Sunday, November 29, 2009
For a comparison of Mangalitsa with Berkshire (described as "Kurobuta" on the menu), see this.
In addition to being on the menu at Michael Mina, Wooly Pigs's pork is also on the menu at SF's Four Seasons.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Bryce Lamb, aka "Mangalitsa Chef" has a gallery up on facebook showing Christoph Wiesner and Mr. Rohrhofer slaughtering a pig.
I've bought Mangalitsa breeding stock from both Wiesner and Rohrhofer. Its funny to see that farm, because I know Rohrhofer's system - he puts the pigs in the barn the last few weeks of their lives. When I see that pig in the barn, I know he's up next.
Rohrhofer served me some incredible Paprikaspeck when I visited his farm. Here's a picture of Bryce's gallery.
From talking to Isabel Wiesner, Bryce Lamb is cooking for them (and their four kids), while he learns all he can about how to process and cook Mangalitsa pigs.
The Wiesners get a live in chef, while Bryce gets to meet and learn from Austria's best (besides Chrstoph, I know he's met up with Marcel Kropf and Chef Manfred Stockner). While he's there, he can sample their products, watch them make things, ask them questions, etc.
Bryce ought to have a lot of ideas when he gets back to America.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Complying with the rules is difficult. Mike Sula has a new article on people processing meat that discusses the topic.
They are all very flavorful and satisfying. There are some differences, which is what this post explores.
The picture above shows cured side (aka "bacon"). It has a very strong porky flavor. The fat is very light on the tongue. It is delicious. We had the butchers use rib pullers on the sides, explaining why there's so much lean on the pieces above - the finger-meat (normally between the ribs, and some of the best meat on the pig) is on the bacon.
Those two above are bacon made from the loin. Essentially, the loin is cured and smoked, just like sides (bellies) are smoked, to produce bacon. The one at top is from the top of the loin (near the shoulder blade). The bottom is from the sirloin area.. The rest of the loin got made into boneless chops.
It doesn't look like a typical cured loin, just as Austrian products (from Mangalitsa pigs) don't look typical. It can't have a very superior taste and look like the other stuff out there.
The lean portion has a very strong meaty flavor. The meat is marbled and has a very fine texture. The fat is incredibly luscious and melts on the tongue. The fat is fairly neutral in flavor, compared to the belly fat (above) or the jowl (see below).
Eating this bacon is like eating two different things at once. While eating a slice, it was fun to switch from meat to fat, and vice versa.
That's jowl bacon. It has a very strong meaty flavor. The fat is a bit chewier than that of the cured loin. It is less chewy than the belly bacon. It only takes a small amount of this bacon to really improve things. Others have described this bacon as having narcotic-like qualities.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Wooly Pigs, with its Mangalitsa pork, continues to attract the attention of a certain sort of early adopters - the truly intimidating home cook.
The most recent is Micah Shotel, who has a gallery on flickr showing his work, "Micah vs the Mangalitsa Jowl (with the help of the Ad Hoc cookbook)".
Micah joins Bruce, Kavin and a bunch of others (please forgive me if I don't name you) in cooking/curing/processing Mangalitsa pork at home. I've noticed such customers generally share a few traits:
1) They are almost always men.
2) They really like jowls.
3) They are willing to spend a lot of time/money to make their creations.
Whether its sous vide at home, multi-day preparations or curing stuff at home, it takes a lot of effort and/or money. If a busy guy wants to unwind by cooking or curing meat, he'll want to use the best ingredients he can get, because otherwise he's wasting his time.
Wooly Pigs is very lucky to have such customers. I'm reminded of something I read from Paul Graham:
PB [Paul Buchheit] made a point in a talk once that I now mention to every startup we fund: that it's better, initially, to make a small number of users really love you than a large number kind of like you. If I could tell startups only ten sentences, this would be one of them.
As Wooly Pigs expands its production and distribution broadens, I'm looking forward to satisfying more customers like Micah.
If you look closely at his face, you'll see there's an optical illusion (a bit like a panda) that makes his eyes appear roughly 10x bigger than they are - he's got big black spots around his eyes. His actual eyes are tiny.
People love the Mangalitsa jowl bacon. Here's something I found on the web today. Unfortunately, the author, Michael Barthel uses a picture of Barnaby Dorfman's homemade bacon (belly), not the jowl. Above, I've got a photo of some jowl bacon. As Michael Barthel explains (emphasis mine):
How did it taste? Well, perhaps I can best describe it with a side-by-side comparison. I cooked a couple pieces of regular store-bought along with the jowl bacon and consumed each in turn. The store bacon was good; it's bacon, after all. But the first bite of jowl bacon knocked me back with an almost narcotic feeling. The fat came out clean and soft but intense, concentrated bacon flavor encased within a slight base of regular porkiness. It's incredible, like the abstract ideal of bacon come to life, bacon like exactly what you want bacon to be.Michael Barthel's and Bob del Grosso's recent statements about the awesomeness of Mangalitsa jowl make me feel a bit better about my previous statements about Michael Ruhlman's BLT challenge.
