Friday, April 30, 2010

A New Breed of Epicurean Delights

The Wall St. Journal has an article on new epicurean delights. It mentions some new truffles, farmed caviar and Mangalitsa pigs:

Mr. Claessen is now extending this method to other animals. "I was interested in breeding the rare Mangalitza pig, and found some in Hungary. I traded one Wagyu cow for four Mangalitza pigs. I used the reverse Atkins method on them, and when we tried the pork last week it was the best I had ever tasted. I brought along Michelin chefs, who were all amazed at its quality," he says. "This is my new project," says Mr. Claessen, who is hoping he has tapped into the next craze in luxury foods. "I am calling it the Wagyu of pigs."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Wu-Tang Pigs

Meishan sow owned by Wooly Pigs

I've written previously about the Meishan breed of pig. It is a Chinese breed that has some traits in common with the Mangalitsa - it is a hardy lard-type pig that, in years past, played a key role in keeping humans alive. To quote Harris on the pig:

The Chinese have kept pigs for approximatley 5000 years, in subsistence conditions. Their traditional pig breeds are noticeably more selected than European breeds, because they've been selected so much longer. Basically, the Chinese stopped whipping their half-wild pigs a long time ago.

Compared to wild boar, the Meishan is good-tempered, incredibly lazy and hyper-prolific. It is the opposite of wild boar, in the same way that a Pug is the opposite of a wild dog. Meishan can be kept in the flimsiest of pens, because they have such little interest in exploring. They sleep, eat, gestate and fatten.

Unlike all other boars I know of, Meishan boars don't get fat. The boars love to "work", but they don't love eating. Perhaps someone, someday, will study Meishan boars and learn something about human obesity.

Meishan pigs don't like to move. E.g. you bring them food and they don't necessarily get up to eat. In that way, they are the un-pigs. If one reflects for a moment on the needs of Chinese subsistence farmers, it makes sense that the Meishan is the pig that it is; it is a pig best-suited for a Malthusian world.

Because of its marvelous traits, the Meishan played a key role improving Europe's pig breeds, as noted by Harris and Charles Darwin. Europe was switching from extensively raised pigs to pen-raised pigs. Chinese had raised pigs in pens longer, so crossing their breeds with Chinese breeds allowed them to benefit from thousands of years of Chinese breeding.

The Swabian Hall, derived from the Meishan and European breeds like the Mangalitsa precursors - contends with Mangalitsa in taste tests. It doesn't look as striking as a Mangalitsa - but it apparently tastes about as good. Over time, the improved breeds were able to edge out the Mangalitsa. The Meishan genes were superior. Even now, Meishan genes give sows an edge.

If you ask USA farmers what they think of the Meishan pigs, they'll probably tell you they are worthless: small and too fat, and in addition, horribly ugly.

When I did my research and saw that they were small and too fat, and hyper-profligate - and most important - famous for having fantastic meat, I knew I wanted to get some - because obviously they might help Wooly Pigs to do a better job producing the best pork.[1]

Basically, if the Swabian-Hall tastes as good as a Mangalitsa, a Meishan might work in our breeding program.

I've since learned even more about Meishans. E.g. there is a market for Meishan pork in Japan, where it is a super-premium delicacy, just as there is a market for Mangalitsa (another pig that is small, "too fat" and ugly - and incidentally, the best-tasting pig raised in the USA).

Many years ago, three labs imported Meishan pigs. As late as last year, at least two (Iowa State and USDA) were breeding them. I found out that one wouldn't sell to the public, while the other was going to shut down the breeding. That meant that the breed would go extinct in the USA.

I decided I'd try to find people who wanted to raise them, to try to keep the genetics available in the USA for future use. For more than a year, whenever people asked about buying Mangalitsa stock, I pointed out that they could get excellent lard-type genetics cheaply, if they acted soon.

Indeed, if someone wanted to copy the business model of Wooly Pigs - that is, acquire lard-type pigs, set up a production and processing network and market the pigs and pork - you could start with the Meishan pigs, without having to import a herd from overseas, avoiding an expensive, risky and time-consuming step.

