Sunday, February 21, 2010

About Wooly Pigs and Our Products

Early days: buy me - I'm exotic and tasty.

Wooly Pigs has prepared a document about our products. You can read about our distinctive approach, what we produce and why.

In the beginning, it was enough to tell a few select customers what we had (Mangalitsa pork) and sell whole pigs to them. E.g. the French Laundry and Herbfarm staff knew what we had, why it was the best and they bought it. In 2008, the French Laundry and the Herbfarm bought roughly 30% of all the Mangalitsa produced in the USA.

But now we've got a lot more pigs. There's no way Wooly Pigs can sell that many pigs (no matter how cute) to such customers.

Now: buy me - I'm tasty and easy to work with

We are way past that; it is apparent that there aren't many customers who can process whole Mangalitsa pigs in their restaurant kitchen. When I think about who can do this, Chef Stockner springs to mind, as does Devin Knell and Mangalitsa Chef.

The typical steps are wrong. E.g. trim the fat off that loin or shoulder suboptimally and you've lost the lardo - the easiest and most profitable part.

One big advantage that attendees of Mosefund's Pigstock have is that the Wiesners showed them how to prepare their pigs. As a result, you've got people like Austin Banach making very superior lardo and guanciale from his first Mangalitsa half - because he was taught by people who pay their bills by making lardo, in a super-competitive market (Austria).

If he'd ordered in a pig, would he have known how to cut the pig and make the lardo? Maybe not. He might have wound up with a pile of cut up fat, good only for sausage or lard. He might have just stuck that fat in his freezer and forgot about it - because if you don't know how to render lard properly, you'll put it off. Despite the fact that Mangalitsa lard is magical.

It is now our job to decide on how to cut the pigs, get them cut that way, and then market those cuts to people, explaining why they are optimal - so that we can sell lots of Mangalitsa pork to people who don't have the time to process their own pigs, or who work in a restaurant where they can't use all the pig's parts.

Part of that is communicating to people all the special things we've done (PDF), to make the most of our Mangalitsas.

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