I’m proud of all of the beautiful, truly special and delicious, sustainably-raised meat in our Butcher cases at Bi-Rite 18th Street and Bi-Rite Divisadero. The cases themselves, and our amazing Deli and Butcher staff who stand behind them, are the hearts of our stores.
Our cases feature meat from suppliers we know and trust, and one of my favorites is the great folks at Heritage Foods USA. Heritage is a meat distributor that provides us with center-cut pork chops, Porterhouse pork chops, boneless pork chops (great pan-seared with roasted fingerling potatoes for the perfect cold-weather dinner), St. Louis-style pork ribs, smoked hamhocks (an essential component for making the perfect split-pea soup) and slab bacon. These products are exceptional because of the thought and care that Heritage puts into their operation from top to bottom.
Heritage understands the value of preserving rare and heritage breeds. Factory farming places a dangerous emphasis on cheaper breed uniformity, and the hands-on care that family farms take in raising rare and heritage breeds results in animals that live healthier, happier lives and produce really flavorful cuts of meat. I love that these are not commodity animals; they’re no longer part of our regular food system because they’re neither easy nor efficient to raise. They’re nothing like what you would buy from a chain grocery store. This ultimately produces a safer food supply, since breed diversity helps buttress the supply chain against novel pathogens that can sometimes wipe out whole breeds and lead to food shortages.
I also like that I have a truly personal relationship with Heritage. None of the animals we sell are butchered until I place an order. And I can be sure that the animals are being cared for and slaughtered humanely, because I’ve personally visited four family farms with whom Heritage works, as well as the processing facility that handles the animals. Since I’m the last step in the chain before the meat gets onto your table, I like to know exactly what takes place at every step behind me, and Heritage have always been supportive in showing me how their operation runs. The farms they work with are small, run by families across generations: hard-working individuals committed to producing pork that’s miles above the supermarket options that get marketed as “the other white meat.”
Heritage believes firmly in the value of allowing their animals to feed and mate naturally. They support family farms that don’t use artificial growth hormones or antibiotics. Heritage does the kind of business we love at Bi-Rite–the kind that supports communities, nurtures a stable and bountiful food supply chain and produces great-tasting food.
You can use Heritage pork to make this great recipe from the book by Bi-Rite Founder Sam Mogannam, Eat Good Food. Come by either of our Market locations to get everything you need for this recipe!
Pan-Fried Pork Cutlets with Bing Cherries (serves 2)
¾ cup Bing Cherries (about 18 cherries)
6 center-cut, ½-inch-thick boneless pork chops (aka cutlets, about 14 ounces total)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon cider or red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage
1 cup salt-free chicken stock or salt-free broth (see Note)
Pit the cherries and cut half of them in half. Set aside.
Season the pork with ¾ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper and let come to room temperature.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add as many pork chops as will fit in a roomy single layer and let cook undisturbed for 2 minutes. When the first side is golden brown, flip and cook until just firm and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer the pork to a plate, cover loosely with foil, and repeat with any remaining chops.
Lower the heat to medium and add the shallot and half the butter. Cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots start to soften, about 1 minute. Add the vinegar, Dijon, sage and a good pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are soft and the pan is almost dry. Add the stock along with any juices that have accumulated under the cutlets. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the cherries and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced to one-fourth of its original volume, 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove from the heat, season with more salt if desired, and swirl in the remaining half of the butter. Pour the sauce over the chops and serve immediately.