In an effort to come up with a catchy name, ala "Wooly Pigs", one could name the company "Wu-Tang Pigs" (despite the fact that the Meishans come from Sichuan province, and not nearby Hubei province, home of the Wu Tang mountains).

Mangalitsa chop - photo by Foodista.

Due to my efforts, three farms (one associated with Wooly Pigs) are now keeping some Meishan pigs. Unfortunately, there's no organized breeding effort to preserve the Meishan breed, and none of us have a big stake in the continuing survival of it as a breed. None of us are about to found a "Wu-Tang Pigs" and go all out[2] - despite the fact that the Chinese and the Germans have programs (including products) based on their lard-type breeds that one could copy.

Mangalitsa x Meishan piglets

The herdsman who runs Wooly Pigs's Meishans is delighted with them, because they are so easy to work, and hopes we succeed with them. They are a lot more tame than Mangalitsas.

We have produced some F1 Mangalitsa x Meishan pigs. Some are for sale!

Due to heterosis, they are healthier and will grow faster than purebred Mangalitsa and purebred Meishan pigs. They ought to be the most affordable and economically-gaining 100% lard-type pigs in the USA.

They are very robust and should produce excellent meat. They should do better in hotter weather than Mangalitsa pigs. Having eaten Meishan x Berkshire pork - which was much better than Berkshire pork, I know the Mangalitsa x Meishan pigs will taste excellent.

[1] Among other things, the Meishan chops above look like they've got more marbling than my Mangalitsa chops (also shown) - although many variables besides genetics (feed & age) could explain why they Meishan chops look more marbled.

[2] On most farms, the Meishans are being used, as they have been for the last hundreds of years, to improve existing herds or create new breeds. Barring something like what Olmos es Toth did for Mangalitsa, the Meishan breed probably won't survive in the USA, just as it didn't survive independently in England. It appears these are Japan's Meishan guys, and based on this, I'd guess they might market some F1 crosses.

Mangalitsa Ham

While at the Herbfarm yesterday with a bunch of other people, I got to eat a slice of their Mangalitsa ham. It was made from heavy pigs killed in early 2009, so it was a bit more than a year old.

It was delicious. Particularly interesting: many fellow guests remarked on how excellent the fat was. I suspect that the hams Johnston County Hams is making from our Mangalitsa will be received in the same way: people will talk about how great the fat is.

I thought it was a little salty. It was also a little "young" tasting. Ron Zimmerman says he figures he might as well start cutting into them, because he's got a pile more of them.

My understanding is that it is possible to vacuum pack the hams once they are "just right", and then they'll keep that way indefinitely, without drying out more.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mangalitsa Neck: Herbfarm's Time & Temperature

Sous Chef Chris Weber at the Herbfarm cooks his Mangalitsa necks sous vide at 165F for 14 hours. I ate some today at this event. It was a big hit.

Later on I tried some of their juniper and pepper lardo. It was really great. I will make a batch like that.

It is great that The Herbfarm is willing to share this information; if they wanted, they could refuse to reveal their techniques.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pork Market Perception

When I got into this business, I wasn't a pork fan. I just liked to eat Mangalitsa pigs. I really didn't understand how most chefs and consumers view pork. In the course of selling Mangalitsa pork, I've learned a lot more about this. This article describes typical attitudes quite well.

Given that Mangalitsa pork is so much more flavorful, fatty and expensive than meat-type pork, people marketing Mangalitsa pork typically run into problems, as do chefs who use Mangalitsa pork for the first time. The following may help people selling Mangalitsa pork, or perhaps chefs thinking of using Mangalitsa.

I'll excerpt the article and add my own comments:
The versatility of this favorite meat easily earns it a place on the menu of many restaurants and in the hearts of those who cook it.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mangalitsa in Japan!

Mangalitsa tonkatsu (copied from Tomostyle blog).

