Pork Neck Steaks with Sage Brown Butter and Radishes

In Recipe by Sean13 Comments

Pork Neck Steaks

With Apple, Sage Brown Butter, & Roasted Radishes

I was going to say a lot of things about meat in this post. Then two things happened: 1, I started to realize that I had waaaaaay too much to say in such a small space, and 2, a glitch deleted all of my writing. So I’ve decided to roll with the punches and to narrow my focus a little bit. So instead of spending all day on meat, we’re just going to go for the bare bones (forgive me).

Those of you who have followed Diversivore since its inception in January of 2016 have probably noticed that I don’t focus terribly heavily on meat. I love meat, and I love cooking with it, but I also believe that it’s important that we reconsider our approach to it in terms of cooking and consumption. I’d love to spend some time talking about why that is exactly (and I hope to do so in the future), but the initial outline and research I did before starting this post was threatening to turn this into a massive post. Suffice it to say that there are serious environmental, health, ethical, and economic concerns surrounding the meat-heavy North American diet. And while North Americans are eating a lot of meat, the issue is a global one too, with the demand for meat rising in countries like India and China. I simply can’t get into the complexity of the issues at hand here, but I’ve been pushing myself to eat less meat and more vegetables, grains, pulses, etc. But if you saw my recent roundup features on sustainable seafood, you’ll know that when I do talk about and cook with meat, I try to bring a discussion about sustainability to the table.

Like many people, I spent many years simply viewing meat as a commodity and recipe component, to be picked up at the grocery store as needed. I had a decent sense of where meat came from, but I never really gave it much thought. But I started thinking about it, and I started talking to people – farmers, butchers, vegetarians, vegans, pescetarians – and I decided that I wanted to start changing things. To put a somewhat oversimplified spin on things, I want to eat good meat, less often. ‘Good’ is of course a relative term, but for me it touches on several key points over and above quality (each of which warrants a lot more discussion, which is why this post very nearly got away from me). First of all, I want meat that has been raised and processed ethically and sustainably. Second, I want my meat to support the farmer/producer as much as possible, and not a series of intermediaries or corporate entities. Third, I want my meat to be as local as possible, primarily for economic and environmental reasons. Fourth, I want to minimize waste, and I want to support producers embracing this mentality.

While I reign it in and try to resist the urge to talk about each and every one of those points here, I will say that you can expect to see meat recipes that focus on those concepts. That also means you can expect to see me singing the praises of people like the ones behind Blue Sky Ranch (formerly Urban Digs Farm). I first noticed Blue Sky last year when I was researching community sponsored agriculture (CSA) programs in the Vancouver area. Blue Sky started out as a CSA veggie provider, but has morphed (and filled a wonderful market niche) into a CSA focused on sustainable and ethically-raised meat. I did a bit of digging and chatted with a few of the folks working there and I came away very impressed (prepare to be impressed too – they’ve given me a promo code for you to use for online orders). Basically, they’re producing meat that hits all of those points I brought up earlier – Blue Sky is raising and processing their own livestock with incredible regard for the animals (both as they live and when they’re slaughtered). You might not find a lot of meat producers who say this kind of thing, but they’d like to see people eating LESS meat, but really caring about where it comes from and how it’s been raised. I like to refer to it as the “meat is a treat” mentality; i.e. meat shouldn’t be consumed simply as a given, but as something special. As you’d no doubt expect, you pay more for this kind of product than you do for meat at the average grocery store. This economic stumbling block is a big one (especially for those who struggle to afford good food), but much of this has to do with just how unsustainable cheap meat really is. I don’t want to sound like an elitist with little regard for the farmers involved in larger industrial production – rather I would like to see a system in which we as consumers change our approach to eating meat so that more and more producers can make a good living the way that Blue Sky (and others) do. Ideally, I’d love to see a system in which meat producers are able to make more money from fewer animals, allowing them to circumvent the harsh demands and limitations of our current system. The market is driven by consumer demand, so if we continue to demand cheap meat, the market will continue to produce it in any way it can, even if that way is to the detriment of the planet, farmers, or consumers themselves. I’m not going to tell anyone what to do, or what to eat – but I hope that everyone who truly cares about food will at least ask themselves what drives their meat-eating habits, and what elements of the system deserve their attention and consideration.

Recipe Notes

This is a pretty simple meal to make, and the instructions I’ve given below will guide you through quite nicely, but I will include a few little notes about the ingredients used here.

Wait, Pork Neck Steaks?

