Around this time last year, my first customer, The French Laundry's Executive Sous Chef Devin Knell, received 3 hogs from Wooly Pigs. The carcasses weighed approximately 700 pounds.
Per Devin's wishes, I had agreed to deliver them chilled (never frozen) skin-on, uncut and with all the organs.
From the moment the hogs got to the slaughterhouse, things went badly. They penned the Mangalitsa pigs with some other pigs, stressing them. They cut up the hogs' heads, ruining them for head cheese. Because I'd agreed to deliver them whole, I had to charter an entire refer truck to deliver them - something expensive and wasteful.
I had similar problems serving my Seattle customers. The most quality-sensitive, The Herbfarm, didn't get their hog's head at all, which really left a bad taste in their mouth. Nevertheless, the hogs were the best (for cured products) that they'd ever received.
Knowing that slaughter and logistics would continue to be a problem, I decided I should sell barrows to people like the Bay Area's Red Mountain Farm and The Herbfarm. Transferring responsibility for the slaughter and logistics closer to (or directly to) the consumer would improve the consumer's experience.
The Mangalitsa is one of the world's best tasting breeds. It not only attracts customers like The French Laundry and The Herbfarm - it also attracts producers like Red Moutain Farm, who are up to the task of delivering the highest quality pork (by controlling breed, feed, age at slaughter, pre-slaughter stress and post-slaughter ripening).
The French Laundry recently took delivery of nine Mangalitsa hogs from Red Mountain Farm, each about 15 months-old (approximately 1800 pounds total). Devin Knell explained that:
- The hogs were absolutely beautiful, with incredible amounts of fat.
- He bought a walk-in cooler and built an aging room to process all the meat.
- He's curing the loins, bellies and hams along with 3 different types of dry-cured sausages. He used all the offal.
- He processed it all in 3 days.