A food blog has pictures and descriptions of Mangalitsa tonkatsu in Japan.

That's so cool!

When I learned that Iberico producers were exporting lots of frozen Iberico to Japan, and that the Western Hemisphere wasn't producing anything comparable, I resolved that I would import Mangalitsa stock and start producing Mangalitsa pork in the USA. The reasons:
  • Mangalitsa pigs fit the climate of our "pig belt" better than Iberico breeds.
  • Japanese customers are quality sensitive. If frozen Iberico works for the fussiest Japanese, frozen Mangalitsa would work in America. Indeed, as of 2010, multiple Michelin-starred restaurants regularly buy Wooly Pigs brand Mangalitsa.
  • The USA already exports a lot of pork to Japan; we've got better trade with them than the Spanish. In a decade or two, producers in the USA (perhaps Wooly Pigs, perhaps another company) will probably price the Spanish and Hungarians out of the market.
So I'm happy to see Mangalitsa pork gaining traction in Japan. It will be interesting to see if people prefer it to Iberico.

It would be so neat if Johnston County Hams or Knight Salumi winds up exporting products (made from our pork) to Japan.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Swiss Meat and Sausage Company - Extreme Lard-type Pig Experts

Mike Sloan of Swiss Meat and Sausage Company,
holding a slab of Mangalitsa fatback.

Although Wooly Pigs raises pigs in three states, we kill most of them at Swiss Meat and Sausage Company.

Swiss kills and cuts our pigs in special ways that help to maximize their value. As extreme lard-type pigs, ours are so different from regular pigs that we need very special processing to meet our goals.

Swiss's staff has been trained by Christoph and Isabell Wiesner - people who have been instrumental in teaching people about how to maximize the potential of Mangalitsa pigs. That includes producing free butchery information, as well as teaching hands-on classes for serious hobbyists, chefs and meat processors.

It starts with the slaughter. If the hogs are slaughtered right, the butchers have an easy time. If the hogs are slaughtered incorrectly, yields and quality are lower, and the butchers have to work more.

Worst of all, the consequences of some slaughter mistakes are such that we and our processor customers can't detect them - only the final consumer will.

Bleeding on the ground, pumping the shoulder

Our pigs are lowered onto the kill floor in a group and kept in a pen. The slaughterer stuns them and bleeds them out one by one. That takes more time than just killing each pig in the kill box. It is dangerous and unpleasant work for the workers - they are in their with a bunch of big pigs, working with knives, trying to flip over a stunned pig while the other pigs try to get away from the commotion.

The pigs don't know what's going on; if they knew, they'd try and succeed in busting out.

When sticking a pig, the slaughterer tries to sever the major arteries while avoiding a shoulder stick, which would ruin the neck cut. The goal is to have the blood gush out of the hog. It takes practice and will to get good at that.

After the stick, a worker pumps a front shoulder to get all the blood out as quickly and thoroughly as possible. It is very good that Swiss will do this for us; we want every drop of blood out of the carcass.

Many slaughterhouses stun a hog, shackle and hoist it by a leg and then bleed out the hog. That is fast, cheap and less dangerous. According to Christoph, there are major disadvantages:
  • The two legs of the hoisted hog have different final pH values, which means that they cure differently.
  • The leg that is hoisted doesn't bleed like the other leg.
  • the hoisted hog doesn't bleed out as well as the one on the ground whose shoulder gets pumped.
Proper bleeding is very important, because the hams and shoulders will get processed into products by Johnston County Hams. If we don't get all the blood out, there can be blood spots in the finished hams and shoulders. The costs of those mistakes are high, because by the time they are noticed, the hams have been processed and perhaps even distributed.

After bleeding, goes into tank before scalder

Because our pigs are so hairy, they go into a tank filled with warm water and lye before they go into the scalder. That helps us to get the hairs off quickly.

