Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Paletillas - Wooly Pigs - Seam Butchery

Photo by bdcard.

I was reminded tonight of just how revolutionary Wooly Pigs is.

Morgan Weber of Revival Meats tweeted about the above photo, originally posted by bdcard. If you read bdcard's caption, you'd get the impression those things are hams.

They aren't - they are shoulders. The people who attended Pigstock 2010 know that - because they learned how to make those cuts from Mangalitsa pigs.

Typical Anglo-American butchery takes the shoulder of a pig and produces a jowl, shoulder butt and picnic shoulder. The butt and picnic don't sell for much - mostly because to produce them, one cuts through a bunch of muscles, wasting a lot of meat.

With seam butchery, that same shoulder can become a few very useful cuts:


This shoulder differs from the Spanish ones shown above in that the blade bone (shoulder blade) has been removed. This shoulder is ready for curing. It can also be used for fresh meat.

Once cured, the shoulder is very valuable. As in the photos above, it looks great too. Most people would think it was a ham.


The neck is called a "Schopf" in Austrian German. It is more sought after than the loin, because it features very marbled meat. It has a flap of meat that wraps around the log-like portion, so the whole thing can be stuffed and roasted. That's why you read about Mangalitsa necks being served in fancy European restaurants.


The fatback from the shoulder is the hardest on the pig. It makes the best lardo or salami fat.

At least for us, cutting the pigs this way leads to more valuable cuts. You'd think that anyone who produces high-value pigs would want their pigs cut the same way - if only to maximize the value of the shoulder.

What's shocking, and why I wrote this post, is that right now, Wooly Pigs (via its processor Swiss Meats) is the only company that can produce these cuts wholesale. To my knowledge, there is no other USDA-inspected meat processor that can produce these cuts.

How is it that we are the only? Wouldn't you think that if it was a good thing, others would do it too?

It is the same reason that we are the only company to breed Mangalitsa pigs in the USA: because we did it first, and nobody else is copying us yet.

Just as Wooly Pigs had to import the Mangalitsa pig so that we could all enjoy some of the best tasting pork in the world, and just as we had to import European feeding techniques to make the pigs have the best fat, we have had to import European expertise so that we can make the most of our pork.

When I think of these accomplishments, I think, "That's Wooly Pigs" - because no other pork producer has done anything similar.

No comments: