Friday, November 10, 2017

Pork Burgers Inspired by #realpigfarming Tour

To me, pork seems to be the neglected protein of the food world.  Outside of bacon, you don’t see a lot of recipes floating around the Internet utilizing this tasty ingredient. That’s a shame because many of the dishes you use featuring chicken would work just as well with pork. The same goes with beef.

I was just as guilty of neglecting pork in my kitchen—bacon exclude. I always have bacon on hand for recipes or meals. But unless I’m fixing something specific to pork—namely pork chops—I forget all about this meat category.

My bad.

I became inspired to correct that error while on the #realpigfarming tour last month. I traveled with other bloggers, dietitians, and pig farmers.


Our first stop was Chicago, where we learned all about the Downtown Marriott Magnificent Mile’s rooftop garden and bee hives. As cool as that was, I was most impressed by the bacon and sausage I had with breakfast, both made in house. The sausage was the best I’ve ever had, and the bacon tasted unlike any you would find in the grocery store.

The next day, we ventured to Indiana and Fair Oaks Farm. Imagine a family-friendly amusement park, but instead of crazy rides, you get to learn all about today’s modern farm. 

I loved how this place allows kids (and adults) to learn all about where their food comes from. I even saw the birth of a calf! And on their pig farm, I learned all about how that lovely pork gets from the farm to my table.

However, for me, he best part of the trip was chatting with the pig farmers.

Kaden and Emily Roush own R Family Farms in Lebanon, Kansas. They have a small operation specializing in Berkshire hogs, which they raise for restaurants and to sell directly to consumers. As their website says, “Today, R Family Farms’ vision is seeded with the desire to educate consumers about where their food comes from, and at the same timed, offer a culinary experience often only reserved for world class dining experiences.”

Michael and Christy Springer own Springer Family Foods, a much larger hog operation near Independence, Kansas. They currently sell approximately 80,000 pigs each year. The operation not only supports the Springer family, but also the families of their 30 full-time employees.

On the trip, these farmers were available to teach us about their lives and how their farms are operated. They answered questions and helped us non-farmers understand how things work and why.

They are passionate about pig farming and want people to know the facts.

Also on the trip, I started to wonder why we don’t use ground pork more often, as we do hamburger and ground turkey. I got tips from the farmers, who as you can imagine, eat pork burgers a lot. I also searched the Internet for ideas, and Fair Oaks Farm had some recipe options.

This recipe is just a general one to get you started. You can add your favorite pork flavorings or toppings to make the burger fit your taste. I fried up the burgers in my cast iron skillet, but you could also cook them on the grill.

Unfortunately, dinnertime now arrives during dark hours, so the lighting for this photo wasn't the greatest.

I liked barbecue sauce and American cheese on my burger. Next time I’d like to add garlic and rosemary to the mix, which I also use in a pork roast recipe. Or I may mix in a little creole seasoning or my BBQ rub to give the burgers a kick.

#RealPigFarming Pork Burgers

Serves 4

1 pound ground pork
5 slices bacon, finely diced
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 teaspoons dried sage
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together—but don’t over mix. Make into 4 patties about 1-inch thick.  

Preheat your skillet or grill. Cook the patties for 5 minutes on each side (10 minutes total) or until they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

Disclaimer: This post and the #realpigfarming tour are sponsored by the Kansas Pork Association and the Kansas Soybean Commission, who paid for all of my travel expenses and compensated me for this post. However, my writings, views, opinions, thoughts, and cravings are entirely my own.