Friday, February 26, 2010

Pig Necks, Fatback, Lardo & Knight Salumi

Chef Bond's Lardo - Boston Globe

The Sausage Debauchery has photos and explanations of the Mangalitsa he's curing, including a neck.

Pig neck. Just think - when did you last see that at the butcher counter?

Wooly Pigs sells Mangalitsa necks, shoulders (paletilla-style, to Johnston County Hams), hams and other cuts appropriate for curing, like hard fat for making lardo or salami. We also - and proudly - make the best lard.

Rey Knight stunned by the fat quality.
Photo by Audrey Chin.

Just yesterday, Rey Knight of Knight Salumi ordered our hard fat from our next kills (you can see some of this fat here on p. 7, bottom right, behind the sirloin). You can use that to make lardo, like Chef Bond's, pictured above.

Mangalitsa lardo tastes great. The Wiesners export pepperoncini lardo to Japan, where it is a luxury, used to produce sushi. It is difficult to explain how much better Mangalitsa lardo tastes than the typical American lardo - but soon, thanks to Wooly Pigs and Knight Salumi - Americans will learn.

It is extremely unusual that fatback would be sold at a premium, and sought after by meat processors. People have spent decades trying to breed the fat out of pigs, because, in the mass market, pig fat is a money-loser.

The fact that a meat processor wants to buy the hard fat and make lardo is vindication that Wooly Pigs - a company built on the most fat-prone, best-tasting pigs, is making the right moves.

Modern Luxury Magazine, Mangalitsa Dinners

Modern Luxury Magazine reports:

Who: Napa Valley Grille
What: Guess that farm! This Friday, join chef Joseph Gillard for a four-course dinner pairing Napa Valley wines with a variety of lamb dishes, which features organic meat from an undisclosed location. Dishes are set to include leafy mache and young butter lettuce salad and lamb meatballs, and if you didn't reserve one of the 25 available seats in time, it's not the end of the world—the chef's next dinner, which pairs Mangalitsa Pig with Central Coast Pinots, is already scheduled for March 12...

I love that title, "Modern Luxury Magazine".

Mangalitsa is a modern luxury. About a hundred years ago, they were luxuries, because although lard-type pigs like the Mangalitsa were common, people were broke and couldn't afford them. Now people are rich but food has gotten so cheap, Mangalitsa appears very expensive compared to other choices.

There are other Magalitsa dinners going on around the USA:
EDIT: Modern Luxury Magazine is on top of the Mangalitsa phenomenon, mentioning that Klee in NYC and Ardesia will serve a bunch of Mangalitsa (produce by Mosefund, by the way):

Friday Even though there’s a solid foot of snow on the ground, Klee Brasserie chef Daniel Angerer is already thinking warm weather and open-toed shoes. Now through March 20 he’s offering a three-course dinner menu combining winter and spring ingredients including mangalitsa bruschetta with winter greens...

Pork is king right now, and the Mangalitsa, a curly-haired hog that’s gracing menus all over town in various forms, is the star of the show Sunday night at Ardesia, where chef Amorette Casaus is doing a $30, three-course porkapalooza. Course one: frisee salad with cannelloni beans and Mangalitsa bacon bits. Course two: Mangalitsa three ways—braised, seared and smoked—with winter vegetables...
I'm really starting to like Modern Luxury Magazine!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Johnston County Hams

Rufus Brown (l) learning from Christoph Wiesner (center)
how to eviscerate a Mangalitsa (bottom right corner)
photo: Rey Knight of Knight Salumi

I visited Johnston County Hams a while ago - writing about my visit here.

Soon Johnston County Hams will sell their first Mangalitsa hams, bacon and jowl bacon. Their curemaster is Rufus Brown, the subject of this New York Time article. Those will be the first dry-cured Mangalitsa hams produced and sold in America under USDA inspection - a milestone for Wooly Pigs.