Like narcotics, once you start eating that Mangalitsa jowl bacon, you don't want to go back to "store bacon" - because it doesn't give you that same feeling.
You can order the same jowl bacon that Michael Barthel likes so much from Foods In Season. Call Foods in Season at 866-767-2464 and say you want to order a bunch of bacon by Wooly Pigs.
The more bacon you order, the cheaper it will be, because whether you FedEx one pound or ten pounds, the cost of shipping is essentially the same. Ordering 10 pounds is a lot more efficient than getting one or two 12oz packs.
Apparently its back from July, but I only saw it on the web now.
Back when that article was written, likely April 2009, there just wasn't much Mangalitsa available. But now, whether on the coasts or the rest of the USA (via FedEx), Mangalitsa is available.
I'm happy to see this major progress in such short time. Wooly Pigs and Mosefund are getting things done.
In the case of Mosefund, it is pretty much one guy, Michael Clampffer - and he doesn't even get to devote all his time to Mosefund's pig operation. To think they went from killing their first pigs (in July) to selling them to some of the East Coast's best restaurants in October, a mere four months. Wooly Pigs has achieved similarly speedy results in San Francisco.
Friday, November 20, 2009
The Inn at Ship Bay killed one of their pigs that they got from Wooly Pigs earlier this year.
Apparently they finished them on a barley-based ration, and as a result, they have hard, bright white fat.
That's what's neat about an informed, rational chef teaming up with a farmer: the chef knows what he needs (fat that won't go rancid, so he can cure it). It helps if the farmer is a foodie (the sort who is fussy about his lard).
It all reminds me of Austria, where you've got chefs like Bryce Lamb learning how to kill and cut up Mangalitsas, and farmers like Christoph Wiesner, who makes his own cured products, in addition to breeding, fattening and exporting Mangalitsa pigs and pork.
Its nice to think that the special qualities of the Mangalitsa helps to bring chefs and farmers together. I can think of another story along those lines - in Illinois. Those folks will have a dinner on December 16th.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
We at Wooly Pigs are delighted that our Mangalitsa will be featured at the ninth annual Taste & Tribute benefit gala for the Tibetan Aid Project at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco tomorrow night (Friday, Nov. 20th). This amazing event features twenty-three of the best Bay Area chefs cooking tableside, and benefits the Tibetan Aid Project which helps Tibetans rebuild, preserve, and strengthen their cultural and spiritual heritage. Chef Mark Richardson of the Four Seasons will be showcasing his three-way Mangalitsa tasting at Table 5. Thanks Chef Mark!I've written about the Four Seasons and Mark Richardson serving our Mangalitsa. I think its great that when he's got a special event and wants something really nice, he knows we are the ones to call.
As Bob del Grosso reports on Facebook and his blog:
The guanciale I made from the hog jowl that I bought from Michael Clampffer (chef-swineherd of Mosefund Farm) is ready and it is on the dinner menu tonight!From his blog:
After deciding that it was worth checking to see if the jowl was mature enough to consider using to add lubricity and savoriness to my intended Spaghetti con caviofiore, I took the sucker down and tasted it. It is marvelous. It is salty, cream, firm, not a hint of bitterness. Like the best butter you ever had, but it is not butter, it's pork. Nice job Michael Clampffer and friends at Mosefund! And a tip of the hat to the fellow who brought the Mangalitsa to North America Mr. Heath Putnam of Wooly Pigs; damned fine job!
Its great that such accomplished chefs appreciate Wooly Pigs and what we've done, with the aid of our special pigs, who have the potential to taste incomparably better than other pigs.
Chef Jason W Bond has a nice photo from his Mangalitsa project on Facebook:
Mangalitsa pork shoulder served with watermelon radish, boudin, and collards.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
As previously mentioned, Foods in Season is distributing Mangalitsa by Wooly Pigs across much of the USA.
Americans love convenience.
The products shown on this page demonstrate 2 kinds of convenience:
1) Foods In Season will bring the good stuff to you. Who'd have ever thought you'd be able to get on the phone or internet and order up half an extreme lard-type pig, or a pack of boneless Mangalitsa chops - and have it come the next day?
