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December 31, 2008

Eat Neck Meat, Save Western Civilization


When historians look back at the inevitable downfall of Western civilization, will they at all explore the ongoing prejudice against our more flavorful meats?


Time and time again, we see that the more robust, flavorful, interesting meats are treated as second-class foods, as though rich flavor is below our station. This is certainly the case with the chicken, where the thigh and drumsticks are given the short shrift from the prima donna of poultry, the breast. This is also the case when it comes to the pig.


The pig is a wonderful, magical animal. What else can you say of the source for bacon, pork chops, ham and sausage? You would think that there couldn’t possibly be anything else, but you would be wrong. Embarrassingly wrong.


There is also the neck.


The neck typically is a very inexpensive cut of pork meat. There is a reason for that, which is that very few people eat it. Is there a reason for that? The answer to that could be the natural prejudice against flavorful meat that could doom all of us.


How could prejudice against flavorful meat doom us all? That is a question that we cannot today answer, and will have to leave it to future historians. You cannot engage the powers of hindsight until you have advanced in both time and event. And since our topic is the downfall of Western civilization, it’s a sure bet that in the future records from our time will be spotty. At least that’s how it plays out in film and TV.


As flavorful as it is, pork neck is a meat that best lends itself to being combined with something else. It’s a sign that pork neck as a meat is a complementary food, not a standalone. It is a meat that plays well with others.


The natural tendency would be to pair this with rice, and that is a good choice. It is also something that easily flavors northern beans.


You start by soaking the beans overnight, or by boiling them for five minutes and allowing to stand for a couple of hours. Begin boiling again, and add pork neck bones and chopped onion. Simmer for several hours, and wait until the water boils mostly away.


Once the beans have softened and the water is mostly gone, remove the neck bones and allow to stand for several minutes. This will provide the added benefit of cooling them so that they don’t burn you to the touch. Remove the meat from the bones and cut into small pieces.


Restore the meat to the beans, and add some salt and pepper. Here is a suggestion: Crushed red pepper will be the thing that brings this dish together. Consider being generous with it.


Here is another suggestion. While eating, be on the lookout for small pieces of neck bone. Don’t bite hard, or else you might find out which wins in a collision between tooth and bone. But considering the possible consequences of ignoring neck meat – the downfall of Western civilization – it may be a small price to pay.


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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