Of course, the French Laundry and The Herbfarm produced Mangalitsa hams - but they weren't produced under USDA inspection, which means they had to be consumed on the premises. Rufus's hams can be shipped across state lines, sold to grocery stores, sold to meat distributors, etc.

Rufus was at Mosefund's second 2010 Pigstock, where students learned how to slaughter, cut and process Mangalitsa pork from Christoph and Isabel Wiesner. Rufus was the most serene and comfortable guy at the event - he was clearly having fun.

While Rufus was at Mosefund's 2010 Pigstock, he, Christoph, Thomas Schneller and I settled on a new way to cut our hams and shoulders (detailed in this PDF) - and two days later, Christoph trained our processor to cut the hams and shoulders that way.

Readers of this blog may not know Thomas Schneller, but he teaches at the CIA and wrote the textbook on meat. Schneller explained that the way country hams are cut (right through the muscles) leads to them drying out - and that if you can get them cut differently, go for it. He's got a blog entry about his visit to Mosefund's Pigstock.

It was an interesting meeting: Christoph Wiesner (Mangalitsa expert), Rufus Brown (the guy making the most Mangalitsa cured products in the USA), Thomas Schneller (the guy who wrote the book on meat) and me (the guy who has to produce the Mangalitsa) all in one place, talking about the details of how to cut the hams. That's the magic of Pigstock!

As of that meeting, our hams are cut without cuts through major muscles, and without cutting the bones. They ought to be moist hams when finished, and the lack of cuts to the bones means more of them ought to ripen without spoiling.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Oink Moo

I found a blog written by a customer about his cured meat adventures.

David is an extreme hobbyist - able to kill pigs, de-hair them, get the guts out, cut the pigs up, make salalmi, etc. He was at the 3-day Mangalitsa event at the Herbfarm in January 2009. David works meticulously - so I figure in the end, he'll get very good at making salami.

Calling all Magyars

I ordered a bunch of sweet Hungarian paprika so that we could make Hungarian-style lardo - Paprikaspeck. Here is a picture of what the finished product looks like - beautiful red and white blocks of fat.

To make that product, I had to order 30+ pounds of sweet Hungarian paprika. That's a lot.

If anyone has any suggestions on what meat products (e.g. fresh sausage) to make from the paprika, I'd appreciate hearing them. I'm inclined to make paprika and garlic fresh sausage.

One neat "trick" I learned from the Wiesners is that when you make paprika-flavored salami or sausage, it makes it look like there's more meat in the salami or sausage than there really is. That's good, because Mangalitsa fat tastes great (and there's a lot of it), so the more you can get away with using, the better.

Mangalitsa Lard Retailers - Foods in Season, Chef Shop

Foods in Season sells Wooly Pigs brand lard.

I'm happy to announce that Chef Shop has started marketing our lard too.

The lard is made by our processor, Swiss Meats of Swiss, Missouri. I doubt there's a better processor that can kill and process hogs. They kill the pigs there, cut them in a very special way, and are making our first batch of lardo and Speck.

After one round of lard-making, we settled on a low-temperature process (245F) modeled on what our Austrian friends do. The resulting lard is particularly neutral and white.

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.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Jason Bond Debuts Mangalitsa Pork in Boston

Jason Bond of Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro is having a Mangalitsa-based dinner March 3.

I got to know Chef Bond at Mosefund's 2010 Pigstock. He's a very nice guy, and he really seems to get what Mangalitsa pigs are good for. If I lived in Boston, I'd also want to see what his friend, Chef Leviton, did for a Mangalitsa dinner.

Bond and Leviton are really something; they can slaughter, eviscerate, butcher and prepare a Mangalitsa (cured or cooked). Like Mangalitsa Chef, they can do things that mere mortals can't.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wooly Pigs Brand Mangalitsa at Twist Restaurant

Twist restaurant (run by 3-michelin starred chef Pierre Gagnaire) ordered some of our new Austrian-style cuts from Foods in Season.

I hope Twist likes what they ordered!

There's so many things that can (and do) go wrong when dealing with meat.