2) We've got the meat cut so that chefs of all skill levels can appreciate it. If you want a minimally cut pig, we've got it. You can lay the pieces out on a table and see that it came from one half. If that's not your style, we've got a 10-pack of boneless chops, for the people who like to keep things easy. There's no need to break down a loin - even though that isn't too hard.
In the future, I'm hoping we can make our production and distribution even more streamlined, so that we'll be able to offer people chilled, never frozen halves. As it is, I'm astounded that you can order this stuff at all; it has taken a tremendous amount of work to get to this point.
If you 'd rather not get out your knife, steel and rib-puller and break down your own pig, we've got boneless Mangalitsa chops for you. The picture at top shows how they look outside of the package. I'm guessing some chefs will figure out how to use these chops - and then they'll be ordering a lot of them.
Part of doing business in America is giving people what they want. If people want portioned, boneless chops, Wooly Pigs is going to give it to them.
My favorite cut is the shoulder butt. The shoulder of a pig includes what we think of as a neck, upper back, front arm and a piece of the chest. The shoulder butt includes the neck and upper back. It is a very marbled and flavorful cut.
In Austria, that part (they cut it slightly differently) consumers typically prefer that to the loin.
I saw this photo of pigs in Hungary and was struck by how odd they look.
The Red Mangalitsa breed was produced by crossing the Blonde Mangalitsa (the original Mangalitsa breed) with the Szalontai, a red breed indigenous to the eastern part of Old Hungary. Here's more on the history of the different Mangalitsa breeds.
Here's some photos of a different, much fatter herd:
When I see that last picture, I figure that one day, Mangalitsa pigs will have to wind up in animated cartoons, because they are simply too cute when they get ridiculously fat.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Ok so it was very nice
We did a lot of lardo
I did to ham also
The rest we use it for a special right away
The meat is excellent, it has a great marbling
Wooly Pigs sold Mosefund that pig, and provided consulting on how to raise it for optimum quality. Mosefund followed instructions - particularly the feeding instructions, producing some wonderful meat and fat.
Mosefund has only had their pigs since April; they aren't old hands at raising extreme lard-type pigs. Nevertheless, they've followed instructions, resulting in the expected outcome.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
This was the highlight of the dinner, a lovely piece of woolly pig loin with spaetzle and roast veg in a red cabbage sauce. Mangalitsa is substantively different from typical pork. The flavor is much more pronounced, much more pork-y, and the flesh is marbled with fat. Mmmm... fat marbling
Friday, November 13, 2009
Hungarian Mangalitsa Pork and Apples
Crisp Belly, Roasted Loin, Braised Shoulder
Those are from the 3 major parts of the pig that we are marketing in SF: loin, belly and shoulder butt.
As I wrote before, it is getting to be pig-killing time.
I got an email from Geddes about Maple Rock Farm killing a pig I delivered a few months back. John Steward has a post about it on his blog:
"The obvious difference is how much fat they have. The fatback on this guy was about two and a half inches thick! Wooly pigs are famous for their high quality fat and I was perhaps a bit sceptical in the beginning but after working with and tasting the meat I a convert.
"Yesterday was spent smoking ham hocks and bones and making copious quantities of stock. I also proccessed the scrap into ground pork. This was the first real taste of the meat I have had. Highly impressive. Without question the best pork I've ever tasted. The flesh is such a beautiful red color and the texture reminded me of a sushi grade tuna. Just fabulous.
"Geddes Martin from The Inn At Ship Bay dry cured the bellies and jowls for bacon. The flavor is exceptional. The bacon is mostly fat but it's different than any bacon you'll see at the market. It goes translucent as soon as it heats the pan. The flavor is clean and the taste again, is out of this world."
The pig they killed is an F1, explaining why there so much lean meat in that belly. Their other pigs ought to be fatter and even tastier, with even more nicer fat, as shown in this next photo.
The photos above off pigs and the raw belly are from Geddes, one of the chefs who'll serve the pigs from Maple Rock Farm.
Wooly Pigs is delighted with our new promotional video made for us by the great folks at TurnHere internet video.
They were very helpful and competent to work with and the final product is all we could have hoped for. Many thanks to Steven Watkins, the talented and very personable videographer; to our buddy Thomas Nelson who is an engineer for TurnHere and who first told us about the company; and to all of the rest of the folks there who we worked with on the project. It was fast, it was easy, and we like the results. Thanks also to Suisun Valley Farm for allowing us to film there. Thanks.
Chef Bryce Lamb, Mangalitsa enthusiast, has a facebook gallery up of his exploits in Austria with Christoph Wiesner.
