Those of us who live in snowy places are particularly attuned to mud season. If you search the hashtag #mudseason on Instagram, you’re going to see a lot of cars in muddy ruts in Vermont, and kids playing in brown puddles in Quebec. It’s a joyous time that can only be understood if you’ve lived through the ice and snow that precedes the earth-thawing muck. Around this time, our appetites thaw, too. But it’s still a few months away from seasonal local spring vegetables being sold at farmers’ market. The way to bridge the gap between mud season and asparagus season is to cook pork. It’s an early spring fever hack and it works. Trust us. Soon enough there will be (foraged) morel mushrooms, ramps, peas, and fresh herbs grown outdoors. For now, you can conjure them all in your kitchen. Here’s how.
QUICK WEEKDAY SPRING PORK RECIPES
These thin cut pork chops don’t get dipped in egg and breaded. You just season them with salt and pepper, press them in some bread crumbs, and get them crispy in a skillet. Buttered radishes are the ingredient in this recipe that screams spring — and they’re delicious. Which brings up something we think about not infrequently: Why don’t more people cook radishes? Our COO and Creative Director says, “I heavily suggest roasting pickled radishes, and the briny quality is lovely with pork.” What further enticement could you possibly need. Get to it!
Pork tenderloin is lean and fast to make, but if you don’t pay attention while cooking, it may come out dry. Try this simple as can be pernil recipe by cookbook author Von Diaz; Food 52 guarantees it to come out juicy. (Make sure you know how hot your oven is; it’s better to under- than overcook.) It involves cutting a few slits in the tenderloin to allow the marinade to really saturate the meat (you rub it in there). Deglazing the roasting pan for sauce helps, too. It’s heavy on oregano, which is often the first perennial herb to creep back to life in a garden. If nothing is green in your patch, pick some up at a store.
Make quick work of a mid-week meal with ground pork. This recipe, developed by our Hudson Valley neighbor Sarah Copeland, has extra spring-y flavor thanks to mint, basil, and lime. Plus it’s cold! When you’ve been stuck in a rut of warm winter stews, nothing screams season change more than a cold dish.
LONGER WEEKEND SPRING PORK RECIPES
This pork shoulder is rubbed with garlic and many spring herbs, then roasted instead of braised or smoked. Then you serve it with favas, baby carrots, and peas, plus more fresh herbs. If there are no markets with favas or peas yet in your thawing neck of the woods, there’s no shame (and a lot less work) in frozen versions. As the pork roasts, maybe do a little spring kitchen cleaning. You’re not alone if your vegetable drawers are begging to be rinsed.
If you have access to ramps and some time on your hands (curing takes 7 to 10 days in a brine that includes minced ramps, chilies, and maple syrup), grab yourself some pork belly and try this recipe. You don’t need a grill or a smoker if you don’t have one or can’t borrow one; you can cook it low and slow in your oven.
Ok, fine, there are no special spring ingredients in this rib tip recipe, but something about the warming weather makes us crave barbecue and eating outdoors. You can make these rib tips on a smoker, a grill, or a gas grill. Then serve with a spring-y slaw or salad to make it feel lighter. Chances are you can find a local hothouse lettuce mix at a store near you. Soon enough you’ll be grilling farm stand asparagus with these rib tips. Can’t wait!