Pass the Plate, it’s Porktober!
By Zoe Schultz, Kansas Corn Intern
October is a time where jackets are a necessity with the cool crisp fall air, Coach Kleiman and his Kansas State Wildcats can be found on the radio every Saturday, and where farmers all across the state put in long hours harvesting corn, soybeans, sorghum and sunflowers and sowing wheat. Amazingly enough, above all those exciting October activities- October has been declared National Pork Month; or undoubtedly Porktober. Why should we care? Because corn-fed pork adds value to the corn Kansas farmers raise and builds demand for U.S. corn.
Today and throughout the entire month, take the opportunity to thank the pork producers who work hard each day to raise safe and nutritious pork consumed across the entire world! To kick off this celebration, let’s chat about some pork stats from the Kansas Pork Association and The Kansas Department of Agriculture.
- There are roughly 1,000 hog farms in Kansas. Out of those 1,000 farms- nearly 150 produce over 99% of state’s pigs.
- In 2019, Kansas producers sold 3,741,494 market hogs, feeder pigs and seedstock with a gross market value of $494,731,002. This accumulated for a total of 600 million pounds of pork for United States consumers and exports.
- Kansas ranks 10th in state hog and pig inventory in the U.S., producing nearly 2.8 percent of the nation’s total.
- For commodity producers, Kansas pork farms consume about 30 million bushels of grain yearly. The top three commodities consumed in hog rations are grain sorghum, corn and soybeans.
- In 2019, pork producers spent over $90,000,000 on grain sorghum and corn and more than $64,000,000 on soybean products (equivalating to over eight million bushels of soybeans).
- The pork industry in Kansas has a direct output of $456.6 million and creates 3,270 jobs in the state. As well as through supporting 4,556 jobs and creating an economic contribution of over $644.2 million through indirect and induced impacts.
In general, pork ranks top in worldwide exports at 42 percent, beef reaching 23 percent and poultry at 35 percent. With nearly 96 percent of the world’s population living outside of the United States, U.S. pork exports create excellent potential and are critical for America’s pig farmers. Not only do consumers enthrall in the flavor of various pork cuts, they appreciate its affordability, low-fat percentage and nutrient-rich values. America’s pork producers continue to work efficiently with health professionals to improve quality and develop leaner, high-quality pork.
Pull out some of your favorite pork recipes and get to cooking! Here are just a few of the Kansas Corn Team’s favorite pork recipes:
Josh Roe’s Smoked St. Louis Style Smoked Ribs
- 2 racks of St. Louis Style Ribs
- Your Favorite BBQ Rub
- 1 cup unsweetened apple juice
- 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- BBQ Sauce (typically a sweet sauce)
- Unwrap ribs and pat dry with paper towel
- Using a sharp knife or the end of a meat thermometer, peel the membrane off the back of the ribs.
- Apply a generous amount of your favorite BBQ pork rub. Give rub plenty of time to “meld” into the meat, one hour minimum. If possible, apply and refrigerate overnight.
- Prepare smoker for low heat, 200-225 degrees and use smoking wood of your choice (my choice is usually pecan).
- Mix apple juice and apple cider vinegar to make the “mop”.
- Place ribs on smoker, maintain temperature and add wood as needed. Cook ribs for 4-5 hours or until the meat pulls away from the ends of the bones ¼ to ½ of an inch. Spray or apply mop to both sides of the ribs each hour.
- Take ribs off the smoker, and place on a sheet of wide (18”) aluminum foil about twice the length of the ribs.
- Liberally apply BBQ sauce on both sides and wrap in foil.
- Place ribs on smoker for an additional 30-90 minutes until meat is pulled back from the ends of the bones consistently. You want the meat to pull easily from the bone but not necessarily fall off.
- Let rest 15-30 minutes (this can be the hardest part) before serving warm.
