Monday, June 7, 2010

Simple Ham

The Herbfarm's Pigs

I visited the Herbfarm's remaining two pigs yesterday. The video shows them exiting their shelter to drink. It was relaxing and fun to see the pigs. They wanted to get scratches and pets, but they were so filthy I didn't want to touch them.

It is amazing that pigs can live in their own filth and produce such amazingly tasty food. Although most of our pigs generally live in less muck, on small farms throughout history, that's been the norm, and it doesn't seem to hurt the taste.

Mangalitsa Ham.

Afterwards, I visited the Herbfarm's kitchen. Among other things, Sous Chef Chris Weber served me some of his ham, made from that bit me two years ago.

The pig tasted like very flavorful. The fat was wonderfully light and clean. As the picture shows, he was quite marbled. I've not eaten a piece of cured meat, made in the USA, from a non-Mangalitsa pig that tasted this good.

It is nice to think that even nasty pigs can contribute something nice to the world.

Two years later, the lard-type pork revolution is underway.

Eating the pig got me to reflect a bit on how things have changed in the last two years. The company is a lot bigger, and our pigs and pork are much better known. I probably wouldn't get bit by a pig anymore. If I did, I wouldn't whine about it.

Here's how you can make ham like Chris Weber:

1) Take a frozen leg of Mangalitsa. Seam it out. Look here for more info (big PDF!).

2) Pack the meat in salt & herbs for 5 days.

3) Knock/wash the salt off. Hang the meat in a wine cellar (55F, approximately 70% humidity) for several weeks.

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