Choice Cuts and Ethical Decisions

by Jen Wanous

With the thermometer (or iPhone) pushing 90 for the first time this year, I welcomed this holiday weekend with sunglasses and flip-flops. Ahh…summer is on its swift way. Last year, on Memorial Day weekend, I posted about pork and the different cuts of meat you can use for grilling. Turns out, this has been one of my most popular posts. (It’s hard to contend with the most popular search term: “How to Make a Vagina Cake.”) I wanted to share more details on the different cuts of pork. Below is a diagram and a recipe for Rosemary Pork, but not without some ethical reflections first.

While looking for this diagram of pig parts, I found it hard to scroll through the various images. There is an innate moral contradiction to being an animal lover (and dog owner) and supporting the slaughter of certain other animals. We live within a ethical hierarchy of consumption (as long as we’re not in Vietnam). I recently attended a local food conference in which this exact topic was discussed. I was on board with most of it, but then someone started talking about how you shouldn’t eat the roots of plants (carrots, onions, garlic, etc) because doing so kills the plant. I might have chuckled out loud. I certainly found it “tweet” worthy but overall, it reminded me that there is a wide spectrum of ethical consumption.

I’m not completely on the mindless side of the spectrum and yet every time I order a taco, “Carnitas!”  inexplicably pops out of my mouth. Well, there is a reason: pork simply tastes good. I negotiate this ethical space by decreasing the frequency and portion size of the meat I eat. I often spring for humanely raised meat, too.

Humanely raised pork is available at some farmers markets, Whole Foods, and can be sourced here: In the recipe described below, the meat can be charred on the BBQ. Happy grilling season: may your side dishes be plentiful and your meats flavorful!

Rosemary Pork

This recipe is from chef Jay Weinstein’s cookbook: The Ethical Gourmet. Serves 6.

The key to cooking meat that has great impact in small portions is to make each morsel an intense flavor and texture experience. Brining and marinating are two techniques to achieve that.


2 tablespoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon brown sugar

3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 bay leaf

2 teaspoons cracked black peppercorns

2 thick rib chops (at least 1 inch thick, about 6 oz each)

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

¼ cup olive oil


Make brine by combining the salt, brown sugar, half the garlic, the bay leaf, and half the peppercorns with four cups cold water. Submerge the pork in this brine and allow to cure for 4 hours.

Puree the rosemary and olive oil together in a blender; stir in the remaining garlic and peppercorns. Remove the chops and discard the brine. Pat the chops dry, and rub the rosemary oil into them well. Marinate at least 30 minutes.

Heat a stovetop grill, barbecue grill, or heavy-bottom pan over medium heat. Grill or sauté the chops until the internal temperature reads 150°f on an instant read thermometer, about 4 minutes per side. The meat should be slightly pink and very juicy. Set aside and rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting away the bone and slicing the chops thinly on a bias. Serve as an accompaniment to salads, grain dishes, and pastas.

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