He's got some photos that show how they butcher pigs.
I wrote about Bryce recently.
That Mangalitsa below looks fat. There's nothing wrong with its belly - it is just a very fat pig.
Looking at that pig, I'm reminded that the shoulder butt - a very popular cut, is a mere 10% of the carcass, by weight. It might be even less on these hippos: their extra weight mostly goes on as fat, which they primarily store on their back and belly. Just because they get big, they don't get big everywhere.
I get a little sad when I see the just-slaughtered pig hung up.
I've seen photos from Christoph showing even fatter Mangalitsas. This one's belly looks strangely big - but its not. Its just a fat Mangalitsa pig.
We generally slaughter ours at smaller weights than Christoph, because then they are suitable for fresh meat too. To make the most of the really fat Mangalitsa carcasses, you need to process them.
One thing we find is that many Americans don't understand that pigs of different weights are optimal for different things. They tend to think pigs are pigs - which given the homogeneity in breed (meat-type) and feed, is understandable.
The Mangalitsa is an extreme lard-type breed. The commonly available breeds are meat-type, and taste very similar to each other). Besides breed, age at slaughter is a major determinant of quality.
I saw a question at answers.com about pigs:
Are pigs destructive?The answer:
Pigs can be destructive, but are not always destructive. It depends on the pig. If the pig is usually very calm and collected, it isn't very destructive. If it is usually hyper and angry, it is usually very destructive. It also depends on how tame the pigs are. There are a number of factors that play into this, but pigs can be destructive. Most of the time, they aren't.
Historically, it was clear:
The public's attitude towards pigs — which, to be fair, was based on the fact that the animals were notoriously destructive in their search for food and were deemed, according to historian Joseph Felt, "dangerous to the life and limb of young children" — can be seen in a deal made between Salem selectmen and John Cromwell in 1680. Cromwell was given permission to use the Burying Point on what is now Charter Street for grazing cattle, sheep or other animals, "Except swine which we alow not...".
And then there's wild pigs:
With a title as alarming as "the most harmful invasive mammal in the world," it's no wonder that Oregon officials worry about the spread of feral pigs. They'll eat almost anything and root up the ground anywhere they gather. Weeds are the only species able to come back after that destruction.
One thing I find funny about Mangalitsa pigs, particularly the blonds, is that they look very cute even as they destroy stuff. A bit like a Komondor - a mean Hungarian dog that looks disarmingly cute.
Chef Mark Richardson (of The Four Seasons) is placing his second order. He buying loins.
Wooly Pigs sold Jardiniere some pork in 2008, but it wasn't Mangalitsa. This is the first time they've bought our Mangalitsa pork.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Mike Sula, a journalist I've corresponded with for quite a while, has an article in Chicago Reader about Triple S Farms's (Stan Schutte's) Mangalitsa pigs. Last we saw the pigs, they were tiny:
The cocky-looking pig shown at top is presumably one of the two striped piglets pictured above, 8 months later. From the article, here's where those pigs are going:
As described in the article, Schutte's Mangalitsas are finished on a special diet:
"The first thing I said was 'I want one,'" says Pat Sheerin [Signature Room]. He told his brother Mike [Blackbird], who put himself down for two. Schutte also got commitments from Chris Pandel of the Bristol and chef Michael Higgins from Maldaner's in Springfield. Virant went in on a pig with chefs from the Boka restaurant group, which is planning to host two back-to-back dinners in December at which Virant, Perennial's Poli, Boka's Giuseppe Tentori, and Stephanie Izard of the forthcoming Drunken Goat will each prepare a course with Mangalista pork. The other chefs are also planning special dinners that month, with the exception of Mike Sheerin, who'll be offering a Mangalitsa tasting menu throughout January at Blackbird.
He feeds them a mix of his own organic grains, particularly barley, and in August they got apples—but in the fall, when Schutte added acorns purchased from a nut grower in southern Illinois to their diet, they began to turn their snouts up at everything else.Schutte's program for his six and our own much larger production remind me of Christoph Wiesner: most of his pigs get a low-PUFA diet similar to ours - because that's effective and affordable. The few special pigs (typically his own) are penned in the forest to eat acorns (and fed supplemental grain if necessary). I don't think Christoph sells any of his special pigs; there's never enough to spare.
Triple S Farms, along with nearly all of our feeder pig customers, have finished their pigs on partly or completely on acorns and forage, along the lines of Spanish Iberico bellota producers.*
The fact that so many of our customers strive to make the most of our pigs is in keeping with other extreme behaviors, like visiting Austria to learn how to kill and process Mangalitsas from experts, or staging classes in America (with Austrian experts) on that topic.
