Friday, September 24, 2010

Johnston County Hams Shipping USA's First Mangalitsa Hams

Ellen Malloy at the Restaurant Intelligence Agency helped me to put the press release below together. Restaurant Intelligence Agency is an online alternative to traditional restaurant public relations.

I got in touch with Ellen after I saw this post, which mentions Mangalitsa pork in passing. It turns out she's a Mangalitsa fan!

Johnston County Hams Shipping USA's First Mangalitsa Hams

Johnston County Hams is proud to present America's first ham from heirloom Mangalitsa pigs, now available for purchase direct from the producer and in fine restaurants throughout the country. Previously only available imported from Spain, Magalista ham is unique among hams for its strong meaty taste and unctuous mouthfeel, hallmarks of the Mangalitsa breed. These Johnston County Hams are dry-cured using simple ingredients like salt and sugar and aged for 7 months in special ham-aging rooms. The cost of the American-made Mangalitsa ham from Johnston County Ham is $22 per pound.

Johnston County Hams is producing the Mangalitsa hams and shoulders. Johnston County Hams has produced hams for over 60 years. The curemaster, Rufus Brown, has 3 decades of ham-making experience and is the son of the former curemaster.

"This is the best pork in America, from being bred and raised by people who know and care about doing things the right way. Our bacon and ham products from Johnston County Hams are some of the best I've tasted period," says John Besh, executive chef and co-owner of the Besh Restaurant Group.

Unlike all common pig breeds in the USA, the Mangalitsa is an extreme lard-type breed. Its genetics make it meat especially flavorful and its fat famously creamy. In Europe, breeds like the Iberico compete with the Mangalitsa. In America, there are no similar breeds, so the Mangalitsa is the USA's only super-premium pig breed.

Famous restaurants across the USA, including Per Se (NY), Corton (NY), Charlie Trotter's (IL), Michael Mina (CA), Craft (CA) and the Besh Restuarant Group's (all LA) August, La Provence, Lüke, Besh Steak, Domenica and The American Sector regularly use Mangalitsa pork.

In 2008, The French Laundry, widely thought of as America's best restaurant, bought 10% of America's entire Mangalitsa production.

New York Cit's Per Se, a restaurant with 3 Michelin stars, and sister restaurant to The French Laundry, uses the Mangalitsa ham from Johnston County Hams. Craft in Los Angeles and Louisiana's Besh Restaurant Group likewise use Mangalitsa bacon and ham from Johnston County Hams. Besh's La Provence also fattens its own Mangalitsa pigs, on its attached farm.

Johnston County Hams is the only domestic producer of cured Mangalitsa hams and shoulders, purchasing its Mangalitsa pork from Heath Putnam Farms.

In America, Mangalitsa pork is produced in extremely limited quantity, primarily by Heath Putnam Farms, the first company to import Mangalitsa pigs and the European method of raising them to the western hemisphere. The pigs are finished on expensive grains like barley and wheat, giving the fat a light and clean taste. They are also raised extra old and heavy, making them taste more flavorful than typical American pigs.

John Besh continues, "... it has everything to do with the entire process of the barley-based diet, the pristine conditions the pigs are raised in to the time-honored seam butchery to the curemasters that are the true masters of their craft. Just one look at the velvety soft fat of the cured fatback which truly does melt in your mouth and you'll begin to understand why the bacon and hams set the benchmark for other artisans to follow."

Mangalitsa ham is availbale to the trade through distributors such as Foods in Season ( and DeBragga and Spitler (

If you would like to receive a sample for your consideration, please email [obviously this is for journalists, not the multitudes who want free samples of Mangalitsa ham]

Relevant websites:

Johnston County Hams:
Heath Putnam Farms:

Johnston County Hams contact info:
Rufus Brown

Heath Putnam Farms contact info:
Heath Putnam

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