I won't get into what they ordered - but they did order a bunch of our unique cuts. I'm not surprised that the first customer to go for these special cuts is a restaurant like Twist.

Revival Meats Pigs

The Revival Meats blog has a post about pig fencing.

It has a nice picture of their pigs, in a totally different landscape than what I'm used to seeing. Where they are now, there's no snow or ice on the ground. There's no black ice or sub zero temperatures. Those are probably some comfortable pigs.

It is amazing to think that pigs formerly owned by Wooly Pigs are now in Texas. The map shows farms where you might encounter our pigs:

Texas, Florida and Louisiana are the outer limits. It will be interesting to see how the pigs do once it gets hot and humid. The ones in Florida survived, so I figure the Louisiana and Texas pigs will too.

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.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pasture Prime Wagyu

Pasture Prime Wagyu in Summerfield, Florida fattens Mangalitsa pigs. They've got a nice picture of one of their pigs on their front page.

They'll probably start killing their first batch of pigs fairly soon.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Adam Fuss Splits a Pig

Adam Fuss, photographer, splits a pig at Mosefund's 2010 Pigstock (second 3-day session) - as photographed by Adam Danforth, butchery expert, of Marlowe and Daughters.

Ruth Reichl on Mangalitsa Lard

The prettiest pigs!

Ruth Reichl just tweeted the following:

Mangalitza's are the prettiest pigs. And their lard is perfect in pastry. Easy to roll out, very flaky, lovely, fresh flavor.

It is great to have an authority like Ruth Reichl say that Mangalitsa lard is perfect for pastry.

I think it is also great for cooking stuff like vegetables, fried chicken, etc.

You can buy it here.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pigs are Hard to Kill

The video above shows that pigs can be hard to kill. The student at Mosefund's 2010 Pigstock's job is to shoot the pig in the brain with the bolt gun. The pig's natural instincts are to stay away from the humans and try to rejoin the other pigs.

The pigs that got slaughtered before this pig were a lot more trusting, explaining why the've already been turned into pork. They came out to investigate the humans and see if maybe there were any treats.

In the end, Christoph Wiesner grabs the pig, to stop the endless pig chasing. The student should then come in and stun the pig. But he isn't able to do it, so then Isabell, Christoph's wife, stuns the pig for him.

Hopefully this video makes it clear why slaughterhouses are the way they are; they make it easy to humanely and economically slaughter animals. One consequence of their design is that they don't look natural, look nice or seem fair - but of course, that's not the point.

Christoph Wiesner Cutting Pigs in a Basement

Michael Clampffer of Mosefund had a pig half in his basement that needed cutting. Christoph showed Dave and me how to do it.

Here's a video of him showing how to finish up a side so that it can be turned into bacon.

When Christoph visited Swiss Meats and trained the staff how to cut our Mangalitsa, he taught them about grading and sorting the fat.

Mosefund 2010 Pigstock Photos

Here's some photos I took at Mosefund's 2010 Pigstock (the first 3-day session). I finally solved my hardware problems, allowing me to upload these:

The top shows Spike, owner of Woodberry Kitchen, with his team and the pig that they killed, de-haired and eviscerated. They are happy and proud to be done with their pig because it takes a lot to go from a live pig to nicely split halves - more on that in another post.

When the Woodberry Kitchen group left, they took home two feeder pigs.

Here's Morgan Weber of Revival Meats preparing a side to be made into bacon. He's very serious about meat quality.

Michael Leviton of Lumiere (Newton, MA) - a friend of Jason Bond (another Massachusetts chef). Michael did an excellent job cutting his half. He was so serious! I'd hate to compete with him. Here's a profile of him from 2000 Food & Wine - profiled as a best new chef.

Mangalitsa Festival

There's a nice bunch of photos here showing Budapest's Mangalitsa Festival.

I think it is neat they have roast pork, cured products and live pigs in downtown Budapest.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Audrey Chin's Photo of Rey Knight

Audrey Chin took a nice photo of Rey Knight at Mosefund's 2010 Pigstock. I like the lighting and composition. I find the picture funny and pretty at the same time.