Dale Fjell’s Family Favorite Pork Rib Crock Pot Recipe
- 3 lbs. country-style pork ribs
- 1-1/2 lbs. new redskin potatoes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 27-oz. can sauerkraut
- Arrange ribs in a slow cooker; top with potatoes
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper; spoon in sauerkraut
- Cover and cook on low setting for 7-9 hours. Add salt and pepper to taste before serving, as needed.
Deb Ohlde’s Family Favorite Caramelized Pork Loin, Perfect for any Farmer’s Wife
- 2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper
- 1/8 tsp. black pepper
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 (2 ½- pound) boneless pork loin, trimmed
- Cooking spray
- 2 medium onions, cut into wedges
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 2 Granny Smith apples, cut into wedges
- 2 Rome apples, cut into wedges
- Deb’s special twist — add about 1/2-3/4 cup of dried cranberries
- Preheat oven to 425°
- Combine first 5 ingredients into a small bowl
- Rub garlic over surface of trimmed pork loin. Heat a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add pork and onion; cook 10 minutes or until browned on all sides, turning occasionally.
- Place the pork into a 13×9- inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over roast. Arrange the onion around pork, and drizzle with vinegar. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes.
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add apples, and sauté 5 minutes or until golden
- Remove the pork from oven, arrange apples around pork; reduce heat to 350°, and cook an additional 20 minutes or until pork is done.
- Pour pan drippings into a medium saucepan, cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/3 cup (about 14 minutes). Drizzle over pork, apples, and onions.
Deb’s suggestion- “I actually typically throw it all in the crock pot for 6-8 hours on low. I put all spices and liquid together and mix and pour on the top.” She suggested that this recipe is ideal for the working mom whose kids and husband come home at all different times.
Misty Palmer’s, Quick and Easy Instant Pot Crispy Carnitas
- 1 (4-5 pound) lean boneless pork roast, cut into 2-inch chunks (trim excess fat)
- Fine sea salt & freshly-cracked black pepper
- 1 tbsp. avocado oil or olive oil
- 1 batch mojo sauce (see below)
- Fresh cilantro, diced white/red onions, and/or fresh salsa (for serving)
Mojo Sauce Ingredients:
- 1 cup beer
- 1 head of garlic
- ½ cup fresh orange juice
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. fine sea salt
- ½ tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the mojo sauce ingredients until combined. Set aside until ready to use
- Season pork chunks on all sides with salt and pepper
- Click the “Sauté” setting on the Instant Pot. Add oil, followed by half of the pork, and sear- turning every 45-60 seconds or so, until the pork is browned on all sides. Transfer pork to a separate clean plate, and repeat with the remaining pork, searing until it has browned on all sides. Press “Cancel” to turn off the heat.
- Pour in the mojo sauce and toss briefly to combine with the pork. Close lid securely and set vent to “sealing”.
- Cook on high pressure for 30 minutes, followed by a natural release.
- Set the oven broiler to high heat.
- Remove the lid of the instant pot. Shred the pork with two forks. Then transfer it with a slotted spoon to a large baking sheet. Spoon about a third of the leftover juices evenly on top of the pork and toss to combine. Broil for 4-5 minutes, or until the edges of the pork begins browning and crisping up. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, then half of the remaining juices from the Instant Pot over the pork and toss to combine. Broil for an additional 5 minutes to get the meat even more crispy. Remove baking sheet from the oven, then ladle the remaining juices over the pork, and toss to combine.
- Sprinkle with fresh cilantro, then serve warm in tacos, burritos, salads, or whatever of your choice!
Don’t all the recipes listed just sound so delicious? In addition to thanking your local pork producer, pass the plate and get to celebrating National Pork Month in your highest fashion!
Zoe Schultz serves as the Kansas Corn Grower Services Intern and grew up on a family farm in Gove County, Kansas. Zoe is currently a junior at Kansas State University majoring in agricultural communications and journalism with minors in agronomy and agricultural business sales.