Today we are excited to have a Q&A session with Christian (Christy) Bouska who works with Vande Rose Farms. Harmons partners with them to get the highest quality cuts of pork for our customers. Read on to find out just what makes the pork from Vande Rose so amazing.
Q. What is unique about Vande Rose Farms pork?
A. Over the years, I have seen a reoccurring theme with our customers asking, “How can I make this taste as good as yours?” It’s simple: start with great ingredients. The high quality of Vande Rose pork products comes from the Duroc pig breed genetics and consciously raised pork. It shows in the beautiful dark red coloring and marbling, allowing flavors to shine through.
Q. Can you tell us why not adding water to the pork is such an important part of producing quality pork?
A. Working with a pure product allows the beautiful flavors to be brought out of the pork. I have found that injected and water-added meats tend to take away from the flavors and seasoning that are being used to cook with. Having no water added allows you to put your own signature on the recipe.
Two of Christy's delicious smoked pork dishes.
Q. Can you tell us a little more about what products Vande Rose Farms offers?
A. I have worked with a variety of their products, including baby back ribs, pork shoulder/butts, pork loin, pork tenderloin, uncured and uncured dry-aged bacon, all with great success. When it comes to pork quality, there is a lot to be said about how an animal is raised as it directly reflects on the quality of meat. I have been incredibly happy with the results I have gotten.
Q. What is your favorite cut of pork to smoke?
A. Oooo, that is tough, but I would have to go with pork butt followed by baby back ribs. There is just something romantic about eating a freshly smoked rib right off the smoker. When it comes to my last meal, a fresh forkful of pork shoulder, with the bark and sweet flavor of the smoke on the outside and the tenderness of the meat…there is nothing in the world quite like it.
Q. What does a person need to properly smoke pork?
A little bit of time, a good seasoning, a bit of fun, and knowing what temperature to cook it at, too. Pork allows itself to cooked in so many ways, with so many flavors, that it is those simple details that will make a successful final product.
Q. What is your favorite method of smoking?
A. A side barrel pellet smoker (such as a Traeger) with pecan pellets provides an amazing combination of slightly sweet and smoky flavor to the meats. This allows for more control of temperatures while cooking in various types of weather, and ease when adjusting temperatures. Cooking should be fun, and smokers allow a peace of mind.
Q. What are the most important steps in smoking pork?
- Starting with a good quality meat, like Vande Rose, is the most important. You cannot make a good wine with grape jelly, so starting with a good product is important.
- Know your ending cooking temperature for the meat so you can determine your approximate cooking time. Sometimes the “meat knows” when it is done, but a thermometer is an essential tool.
- Relax. Smoking requires patience and time—don’t keep “checking” on it, as the opening and closing of the smoker door will add more smoke to the meat and slow the cooking time.
Check out Christy’s favorite pork recipe here, and smoke a pork butt that can be used in meals throughout the week.
Christian (Christy) Bouska
As a self-taught chef, through travel and experiences Christy became fascinated with the chemistry and unique flavors of cooking. As barbecue came to Iowa in the early 1990s, her family company found ways to demonstrate the versatility of pork through various seasonings and smoking techniques. Over the years, she and her husband Kevin have competed on the BBQ competition circuit, including the Jack Daniels World Championships. Now, her primary focus is creating recipes for busy people who want to make good food for better health without a lot of hassle. The versatility of pork allows such a diversity in menu planning, it is a core component of the recipe building she creates.