LINCOLN— As Nebraskans plan their New Year’s parties and make resolutions for the upcoming year, many are likely hoping for a healthy dose of good luck in 2011. Eating Nebraskan pork could make those wishes come true—in many cultures, pork stands for good fortune and prosperity throughout the year ahead.
“Pork is served at many New Year celebrations because pigs are known to symbolize progress and a prosperous future,” said Larry Sitzman, executive director for the Nebraska Pork Producers Association.
Sitzman said pork is often served on New Year’s because the holiday is a time to look forward, and a hog cannot look backwards without turning completely around. Also, some believe that eating a bigger pig may translate into increased riches or a chunky wallet in the coming year.
Additional examples of traditions from around the world that incorporate the world’s most widely consumed meat, pork, into New Year’s celebrations include the following:
- Double up on lucky chances— serve cabbage alongside pork on New Year’s. The vegetable is also known to be a sign of prosperity.
- Do as the Australians do: Decorate the table with miniature pigs made of marzipan, a mixture of sugar and almond meal that is often used to make shapes and candy.
- Follow the Swedish custom of preparing pig’s feet for New Year’s, or instead adopt the German practice of feasting on roast pork and sausages.
- Cook a roast suckling pig – Nebraskans will be in good company, that’s how people in Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Cuba, Spain and Austria will be ringing in 2011.
- Prepare Pork and Cabbage Dumplings—a New Year’s staple in China, where the pig is considered a symbol of honesty, tolerance, initiative and diligence. (Recipe Below)
“In addition to hoping for luck, many Nebraskans will resolve to eat healthier this year,” said Sitzman. “Enjoying pork on New Year’s will get those resolutions off to a great start because pork is a lean protein source that contains many essential nutrients and vitamins.”
According to a 2006 USDA research study, six of the most common cuts of pork are 16 percent leaner and 27 percent lower in saturated fat than 15 years ago. Tenderloin is the leanest cut of pork and recent studies show that it is as lean as a skinless chicken breast. Pork’s lean meat also serves as an excellent source of thiamin, vitamin B6, phosphorus and niacin, as well as energy and protein. It is also a good source of riboflavin, potassium and zinc.
And, Nebraskan’s don’t have to worry about sacrificing taste for health. Although many pork cuts have less fat, they do not have any less flavor. Home chefs can keep pork moist and flavorful by using an instant-read thermometer, or marinating before cooking, and many marinades add flavor without a lot of fat.
Nebraska ranks sixth in the nation for pork production with more than 2,200 hog farms, the vast majority of which are family owned and operated.
For more nutritional information and pork recipes or for information about pork production, please visit http://www.NEpork.org
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CONTACT: Mallory Wittstruck 888-627-7675
(Recipe following below)
NEW YEAR’S STEAMED PORK DUMPLINGS
3 stalks Chinese cabbage
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 lb. lean ground pork
1 10-oz. package prepared
Dumpling wrappers (available at Asian food stores)
Finely chop the Chinese cabbage and scallions and put them in a mixing bowl. Add the soy sauce, salt, cornstarch and pork. Mix well with a spoon.
Place 1 teaspoon of filling on each wrapper. Fold the wrappers into half circles. Moisten the inside edges with water, and press them together to seal.
In a large pot, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Drop in the dumplings and cover. When the water resumes boiling, add 1 cup of cold water. Repeat this step twice. When the water boils for the third time, the dumplings will be done. Serve with 1/4 cup soy sauce mixed with 2 tablespoons white vinegar. Makes 4 dozen dumplings.