I spent an intensely sunny and carefree day at Jimmy Doherty’s farm just outside Ipswich this month, meeting his pampered livestock and getting a masterclass in getting the most out of cooking pork.
I’m sure many of you have watched the TV series Jimmy’s Farm, but I was new to his story and found him to be an exceptionally knowledgable bloke, who despite his celebrity status was down-to-earth and very generous with his time.
He spent a good few hours showing our group of food bloggers around his farm and then eating lunch with us, happy to natter and answer our questions.
While we wandered around the pigs burrowed in the mud to cool off, while the cheeky piglets tore around clearly playing to the adoring crowds. I’ve never seen farm animals with such freedom and quality of life. Jimmy’s Farm is home to 600 rare breed pigs who have loads of space to roam freely, including a lovely wooded area.
I do have a conscience about the meat I eat, especially with a couple of vegetarians at home constantly reminding me about my choice to eat cute animals! Seeing animals given such a good life makes me feel loads better.
It’s also an impressive family destination if you need some summer holiday inspiration… butterfly house, guinea pig town, ferrets, play area, festivals – they clearly know how to please a crowd of little people. It took just over an hour to get there on the train from London so it’s pretty accessible.
So what did I learn?
More people need to eat pork! We need to keep the British pig farmers afloat. I also learnt how to get more value from buying pork with Jimmy’s friend and butcher Joe Allen.
We all agreed that going into a butcher’s shop can be an intimidating experience if you’re not sure what to ask for. It’s easy to panic and just go for what you know. But with a bit of know-how you can halve the amount of money you spend on pork.
For example if you ask for Chump End – you’ll get a beautiful hunk of lean meat on the bone which is brilliant for slow roasting or for chopping into chunks to thread onto skewers for yummy kebabs for the barbecue. This is a lot cheaper than the more familiar shoulder or loin cuts.
Cooking with ribs is also brilliant for the summer and SO cheap. In fact Joe told us that some butchers just chuck the sheets of ribs away so if you’re cheeky you might even get some for free.
I took some away with me and experimented with a sticky basting sauce and the results were delicious. You can see the resulting recipe I wrote for the fab Parentdish website if you fancy giving it a try.
Arlo and I thoroughly enjoyed gnawing on them – a great meaty meal for little ones to get involved with that makes a change from chicken drumsticks.
If you want more inspiration about cooking with pork, then head on over to the Put Pork On Your Fork website for loads of ideas