The inspector at Swiss understands that we don't want him to slash the jowls while he does his job. He doesn't, because the pace is so slow. If he habitually slashed jowls, we'd have Swiss employees cut the jowls (carefully) instead of having him cut - that would satisfy the legal requirements, while allowing us to minimize slashing.

It takes a lot more time and labor to kill the pigs the way we kill them, and it costs a lot more money - but we are just lucky to work with a plant that can meet our needs.

Hams ready for processing.

After the pork cools out, the butchers cut the pigs into the special cuts we produce. They've been trained how to do this. The butchers specialize. For example, as much as possible, the same worker does the same piece. That allows the butcher to get good and fast.

Shoulders ready for processing.

I've written before about the shoulders. To my knowledge, Swiss Meats is the only USDA-inspected kill facility in America that produces these.

Future lardo.

We are now selling hard fatback for making lardo to Knight Salumi (click here to visit Knight Salumi's website). We've optimized our cutting process to produce the maximum yield of hard fat for lardo or salami for Knight Salumi.

I consulted with Christoph on how to get the most hard fat. The goal is to get the biggest pieces possible, without slashes. Christoph made some suggestions. The staff at Swiss took that information and figured out how to cut the pigs. The following pictures show their method.

I don't think any other USDA-inspected kill plant in the USA can produce stuff like this. That's not too surprising - most people don't raise pigs remotely like ours.

In a nutshell, the butcher removes the loin (with ribs and spine), then removes the ribs, then cuts out the finger meat. It takes skill to know where to cut so that the final pieces are separated properly.

First the butcher separates the loin from the belly, where the fat becomes too soft.

He saws through the ribs. Not through the entire piece - just the ribs.

He starts removing the fatback from spine side of the loin. Sawing the ribs make this task easier, because he can fold the loin back away from the fat.

He's cutting out the loin, leaving as much fat on the fatback as possible.

He's removed the loin. That goes to the loin specialist, who will remove the ribs and spine.

The butcher uses a rib puller to remove the ribs from the belly. He removes the breastbone too.

He pulls the belly meat back from the fat and cuts it. He has to know what muscles belong on what piece.

Most of the belly removed. The meat left on the fat is thin. If the meat isn't covered in hard fat, he has to remove that fat. If the fat is hard, it should stay.

He cuts where the fat becomes too soft to make lardo, separating the belly from the fatback. As a result of peeling back the belly meat, the bellies are missing fat and skin along their top.

He trims it up. There's very little lean; the 14-lb piece of fat is almost entirely hard fat for lardo. There's probably only half a pound of meat on it.

He then puts the slab of fat ...

... into the container holding all the other slabs of fat that will get turned into lardo.

Meanwhile, the butcher cutting the fat off the neck produces fat for lardo too. These pieces are the hardest and highest quality:

Fatback from the neck.

As a result of cutting the pigs this way the sirloins and rib-loins are leaner, because most of the fat gets left on the fatback.

Sirloins, bottom viewSirloins, top view

Rib-loins bottom view

Rib-loins, top view

A major change is the blade meat on the rib-loin; rather than having that on the rib-loin, the blade meat winds up on the fatback, while the fat between the eye of the loin and the blade gets cut off.

Without the sort of slaughter and processing that Swiss provides, we'd be stuck selling to expert chefs capable of using half pigs profitably, meat processors capable of using half pigs, and a very small amount of sales to individuals.

Unfortunately, very few chefs (or even meat processors) can buy a half a Mangalitsa, butcher it and process the meat into usable products - and make all that work pay. Even chefs who regularly use meat-type pigs in their restaurants can't typically do it, because Mangalitsa pigs are so different.

As the pictures show, Swiss Meat and Sausage Company is expert at slaughtering and cutting our extreme lard-type pigs. They are playing a key role in preserving Mangalitsa genetics in the USA, by allowing Wooly Pigs and its customers to make the most of its unique pigs. Because they are able to turn our pigs into high-value cuts, we can keep producing Mangalitsa purebreds and hybrids.

Pictures of Madison Club Pigs

Photo copied from By George Farm's blog.

