The freezer is full. Really full.

When the half-pig arrived last month we could barely fit everything in, and all seven cubic feet remain packed despite a good month’s worth of eating. I’m still typically having to remove half the contents to find what I’m looking for, not that I’m complaining. These excavations help me remember what’s in there since we can’t seem to keep track.

One thing I am sure of is that we have pork chops; we took nearly twenty pounds this time around. So what else to do with such a surplus but feed your friends? We invited eight, and only later did I think about how that’s a lot of chops to get to the table in prime condition. After much deliberation I opted for a day-ahead brine followed by pan browning. The pan juices became a sauce with apples, ginger, and thyme, and it was all very good to eat. The apples were delicious, slightly sweet and slightly savory.

And we couldn’t stop talking about the pork.

I’m still skeptical about the claim that meat that’s pastured and raised nearby tastes better and is better for you. There’s going to be a bias when you know you’re eating something raised locally, when you know the farmer and his or her process.

But our half-hog is making me a believer that something wonderful happens when a pig lives well. When raw, this pork throws off an earthy, nutty scent that your basic wine snob would refer to as a nose. Perhaps it’s because the pig foraged pasture rich in tarragon, mint, and oregano. Perhaps it’s because of the supplemental barley, oats, and hay.

Maybe it also has to do with the humane way in which the hog got killed.

These days I’ve got a new favorite recipe for chops: rub with salt and pepper the day before, rinse and pat dry before cooking, pan fry to medium-well in a heavy skillet. That’s all there is to it. Eat ’em just like that if you want. The meat is that good.

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