Rey Knight is the guy in the middle, staring inside the pig. Rey is a salami ninja. To make our Hungarian-style Mangalitsa salami, he sampled (and cultured) the mold from a Pick mangalica Szalami, so that the resulting product had the same mold. If I was a salami-maker, I'd be that methodical.

Rey's Mangalitsa salami (I got a few pounds from the first mini batches) was the best American-made salami I'd ever eaten.

The Sausage Debauchery Visits Mosefund

The Sausage Debauchery visits Mosefund. He's got some pictures of their pigs relaxing.

Funny to think that just a few weeks ago, things on the farm were so different:

Revival Meats Blog

Meat-type pork (top) and Mangalitsa (bottom)

Regular readers of this blog might enjoy this post by Morgan Weber of Revival Meats.

He's got a comparison featuring some Manglaitsa fed grains and some fed acorns, and a pork chop of a meat-type pig. The top picture shows the meat-type pork, while the bottom picture shows the Mangalitsta.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mosefund Mangalitsa Dinners

I saw on Facebook today that Mosefund's Mangalitsa pigs will be featured in two special dinners.

The first is on Long Island. The menu looks incredible. Michael Clampffer was kind enough to let me attend Mosefund's 2010 Pigstock, where I got to meet Gerry Hayden, the chef who'll put on that dinner along with Claudia Fleming. You can read an interview with them here.

Michael is also doing a dinner at the Culinary Vegetable Institute with Chef James Briscone, another chef I got to meet at Mosefund's 2010 Pigstock. The combination of microgreens, Mangalitsa lard and cured Mangalitsa products should really be something. Here's the menu:

Assorted Mangalitsa Charcuterie with The Chef’s Garden Pickled Vegetables
Heirloom Baby Lettuce Mix with Greaves and Spring Garlic Croutons
Crostini of Shaved Radishes, Whipped Lard, Micro Fines Herbes and Pea Shoots
Mangalitsa “Cassoulet” with Chef’s Garden Beans, Baby Turnips and Swiss Chard

Roasted Mangalitsa Pork with Spring Meadow Herbs and Natural Jus
Cured Ham and Baby Vegetable Gratin with Fresh Farm Eggs

Earth to Table Vegetables
Bacon Braised Spring Greens
Mustard Glazed Carrot Variation
Roasted Heirloom Potatoes with Micro Chives

Chocolate Ganache Cakes with Candied Bacon and Sour Cream Ice Cream
Rhubarb Pie with Lard Crust and Lemon Verbena

Monday, February 8, 2010

Austin Banach & Nudel Restaurant's Tasting Menu

Photo by Austin Banach

I got an email from Austin Banach, a chef who also works at Rubiner's in Great Barrington, MA. Read more about Rubiner's here - it is a neat story.

He not only attended Mosefund's 2010 Pigstock, but he also did a Mangalitsa tasting menu shortly thereafter in Massachusetts, with chef Bjorn Somlo.

Photo by Austin Banach

Here's some of Austin's photos from the event and afterwards - you've got everything from slaughter all the way to fancy plated dishes (#1, #2, #3, #4).

Austin says that in about a month, they'll have a tasting of lardo and guanciale.

When I look at Austin's photos, I'm reminded that Mangalitsa pigs taste so incredible, they attract talented individuals to the task of turning them into delicious food. You see the same pattern with professionals like Austin, Devin Knell, Keith Luce and again with serious amateurs.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

La Provence and Woodberry Kitchen Buy Mangalitsa Pigs

La Provence Restaurant of Lacombe, Louisiana just bought a bunch of purebred Mangalitsa pigs from Wooly Pigs.

Also, Woodberry Kitchen of Baltimore Maryland bought some Mangalitsa pigs (from Mosefund).