Wouldn't you like to belong to a club that would raise tasty pigs for you to eat?

That's what the Madison Club is doing - raising Mangalitsa pigs for their members.

I've written about them before - but now they've got pictures of their cute pigs.

Hungarians Outraged by British "News"

The error-ridden story of the pigs in Essex has reached Serbia, Hungary and Spain.

Šumadija in modern Serbia (formerly part of Old Hungary) is where the Hungarian archduke József created Mangalitsa (aka mangalica, Mangulica, Mangulac, Mangalitza) pigs.

Although bred by Hungarians, many Serbs are proud that their pigs taste the best and look the neatest. Those people will typically tell you that the breed is Serbian.

Given that the Mangalitsa is part of their culture, I was a bit surprised to see the British story reported as if accurate on a Serb website. A few Serbs pointed out that the pigs in question were just their "Mangulica" pigs.

Then there were the Spanish stories. It is unfortunate to see the information presented as fact in Spain, given the role of Spain (and specific Spaniards like Juan Vicente Olmos) in saving the Mangalitsa breeds.

The story finally seems to have crossed into Hungarian media, creating outrage and charges of theft. Here's a translated Hungarian article. I think it took a while for the tales of the theft of their national treasures to reach Hungary, due to the language barrier.

Of course, the breeds are not in danger of extinction - because companies like Wooly Pigs, Johnston County Hams, Knight Salumi, Foods in Season, DeBragga and Spitler and are selling pigs, pork and products made from pigs with Mangalitsa genetics.[1]

Swiss Meat and Sausage Company - by slaughtering and processing our pigs in a way that maximizes their value - helps to preserve the Mangalitsa breeds. If we didn't have a way to make money off the pigs, we'd go out of business.

If Mangalitsa pigs ever become pets and curiousities (as they are in Britain) - and not a food source - as they are in Continental Europe and the USA - the breeds as they exist now will vanish.

[1] In Europe, much larger companies like Olmos es Toth raise many more Mangalitsa pigs and export their pork and products around the world.

Mangalitsa Pork Study

Results from a scientific study showing that Mangalitsa pork is superior in quality, and, compared to meat-type breeds, in its own category.

This bit made me laugh:
About six 1.27 cm diameter cores were taken from each slice except chops from Mangalitza loin. Only three cores were taken from Magalitza because of the small size of loin.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Pasture Prime Wagyu - Cows, Pigs and Guns

There's a new post from Chef Chris Windus about a visit to Pasture Prime Wagyu by his crew. They got to see Pasture Prime's Wagyu cows, Mangalitsa pigs, turkeys and chickens - and shoot off their guns.

Torm explained that some city-living gun owners are happy to shoot their guns when they visit his place.

British Media on Mangalitsa Pigs

Photo by B Baxter.

There's an article on the web about Mangalitsa pigs, from the British media. It has a number of inaccuracies. I'll try to deal with them here:
The curly coated Mangalitzas, which resemble sheep, are now a dying breed.
Hardly. Due to the efforts of Olmos es Toth, Mangalitsa production is booming in Hungary, after decades of decline.

Due to me, for the first time ever, Mangalitsa pigs are produced in the New World, and production is booming, because people want to eat them. If the British wanted to help, they'd be creating a market for the pork.

Also, there are 3 distinct Mangalitsa breeds - blondes, reds and swallow-bellies (see "Do Mangalica pigs of different colours really belong to different breeds?" by Zsolnai for more info).

In the early 1900s many Lincolnshire curly coats were sold to Austria and Hungary where they were crossed with the Mangalitza, creating the Lincolista.

Three years ago this cross-breed were found thriving in Austria and a small number were brought back to create a herd in Britain.

This makes it sound like "Lincolista" pigs were still around, and that somehow they rediscovered it in Central Europe - which is completely wrong.

If you read L. Gaal's "Animal Husbandry in Hungary in the 19th - 20th centuries" (page 274), you'll see the Lincolista pigs fell out of favor (and went extinct), because they got sick easily and didn't produce the sort of hams that people wanted.