Yep, they’re pretty much just what they sound like – a boneless cut from high on the shoulder where you would imagine a pig’s neck to be (because, you know, they don’t really have a neck to speak of). There’s a good chance you haven’t heard of this cut of meat, but you’re going to be very glad that you have now. Blue Sky themselves do a lovely job of explaining this cut, but think of it like a beautifully marbled, deeply flavoured, fairly dark pork chop.  If you’re in Vancouver (or the area) I think you know where you can get it, but for the rest of you, try asking a good local butcher.  If you can’t find neck steaks, you could easily substitute a very good quality (and preferably heirloom, ethically sourced) standard pork chop.

Apples and Radishes

The gorgeous Pink Pearl apples add incredible colour and character to this dish, but don’t be concerned if you can’t find them – any good quality, relatively firm, sweet/tangy apple will work nicely. I also garnished with fresh Ashmead’s Kernel apples (in keeping with my apple theme), but you could use the same apple for this too. For more on these apples and this feature, see the section below the next photo.

I used slender French breakfast radishes here, but any small red radish will work very nicely.

Sage

Sage is a lovely ingredient, but it’s a powerful one too, so use it sparingly. The instructions below tell you how to fry the leaves to make a lovely, crispy garnish, but don’t be tempted to skip out on that step and use raw sage instead. While it’s lovely to look at, raw sage has an overwhelming flavour that’s generally not a fan favourite, and certainly wouldn’t be welcome in this dish.

Blue Sky Promo Code

The lovely folks at Urban Digs Farms have given me a promo code to extend to my readers in the Greater Vancouver area. If you’re lucky enough to be in the Lower Mainland/Greater Vancouver Area, you can use the code below to get $5 off any order over $25.

promo code: diversivore5

If you’ve never shopped with Blue Sky, it’s either a pickup or delivery system, depending on how much you order and where you live. You can look through the web store and read the “How It Works” section for more information. You can also shop in person at their butcher shop, weekdays from 12-6 at 9247 Shaughnessy St., Vancouver, at both Winter Farmer’s Markets (as well as a variety of summer markets). You can order a la carte if you want to try a few things out, or subscribe to a variety of very flexible CSA models.

For the record, while I’m very happy to extend this discount to you fine folks, I should say that this is NOT a sponsored post – I wasn’t compensated with product or money while preparing this post, and I don’t see a commission on any referrals. I bought my own pork, loved it, and wanted to share just how great I think these folks are.

Apple Diversity

This recipe is part of a series highlighting the flavour and versatility of little-known and underappreciated apple varieties.

There has been a growing interest in rediscovering forgotten heirloom apples, as well as a resurgent interest in growing and marketing new hybrid varieties. Apples were once once of the most important and varied fruits in both North America and Europe, but large-scale commercialization favoured a handful of attractive, easy-to-grow apples with long shelf lives.  But the longest lasting apples aren’t necessarily the best or most interesting ones, and chefs, farmers, and apple enthusiasts around the world are working to give some of these forgotten apples the exposure they deserve. This little feature is my contribution to that worthy cause.

I already spoke about both of the apples I used here in other recipes, but I’ll give a quick summary. Pink Pearls (used here as part of a charcuterie plate) are a beautifully coloured apple with a golden yellow exterior and a pink interior.  This is thanks to cross-breeding efforts and genetic intermingling with a ruby-fleshed Asian crabapple known as Niedzwetsky’s Apple (Malus niedzwetskyana). This makes the Pink Pearl one of the delightfully named ‘applecrabs’ (domestic apples with some degree of crabapple parentage). They have a fairly short season, arriving early in the fall and lasting for a few months at most. Pink Pearls were developed in California, and tend to grow best up and down the Pacific Coast (up to and including British Columbia).

Ashmead’s Kernel is a very old (early 18th century) heirloom apple from England, and one of my absolute favourites.  I also used them to make apple and dewberry puff pastry tarts.  The brilliant, sweetly tart white flesh will brown fairly quickly though, so don’t cut them to use as garnish until you’re ready to serve (or brush the cut surface with a bit of lemon juice and water).