The above maps shows the various sites of Mangalitsa production in the USA.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mangalitsa Pork Earth to Table Dinner

Mosefund Farm is working on an event at the Culinary Vegetable Instute in Ohio on March 27th. The menu includes:

Assorted Mangalitsa Charcuterie with The Chef’s Garden Pickled Vegetables
Heirloom Baby Lettuce Mix with Greaves and Spring Garlic Croutons
Crostini of Shaved Radishes, Whipped Lard, Micro Fines Herbes and Pea Shoots
Mangalitsa “Cassoulet” with Chef’s Garden Beans, Baby Turnips and Swiss Chard


Roasted Mangalitsa Pork with Spring Meadow Herbs and Natural Jus
Cured Ham and Baby Vegetable Gratin with Fresh Farm Eggs
Earth to Table Vegetables
Bacon Braised Spring Greens
Mustard Glazed Carrot Variation
Roasted Heirloom Potatoes with Micro Chives


Chocolate Ganache Cakes with Candied Bacon and Sour Cream Ice Cream
Rhubarb Pie with Lard Crust and Lemon Verbena

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pig Slaughter

Dr. Phil Vogelzang sent me some photos he took at Mosefund's event. Here's photos showing the slaughter of a small pig. The pig became dinner that night and provided meat and fat for the next few days.

In the top photo, the pig's brain gets destroyed by a bolt gun.

Brain dead, the pig gets bled out. The human pumps the shoulder to help get all the blood out of the pig.

The pig goes into the bathtub to scald off the hairs.

People seemed squeamish with the first pig. As the day wore on and we killed more and more pigs, people got used to it. Bob del Grosso has photos and videos from the same event.

Mangalitsa Lard

I'm happy to see that chefs are learning that frying stuff in Mangalitsa lard is the way to go. Many have noticed that Mangalitsa lard is fantastic.

In general, lard has a terrible reputation in the USA. It is a low-value byproduct - so there's no economic incentives for producers to do what it takes to make it taste good.

When you take the Wooly Pigs approach and optimize breed, feed, age at slaughter and rendering methods to produce the best lard you can, you get a product that is (of course) completely incomparable with other lard, but is superior to other fats like olive oil, butter, etc.

NJ and Midwest trip

I was away for a few weeks. I'm back now and busy trying to catch up.

I attended Mosefund's 2010 Pigstock. Michael Clampffer put on two very good 3-day events. If you ever need someone to organize an educational pig-slaughter and processing class, Michael is the man, and Mosefund has the sort of farm to make it work.

After NJ, I went to Hermann Missouri while the Wiesners consulted with Swiss Meats staff about how to improve their slaughter and processing so that we get more out of each pig.

Within the first hour of Christoph being in the plant, we identified several things that they can (and will) do to improve the quality of the pork they produce. We were even able to get the manager of the kill floor into the cutting room (where he learned how to cut pigs with seam butchery techniques) so that he now sees why the details of stunning, sticking, bleeding, gambreling, leaf lard removal, cooling and splitting are so important to what happens in the cutting and processing room.

Swiss Meats will be making cured products for Wooly Pigs using the same recipes and methods that the Wiesners use at their home. I think that's fantastic.

Once Swiss gets the process down, they'll be able to kill and process Mangalitsas into products under one roof, which is efficient and should lead to them being experts in Mangalitsa processing - which means we ought to get more out of each pig. Given that meat comes from intelligent living creatures, I think it is important to make the most of them.

I'm hoping that when St. Louis restaurants find out that Swiss has so much expertise, they'll buy non-Mangalitsa pigs from Swiss, cut and processed they way we do our pigs.

After visiting Swiss, I visited one of the farms in the Midwest that produces for Wooly Pigs. While we were there, we decided to slaughter a small pig. I'd seen it done so many times on my trip that I was able to stick the pig and get it to bleed out (without causing pericardium - a first for me). With my help, the farmer's family got the hair off and guts out. We removed the tenderloins and cheeks and ate those immediately. Having watched Christoph break down about 10 pigs in the last two weeks, I was able to break the pig into its major parts easily. We got some roasting immediately and put the rest in the freezer.