Celebrating Pork with Sabor Smithfield & Chef Jose Garces

Last week, I got the chance to co-host an amazing pork-themed dinner party by Chef Jose Garces at his restaurant Amada here in New York. The dinner was in celebration of the launch of SaborSmithfield.com, a new website featuring an array of pork recipes and ideas for the Latino Spanish-speaking community by the brand Smithfield (which you may already know for their bacon and ham products).


I never turn down any excuse to eat delicious things, but what I really enjoyed about the evening was the opportunity to talk with Chef Garces (a real Iron Chef!) about the history and importance of pork within the Latino community.

He also completely opened my eyes about new ways to cook with and serve pork, that are different from the usual things so many of us rely on for easy weeknight meals or family celebrations.

As a Puerto Rican woman, I grew up eating pork in various ways during just about every family meal or celebration. From pernil (traditional Puerto Rican-style pork shoulder) to pork chops (which we call "chuletas") to the small pieces of smoked ham and pork that season our most famous traditional dishes like mofongo, arroz con gandules, and croquetas, pork has always been a staple of the cuisine that means the most to me.

That said, even with my own professional culinary background, I still admit that I often fall into the rut of preparing the same few pork dishes I grew up eating. So it was really incredible to sit and dine with an expert who was able to share other ideas and methods that I'm now dying to try.

The dinner was meant to highlight the variety of pork cuts that Smithfield offers in preparations that take advantage of the quality of the meat.

(BTW, I should note that before signing on to work with them, I totally didn't even realize they had other options beyond bacon and ham--they do everything from pork loins and chops to shoulder and ribs!)

Chef Garces did some really cool things, like cooking pork tenderloin sous vide and then serving in the thinnest most tender slices for an appetizer dish that I could not stop devouring.

It was seriously like no pork tenderloin I've ever had before.

My favorite was the twist on "surf and turf," featuring seared scallops and baby back ribs that were somehow both super tender and super crispy. Like, how is that even possible?!

There was also an epic paella that rivaled ones I've had in Spain.

And the loveliest little dessert called "Tocino del Cielo," which literally means "bacon from the sky."

Over the next few months, I'll be sharing some more Latin-inspired pork recipes featuring Smithfield. I'd love to know if you have any questions about cooking with pork (or if you're looking for any specific ideas)!

I was compensated to attend and co-host this event along with some fellow influencers, but note that all opinions (and love of pork!) are genuine and all mine. For more recipes, information, and ideas, visit SaborSmithfield.com (Spanish) or Smithfield.com (English).

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