Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Feedback from the French Laundry on our Pork

I got some preliminary feedback from The French Laundry's Devin Knell today.

Here's what he says about the hogs we sent them:

The baby Mangalitsa had fantastic flavor and fat development for being such a young animal, more so than a comparably aged Berkshire...

The Berkshires were great as well. Really beautiful hams with a great cushion of fat. I can't wait to taste the finished product. We also got really nice, thick slabs of back fat which we cured for lardo. With the rest we made: guanciale, reosette de Lyon, Truffled cervella, saucisson a l'ail, bauchspeck, cured and confit hearts, rendered lard, chicharon, a couple variations of pate de campagne and loin and sirloin roasts.

The only problem I had with the packaging was that I wish they would have removed the whole head before spitting and also that they cut portions of the cheek and face off the head. The way it was processed, we lost the tongue and it made it impossible to roll and braise the pig's head like we normally do. Not a big deal at all, just something to consider.

At some point, we'll have some pictures.

I'm relieved it worked out well. It is no surprise the Mangalitsa, even a piglet, had better fat than a typical pig.

His problems with the head are due to the USDA mess. We have only one plant that scalds. They are so busy right now, we can't pay them enough to do a better job on the heads.

5 comments: said...

still fascinated, I assumed the scalding was to get the hair off...wanting to more I found this
which seems to detail the process fairly well.

How do you stun the pigs when you do the customer slaughter? an fyi, I found these guys whom I'm hoping will pull through on the slaughter portion of my quest:

Now to find the hog.

Heath said...

When you do custom slaughter, the best way to stun is to shoot the hog in a head with a small caliber round.

Anything else seems to require restraining or touching the hog, which usually freaks him out. He'll get stressed and move, increasing the chances that you'll hit him badly and have to do it more times.

If you hit him in exactly the right spot, he'll drop immediately, allowing the butcher to get in and stick him.

Pigs, unlike cows, move around constantly. If you go to try to get him with a captive bolt pistol, he'll move, look up, back off, etc. As savage as it sounds, a bullet is probably the most merciful way to go.

Heath said...

Those guys Fruitland Meats seem to have a slaughter plant. Don't you want to do on-farm slaughter?

The way it normally works is that the farmer can tell you the custom butchers in his area. If you find the right fols to raise a pig for you, they probably have a short list of appropriate butchers who will come out to the farm and slaughter your hog.

I wouldn't use Fruitland Meats, unless they were willing to come out and do on farm slaughter. There's no way I'm going to haul my pig somewhere and potentially stress him - no matter how nice or skilled the Fruitland Meats folks are.

I just consider that a nice thing to do for the hog. said...

I think they will go out to the farm...I should have clarified that.

I found the exact Missouri law that states it's legal to do custom slaughter in MO, and some others I've spoken to led me to Fruitland as someone who would likely do it, and then take it back with them to actually process after bleeding out.

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