Also, there's no reason to think that the swallow-belly breed or the red Mangalitsa breed carry any Lincolnshire genes, because the Lincolista crosses were done with blonde Mangalitsas.

It seems like the British want to lay claim to Hungarian accomplishments - namely, the creation of three very important pig breeds. How irritating. They might as well claim to have invented the internet or baseball too.

Now three offspring from this herd have gone to Tropical Wings to form part of a programme to prevent the breed from disappearing...
Blond-haired male Buddy, black-coated female Porsche and ginger Margot have already attracted lots of interest from visitors.

"Although there is a small amount of genetic DNA in there, they are in a small way linked to Lincolnshire curly coat," added Denise.

"We want to show people what these native woolly pigs used to look like and ensure the breed remains in this country and survives.

Of course, there's no reason to think the pigs have any Lincolnshire DNA. And breeding a swallow-belly Mangalitsa with a blonde produces mixed pigs, which doesn't help to preserve the blonde Mangalitsa breed, nor the swallow-belly Mangalitsa breed.

If they keep this up, they'll wind up with a synthetic Mangalitsa breed. It will taste good. It won't be one of the three existing Mangalitsa breeds. That's not a bad thing - but the people doing it shouldn't delude themselves.

They are lardier than most breeds, making them perfect for Parma ham-style cuts.

If I was Juan Vicente Olmos, I'd be pretty irritated to read that. He saves the Mangalitsa breeds, creates a worldwide market for their products, and yet still they insist on bringing up Italian "Parma ham"? Can't they talk about "jamon iberico" or "jamon serrano"? Mangalitsa tastes like Iberico, and Olmos makes jamon iberico and serrano - and that's the stuff that explains why the breeds exist and are thriving.[1]

Normally, the media make a big fuss about these pigs because of how they look. How they look is actually very problematic for those trying to make a living from them. The pigs have so much hair, that it causes a lot of problems at the slaughterhouse - either they have to do a lot of manual labor to remove the hair, or the use the hog scalder too much, damaging the hogs' skin. In any case, they charge more, because the hogs take so much longer to dehair.

If it was possible to produce Mangalitsa, equal in every way but their bristles, I'd approve.

When the article says,
"Hair from the pigs is particularly popular in the US as it retains air bubbles under water making it ideal for tying fishing flies."
I wonder - where are these people? Every time we kill pigs, there's a pile of bristles. I'm paying to have them disposed of. Yes, the hairs are great for making flies - but how many people make flies out of biodegradable materials these days?

[1] In America, it is processors like Johnston County Ham and Knight Salumi that are responsible for the Mangalitsa breeds thriving - they are the ones buying the pork wholesale.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Madison Club and Mangalitsa Pigs

We've exported pigs to Wisconsin

Chefs Dan Fox and Jason Veal from Madison Club (of Madison, Wisconsin) visited Pig Breeder #2 (close to Dubuque) and picked up some feeder pigs. They'll fatten them and eventually process them into food.

The Madison Club is a private club, a bit like the Washington Athletic Club.

Chefs Fox and Veal have been quite active in events like this one, so it isn't surprising that they are fattening and processing pigs. It is neat to think of a private club owning its own livestock.

We had a nice chat about things like how to cut Mangalitsa pigs and the cuts that Wooly Pigs sells.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

University District Farmers' Market

A Mangalitsa loin

There's an article in Travel + Leisure that says that the University District Farmers' Market is one of the best farmers' markets in the USA. It specifically mentions heavily-marbled Mangalitsa pork - sold of course, by Wooly Pigs.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Family Farming

There's an article from the Fed reviewing the history of hog raising in the USA. It may surprise some people to read:

Family farms spearhead technological change

As labor became scarcer and more expensive in agriculture, hog production became dramatically more capital intensive even within the context of relatively small family farms. Many farmers are amused when nonfarm opponents of large operations charge that total confinement of animals in environmentally controlled buildings, handling of waste as a liquid, use of antibiotics at subtherapeutic levels in feed, and genetic selection for narrow production-related characteristics are all consequences of corporate agriculture. In reality, all were initiated on or by family farms in the 1950s and 1960s.

