The National Pork Board’s recent Pork Summit highlighted the versatility, affordability and flavor of the meat. The event is held annually at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, Calif. Attendees include winners of foodservice cooking competitions held by Pork Board chapters across the country, as well as foodservice trade press and other guests.  

Among those guests were chefs with expertise in different types of pork preparations. They demonstrated techniques and highlighted a number of trends in dining in the United States.

Trend 1: Telling a dish’s story

Pork soup

Jose Enrique, chef of restaurant Jose Enrique in San Juan, Puerto Rico, discussed the origins of this flavorful but straightforward soup made from cured pork shanks.

Before refrigeration, curing was necessary to keep meat from spoiling, he said. Salt pork was a staple in many parts of the world, including Puerto Rico, for centuries.

Enrique made his own salt pork by curing four 4.5-pound shanks in three pounds of salt for three days. He then rinsed the salt pork and hung it in his walk-in refrigerator for 20 days. He uses it to flavor dishes such as stewed beans and, in this case, the base of a broth.

He simmered the cured shank for five to six hours until it was a consistency similar to corned beef. During that time he also cooked small Spanish chickpeas, cabbage, chorizo and potatoes separately in water, and added the water to the pork broth to enhance its flavor. Next, he spooned each of those items into a bowl with a little olive oil. He sliced the shank and added it at the end.