Nutrition Facts
Pork Neck Steaks with Sage Brown Butter and Radishes
Amount Per Serving
Calories 681 Calories from Fat 351
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 39g 60%
Saturated Fat 17g 85%
Polyunsaturated Fat 3g
Monounsaturated Fat 15g
Cholesterol 207mg 69%
Sodium 1087mg 45%
Potassium 1122mg 32%
Total Carbohydrates 22g 7%
Dietary Fiber 4g 16%
Sugars 16g
Protein 54g 108%
Vitamin A 25%
Vitamin C 42%
Calcium 11%
Iron 22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutritional Summary

GOOD NEWS:
At first glance this can look a bit heavy, but there are several important factors to consider. First – this is a VERY generous portion of pork for one person. It could easily be converted into a meal for three or four, especially if you add an extra side, salad, or some veggies. Second, the nutritional information show is if you eat the whole steak, including the hefty fat cap on the edge. I trim most of that off myself, and that cuts a lot of calories (and fat obviously). The meal is also nutritionally dense and loaded with protein.

BAD NEWS:
As mentioned above, the fat content can seem a bit too high, but there are reasons for that and several fairly simple solutions. A whole pork steak like this is a pretty hefty meal, so consider trimming it back to a smaller portion. Otherwise, treat it like the treat it’s meant to be!

Ingredient Pages

No ingredient pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe.  Like to see one?  Let me know in the comments below or by email.

Pantry Pages

No pantry pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe.  Like to see one?  Let me know in the comments below or by email.

  • Gluten free
  • 30-minutes

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Pork neck steaks with sage brown butter, roasted radishes, fried sage, and apples - Diversivore.com
Pork Neck Steaks with Sage Brown Butter and Radishes
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Servings Prep Time
2 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Pork neck steaks with sage brown butter, roasted radishes, fried sage, and apples - Diversivore.com
Pork Neck Steaks with Sage Brown Butter and Radishes
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Servings Prep Time
2 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Ingredients
Pork and Radishes
Apples
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
Pork and Radishes (Skillet 1)
  1. Preheat your oven to 400° F (200° C). Salt the steaks liberally and set them aside for 5 minutes.
  2. Clean and chop the radishes into bite-size pieces (make sure to clean the greens and set them aside too). Toss them with 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar and set aside.
  3. Mix pepper, coriander, and cumin and thoroughly combine. Rub the mixture gently into both sides of each steak.
  4. Melt the butter over medium heat in an oven-safe skillet. Once the butter is just melted, add the sage leaves. Saute until the butter is browned and the sage is crispy. Remove the sage with a slotted spoon and set aside (the leaves can be used to garnish later).
  5. Add the steaks to the hot butter and cook until the steaks are well browned (about 2 minutes). Flip the steaks and brown the other side.
  6. Once the steaks are nicely browned (but not cooked through), add the radishes to the pan, scattering them around the steaks as much as possible. Place the pan in the oven. At this point, you can start cooking the apples (see next set of instructions).
  7. Cook until the pork reaches a nice medium cook (70 °C or 158 °F). How long this takes will depend on how long you seared the steaks and on the evenness/accuracy of your oven, but count on at least 4-5 minutes. I recommend using a temperature probe to make things easier.
  8. Remove the pan from the oven and take the steaks out of the pan. Set them aside to rest. Add the radish greens to the pan, mix with the radishes, and return to the oven for about 2 minutes, or until the greens are soft but not mushy. Remove the pan from the oven again and set aside to cool.
Apples and Sauce (Skillet 2)
  1. Combine apple cider vinegar, honey, 1 tsp of red wine, cardamom, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  2. Cut the apple into medium (3/4 cm [1/4 inch]) slices. There's no need to peel the apples, but they can be cored/seeded if you like. Gently toss the apples with the vinegar/honey mixture and set aside.
  3. Once the pork steaks are in the oven (see above), heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tsp of butter and melt, swirling to coat the pan. Remove the sliced apples from the vinegar mixture and carefully add them to the pan, taking care not to overlap them. Cook for about 2 minutes, then add the vinegar mixture and cook until the liquid is very thick and syrupy.
  4. Use a spatula to carefully remove the apples from the pan (they'll be soft and will break easily) and set them aside. Increase the heat to medium-high. Pour the 1/4 cup of wine into the pan to deglaze. Once the wine is reduced by about 1/2, pour the brown butter from the other skillet into this pan. Combine the ingredients and continue to reduce for about 1-2 minutes, or until the sauce is thick, glossy, and rich. Adjust salt to taste if necessary and set aside. (Note: if your timing is a little off and you reach this point before the radishes are done cooking, just remove the apple skillet from heat and set aside until you're ready to start again. When you are ready, heat the pan again before adding wine).
  5. Serve pork over a layer of apples and with a side of radishes and greens. Drizzle the sauce over all of the ingredients and serve with a few slices of fresh apple as well.
Recipe Notes

Pork neck steaks are not common in North America, but they’re pretty much what they sound like – a boneless cut from high on the shoulder in the neck area. It's an amazingly marbled, flavourful cut of meat, and it's easy to work with. Try asking a good butcher or local pork producer for it.

