Friday, August 8, 2008

Mangalitsa Pancetta Versus Typical Pancetta

Mangalitsa Pancetta

I came across an Italian producer who uses Mangalitsa to make what I consider to be real traditional products. The picture of it is shown above. If I was to eat pancetta, that's the pancetta I want to eat.

Pancetta is made from the pig's belly. As Mangalitsa belly is almost entirely fat, the Mangalitsa pancetta is essentially a solid block of fat. Anyone who has seen typical pancetta made from modern meat-type hog bellies will notice the difference in lean percentage:

Pancetta from normal hogs

At one point, pretty much all pancetta looked like the Mangalitsa product - as the common hogs were so much lardier than today's. Of course, the cured products from lard-type animals taste a lot better - and they cost about 7 times as much per pound as the ubiquitous meat-type product.

When one considers that today's readily available "artisanal" products taste so flavorless and unsatisfying compared to what our ancestors ate, I think it is better that people don't know what they are missing out on. If your only coffee is Folgers, better that you don't know it is just a pale shadow of the real thing.

This issue - Mangalitsa bacon versus normal bacon - has particular relevance to me right now. In a month or so when it turns cold we'll kill our Fall Mangalitsa. These are the first Mangalitsa I'd even think of curing and turning into things like bacon - as they are finally over 9 months old.

Yet if I get them processed into bacon, the bacon will look like solid fat. I have no desire to show people Mangalitsa bacon and have them say "uggggh!" or "do you have some that's more meaty?" It would be hard to be polite.

Right now I'm leaning to selling the bellies fresh - let people make their own bacon, if that's what they want to do.


William said...

I have about 10 kinds of bacon in my freezer at home right now from various Missouri hog farmers. Only one has a say in how it's cured because he has his own processing facility. The rest simply use whatever is offered by their processor.

Of those only two are what I would consider pretty good and several are just downright bad.

So, what I mean to say is: I think selling it fresh is the way to go. Chefs and solid home cooks will clamor for it and want to cure it in however suits there needs best as apposed to the specific way in which your processing facility would deal with it.

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