Many people assume that a family farm (a family owned and work by a family) necessarily operates in a more traditional and somehow "better" way than a corporate farm.

In the USA, something like 98% of all farms are family farms. Therefore, empahsizing that your farm is a family farm doesn't say much. When people hype the "family farm-y" quality of their farm, I get suspicious.

For instance, I was asking a guy today, who works for a big pork company, what makes his pork different from the pork of other big pork companies. He explained that his company's pork is produced by family farmers, while that of his competition might or might not be.

Most tellingly for me, he didn't talk about things like breed, feed, how they raise the pigs, etc. Hence, I can't imagine that you can taste the difference between his stuff and his competitor's.

To the extent that consumers pay more for identical things just because a salesperson says one was produced via a more virtuous process, all they are doing is encouraging fraud.

The ownership structure of a farm is orthogonal to how the farm operates.

For instance, Hutterites live and farm in religious communes. They wear traditional clothing. Their farms are all family farms - in the sense that they are worked by the families who own them. What could be more "family farm-y" than a bunch of families living and working on their own farm?

Yet, the Hutterites have been famous for decades for embracing innovation. Because they live communally, they pool their money and buy the newest farm equipment, instead of things like personal autos, electronics, etc. For example, some Hutterites produce pork. When they talk about their pigs, they don't show pigs - they show the control panel of their state-of-the-art hog building. They obviously have a very modern farm.

I'm not attacking them for having a modern farm. However, whenever people talk about how their "family farm" produces something, I figure they are trying to sell me something. I'd prefer if they just talked about their products and their relative merits, instead of trying to monetize their ownership structure.

For example, here's some info about the organization the Hutterite pork producers mentioned above sell to. I've emphasized the "family farm" wording below:
Our Sustainable Family Farm Partnerships produce Salmon Creek Farms Natural Pork products that will tantalize and excite your taste buds! Our Family Farm Partners have generations of farming and livestock experience. Their entrepreneurial spirit combined with their commitment to the land and livestock they cherish will guarantee your enjoyment of Salmon Creek Farms Natural Pork!
That marketing blurb is funny: the fact that the people making the pork are entrepreneurs and devoted to their land and livestock is going to guarantee my enjoyment of their product? So if we could just get them to be more entrepreneurial, and more concerned about land and animals, the meat would be that much more enjoyable?

My understanding is that if they are devoted to quality, that's what counts. E.g. if a rich guy buys the pigs with the best genetics and feeds them to produce the best meat and fat, he's going to produce the best. It doesn't matter that he's paying staff to do the dirty work. He doesn't need to love the land or animals to make food that tastes good; he just needs to love producing food that tastes good, and be willing to spend what it costs to produce it.

Other farmers, richer or poor, can love the land all they want, be even more entrepreneurial or shovel the pig poop themselves - they can't beat the guy who pigheadedly does what it takes to produce the best tasting stuff.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

GERD Sufferers - Mangalitsa pork

Here's someone who says that Mangalitsa pork helped her to deal with GERD.

I agree that Mangalitsa pork is very easy to digest compared to other meat.

Wooly Pigs, DeBragga and Spitler, New York City - Protect Ya Neck

DeBragga and Spitler, has delivered our necks to Macelleria Restaurant and to Commerce Restaurant.

I congratulate DeBragga and Spitler for getting restaurants to buy our exotic cuts from our exotic pigs. The fact that they are starting with necks, an excellent meaty cut, blows my mind, because necks are unknown in the USA.