Pink Pearl apples are a beautiful, pink-fleshed apple developed in 1946. It's a hybrid of a conventional apple and a red crabapple, and it has a nice sweet/tart flavour. It can be very hard to find, but you can easily substitute any relatively firm, sweet/tart apple in its place.

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Comments

  1. Elevated take on pork and apples. The Mrs will love this and I’ll definitely get some brownie points for cooking this.

    1. Author

      Thanks Jeff 😀
      Brownie points are always good – especially when it comes to cooking tasty food.

  2. First of all, Wow! what a nice dish! Second, I like that you are careful about your meat choice by making sure it comes from a local places, this way if people get to slowly follow your flow we’ll end that mess we’ve created in the first place. In my grandparents time it was lucky and a big deal to get 1 meat meal a week. Now it’s everyday… I sure you know “meatless monday”. Kind of sad no? I guess it’s a beginning but to the speed we are going it’s not fast enough. You might have seen it, but I’ll say it anyway; Cowspiracy is quite a opening eye documentary, check it out if it’s not done already! Ok enough bla bla… Keep on the good work and thank for doing a difference Sean!

    1. Author

      Thank you Marie-Pierre! I’ve tried to put a lot more effort into knowing where my meat comes from over the last few years, and I’m really happy with the direction things are going in. I feel like I’m eating better for the planet, and enjoying my meals more too. I’ll be sure to check out the doc. Thanks for coming by, and thanks so much for the kinds and thoughtful comment!

  3. I enjoy your posts very much, Sean. You are a gifted writer. I am particularly enjoying your apple series of posts. Thanks for all of the great information.

  4. Great post! I was a vegetarian for a very long time, but food allergies left me few options for protein. When I started eating meat again it was a very conscious transition and I make an effort to know where the meat comes from.

    Your dish looks beautiful!

    1. Author

      That’s really interesting Kortney! I know allergies can make dietary choices all that much harder to make, but I think it’s wonderful that you made the transition in the way that you did. It definitely does involve effort, but it’s worthwhile in so many ways (as you know!). Thanks for the comment, and the compliments. 🙂

  5. I always enjoy reading about the ingredients and how you came up with the recipes more than the actual recipe itself, so thanks for sharing! This looks delicious and I like how you’ve used the apples that you talked about in a previous post.

    1. Author

      Thank you Amanda! While I always hope that people will be tempted to try my recipes, I’m equally happy to know that people are interested in the background and the information. If it gets people to engage with their food and get into the kitchen, it makes me happy!

  6. You are invited any day to my kitchen. What a fabulous recipe. I’ve never had pork neck, but I assume they are rich, much like the oxtail. You inspire me.

  7. Hi Sean, wow you hit some very key points on meat here in this post. Nicoletta and I more I because Nicoletta is vegetarian belive in just what you have outlined. Eat less meat, but when you eat it by good quality from great farmers who respect the animal, feed it well, and buying from local producers is most and much of our mantra at Sugarlovespices. Our meat consumption has come down considerably. During my searching years I came across lots if practices where you thank and have gratitude for the animal that sacrificed it’s life for us. Also respect that a passionate farmer who cares deeply for what he does makes his or her livelyhood doing what they do, and to pay gratitude for that. Your right there is a lot of waste and disrespect when it comes to consumotion, and cudos to you for enlightening us more. As for you pork neck steaks, I have never had them, but being that there is a bone and the narbelization makes me think that this recipe breaths flavor and tenderness. Especially when you add in that brown butter, Sage. Not forgetting the acidity and sweetness of the apples. Once again Sean, We’ll done!

  8. I was reading your approach to eating animal protein and found myself nodding along… I’m on the same page as you Sean, and I think you’ve articulated it beautifully here. If I could add another recommendation for anyone who is interested in following this same approach, it would be this: if you can permit it, try to buy the whole animal- split it with a friend if you can. Most farmers are stuck with the “lesser known” cuts of meat and end up selling the more expensive bits at a higher price. Additionally, it’s a way better deal for everyone that way. They’ll even cut it up and wrap it in smaller packages for you 🙂

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