When I see that, it is clear that Mangalitsa producers are doing a lot more than just preserving the Mangalitsa breed - we are enriching America's culinary scene with a new sort of food, increasing awareness of topics like "fat quality" and popularizing relatively unknown (in America) but powerful techniques like seam butchery.
If a journalist was going to write something about the Mangalitsa phenomenon in America, I'd key in on those things - because those are the new trends.
* Due to various constraints (age at slaughter and amount of acorns), I doubt many American Mangalitsa producers will fatten them exactly like Spain's best pigs in 2009 - but in coming years, I can see it happening. As should be clear to people familiar with the American Mangalitsa phenomenon, if anyone is going to do it just like in Spain, it will be a Mangalitsa producer.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
The Mangalitsa is going to be the star of The Cadillac Of Pig Dinners. Chef Paul Virant of Vie, Chef Giuseppe Tentori of BOKA, Perennial's Chef Ryan Poli and Top Chef alumnus Stephanie Izard of the soon-to-be Drunken Goat are paying homage to the Hungarian Hog with a 4 course dinner. The host chef prepares the amuse and dessert, and the remaining three each prepare a course using a different cut of the meat.I called the restaurant and found out it won't be Mangalitsa from Wooly Pigs, distributed by Foods In Season, but rather, from Triple S Farms, one of our many feeder pig customers.
There's an article in the New York Times about how 19th century fashions have returned to popularity. Tweeds, bowlers and all sorts of clothes that most of us only know from pictures are fashionable again.
When I saw the images from the article, I was reminded that the Mangalitsa hasn't changed much. Since 1833, it has been an extreme lard-type breed.
The popular breeds have all changed with the times, becoming leaner and less flavorful, to the point that the Mangalitsa is in a category of its own as the most juicy, flavorful, satisfying breed of pig.
Donauschwaben with their pigs. Note the clothing.
Hungarians with fat Mangalitsa pigs. More fashionable clothing.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
It is getting to be the time to kill pigs. Winter is coming, so it is the right time to cure meat without refrigeration. Also, if you kill the pigs now, you don't have to take care of them when the weather turns really bad and it gets hard to water the pigs (assuming you have a traditional farm, like the Mangalitsa producers in Austria).
Chef Bryce Lamb (formerly of 25 Brix in Gig Harbor) is a Mangalitsa enthusiast. Here's what he told Taste Washington about a year ago:
I have recently discovered Mangalitsa pork. As soon as I assumed my role at Brix 25, I made the call to Wooly Pigs for sample product. To say the least, I loved it. It reminded me of the pork I was able to get when I was cooking over seas. It is so much better than typical American pork. Currently we are using Mangalitsa in a stuffed pork raviolo at the restaurant.
There was a special event at The Herbfarm in early 2009, led by Christoph Wiesner, a man who has dedicated his career to breeding, fattening, exporting, slaughtering, processing Mangalitsa pigs - and teaching people about them.
Chef Lamb attended, where he spent 3 days learning all aspects of how to process Mangalitsa pigs the way the Austrians do.
The 2010 class in New Jersey is modeled on that class. At the New Jersey event, students will slaughter, butcher, cook and cure Mangalitsas, under the supervision of Christoph Wiesner.
Having already attended the 3-day Mangalitsa class at The Herbfarm, Chef Lamb recently went to Austria, to learn firsthand from the Wiesners and others. He sent me an email saying he'll be work with Christoph's butcher for a week. That's Marcel Kropf, Austria's best master butcher. Here's Kropf showing how he cuts up a pig, using Austrian seam butchery techniques.
Look at Chef Lamb's facebook page, I was happy to see the following:
... just butchered and cured 50KL of mangalitsa, cooling down the blood sausage, sleep and Vienna in the AM.Which is pretty cool. I'm pretty sure he'll kill a bunch more, before he comes home. By the time Bryce is done, I suspect he will be the American chef who is most expert at slaughtering, butchering and processing Mangalitsa pigs into food.
I think that's pretty cool!
It is likewise time to kill the "mangalica" in Hungary. I found these nice photos on the web, as part of this article. I'm including them here so that people can get a sense of the slaughter phase. Essentially, one takes a wonderful animal, with tremendous personality and cognitive powers, and turns it into a lot of ridiculously tasty food:
The pig is very cute.
Hungarians burn off the hair, Germans use scalding hot water.
When the pigs are de-haired, you can see how fat they are. There's no muscle definition, unlike typical pigs. Given the size of this pig, I think it might be different than the one shown above.
Its a fun time for everyone.