“It was the first time that breed of pig had been served in competition in America,” Jones said. “It's an heirloom pig originally from Austria that's only been in the United States for four or five years.”
Mangalitsa pigs, direct descendants of wild boars, have a hairy fleece and marbled, fatty flesh. It's a superior, fatty pork that is rarely served in restaurants, Jones said.
Once the team chose the pig, they needed to make a decision about sauce — and each team member had their own special sauce recipe, from South Carolina mustard and Memphis sweet to eastern North Carolina vinegar and hot pepper.
“Everyone on the team put together a sauce” Jones said, but in the end, the team decided to forgo the sauce altogether — a first for this cooking competition.
“My granddad said sauce covers up poor cooking,” Jones said. “After hours of cooking pigs with wood, you don't want to hide the taste of the pig with sauce. We decided to serve this pig without sauce, the way the Good Lord intended it to be.”
Jones said he stayed up all night during the competition, helping baste the pig with vinegar.
The judges awarded The Fatback Collective third place in the competition.
“I was a bit disappointed in third place,” Jones said, “but then some of the other teams said they had been participating in the contest for 20 years and had never scratched the top 10.
“I was honored to be a spoke in the wheel,” he added. “We had such a blast doing it as authentically as possible, with no gimmicks.”