If anything, "pig neck" sounds a bit gross, like "chicken neck" does. In Austria, it is called a "Schopf". Here's how Food and Wine wrote about necks it a while back:
In addition to an intriguing wine-bar menu, with dishes like goulash made from necks of organic Mangalitza pigs with Bohemian dumplings, there were two seasonal tasting menus.
Also, note that Macelleria is a steakhouse. Recently, via Foods in Season, we've been selling to steakhouses across the USA: Michael Mina in Detroit and La Vegas, McKendricks in Atlanta and Harrah's 37 in Robinsonville, MS.

As Mangalitsa pork goes mainstream, steakhouses (and fast food) will serve a lot of Mangalitsa.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ardesia - Best Bar Food in NY

According to "Time Out New York", Ardesia has the most ambitious bar food. As "Time Out" explains:
... while special dinners highlight top-notch ingredients such as a multicourse tasting of the exceptional Mangalista pig breed. Eats this good could make you forget you came to drink...
I'm happy that a variety of restaurants recognize the superior quality of Mangalitsa pork, and that critics are giving them credit for using the best meat and fat produced in America.

I'm also happy that Ardesia in in New York - I'm hoping that good press in New York paves the way for Johnston County Hams and Knight Salumi to sell their cured products that they are making from our pork in New York - the USA's best market for Mangalitsa pork and products.

The more people there have heard of the exceptional Mangalitsa pig breed (details here) the better.

Lafitte Opens with Wooly Pigs Brand Mangalitsa Products

Russel Jackson's Lafitte has opened in San Francisco. He's got Mangalitsa cured products like prosciutto and guanciale. The raw material for those products came from Mangalitsa pigs produced by this company, Wooly Pigs.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Mangalitsa Achieves Critical Mass

Where you might encounter some locally fattened Mangalitsa.

There's an interesting development in the Mangalitsasphere - in New York, Florida, Texas and California and Minnesota, Mangalitsa fatteners are starting to deliver their second and third (or tenth) pigs to nearby chefs. Some of the chefs have begun to blog about their unique Mangalitsa creations, made from their local pigs.

In New York, Mosefund has established a network of restaurants that use their Mangalitsa. Chef Angerer celebrates his Mangalitsa lardo on his blog.

In Florida, there's house-cured Mangalitsa bacon and lardo - with Pasture Prime Wagyu supplying the Mangalitsa.

In Texas, Revival Meats supplies Chef Pera and Shepherd with Mangalitsa. They are competing in Oklaholma this weekend, at Cochon 555. There's real teamwork in Houston.

In California, Suisun Valley Farm is about to deliver a few pigs to some of its first customers - Chez Panisse and One Market.

In Minnesota, Provenance Farm is working with one of the Twin Cities' best chefs.

Wooly Pigs bred all those pigs, selling the feeders to Mosefund, Pasture Prime Wagyu, Revival Meats, Suisun Valley Farm and Provenance Farm.

As a result of Wooly Pigs selling feeder pigs to small farms across the USA, Mangalitsa is a national phenomenon. Wooly Pigs isn't the only company promoting Mangalitsa; there's chefs and foodies across the USA celebrating their local Mangalitsa producers. Mangalitsa isn't a fad or a flash in the pan.

Finally, the fact that so many producers are generating real excitement in their various markets shows that Mangalitsa isn't hype. Mangalitsa is really incomparably better than other pork. It really is some of the tastiest stuff you can eat.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Mangalitsa Lard Pound Cake

Inspired by Chris Shepherd, I made a Mangalitsa lard pound cake. I used this recipe, but substituted 1 cup of lard for the 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup margarine.

It is a very tasty cake. It was very easy to make - a lot less work than the Oreo-like cookies.

Mangalitsa Lard Pound Cake


  • 1 cup Mangalitsa lard
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

You can order the lard here:
Foods in Season

Chef Shop

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Eat High Fat Breakfast to Stay Healthy

There's a new study published in the International Journal of Obesity making the news and blogs. The study implies that a high fat breakfast is healthy, because it works against metabolic syndrome.

This is good news for Mangalitsa bacon and Mangalitsa lardo manufacturers.