Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Little Water Cantina in Eastlake has a neat sandwich: wild boar (from an Oregon game farm) smoked and sauted in Mangalitsa lard. The bread is from Macrina.
They served me some.* It was great - I devoured it. I got some tortillas and a little dipping sauce and cabbage. It was nice to get cabbage instead of lettuce. It reminded me of being in Germany and getting döner kebab.
As mentioned on a Seattle food blog, they've got other stuff fried in Mangalitsa lard, which I've tried before. It really makes stuff tastes great.
I just delivered them a bunch of raw fat. By rendering their own lard, they'll save money, get their lard exactly how they want it and get the greaves. I advised them on how the most quality-sensitive people I know render lard.
In general, Little Water Cantina and Monsoon, both Mangalitsa customers, have the same problem: because they serve ethnic food (Mexican and Vietnamese respectively), people expect their stuff to be cheap and filling. Foodies tend to stay away from such places, even though they'd like the food if they tried it. At the same time, the customers who demand lots of rice (and rock-bottom prices) will leave feeling they didn't get enough food.
* I thought I was going to go to the opening of Eric Banh's new restaurant, so I just asked for a sample. Eric's place didn't open that night. My new rule: if someone offers me free Mangalitsa-based, eat all of it.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Monday, June 27, 2011
Serious Pie (a Tom Douglas restaurant) and Heath Putnam Farms did a class with Slow Food Seattle yesterday. Students started the process of making their lardo pancetta from Mangalitsa pigs. It takes time to make cured products, so they couldn't finish yesterday.
Students got to salt and herb their fatback and bellies. They took the lardo home, because all they have to do is stick it in their fridge to finish it. Serious Pie offered to dry out their bellies in their temperature and humidity-controlled tent, so people will pick that up later when it is done.
I provided a small neck so people could taste Mangalitsa. After I showed the students the raw neck, Kenan Fox, Serious Pie's curemaster cooked it up with a little salt and pepper so that people could eat some.
After making the products, Serious Pie fed people a multi-course lunch. Most courses had some Mangalitsa products. I recall cured neck, lardo and sausage. Most students thought the lardo pizza tasted the best. Hopefully they'll know what to do with their own lardo.
One nice thing the Serious Pie staff did was measure out the salt in advance. People got a few different containers of curing salt and regular salt for the belly and the fatback. That made things easy and stress-free.
Hopefully the word will get out that Serious Pie is serving really great fast food featuring cured Mangalitsa products.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
This is a big deal - John Besh has been into Mangalitsa pigs for a while. Now he's breeding them. These are the first farrowed in Louisiana.
There's 9 piglets. You can see how fat that gilt is. There's no visible muscle to her; she looks like a tick.
The gilt looks ugly. She'll probably bite you too, if a pig squeals.
You can see how small thepigs are, and how they are striped like wild boar.
I've never seen this guy before. He's wearing muck boots, so I'll guess he's their herdsman.
When I see his clothes, I think, it must be very hot there. There's no way I want to wear shorts and a T-shirt in a pig pen. Google says right now it is 89F (32C) with 58% humidity.
The Mangalitsa lard is working out well. They've got a new item - a wild boar sandwich. Before they put the wild boar in the bread, they fry it in Mangalitsa lard.
That little Mangalitsa fat dramatically improves the taste of the final product. Any side-by-side comparison makes that clear.
I explained that Mangalitsa pigs are a lot like wild boar, except ridiculously fat-prone and tame. You can see some of the similarities if you look at videos.
I visited there today, dropping off a lot more bacon.
Chef Shop Store Location & Hours
1425 Elliott Avenue West
Seattle, WA 98119
Monday through Friday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Saturday: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
When it happens, things will get interesting.
Berkshire pork producers are really good at what they do.
Friday, June 17, 2011
That recommendation (along with dire warnings of leaky gut syndrome due to glutins, lectins, zein and other chemicals found in grains) always seemed a little extreme. It doesn't seem so extreme to me now.
I brought some Mangalitsa lardo to the event People ate it right up.
What's interesting is that CrossFitters, many of whom try to eat a paleo diet, don't vacuum up the lardo. In contrast, Weston A Price members, are pretty quick to try and eat the stuff.
There were a lot of Europeans there. Italy, Moldova and Czech Republic were represented. They were all very lardo-friendly.
The Italian said that the lardo in Italy was more greasy. I explained that yes, thanks to me, the USA sometimes produces better lardo than found in Italy.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Wooly Pig was a special menu item (May 13-14) that we lucked into when we arrived at JJ101 for Chesapeake Bay soft shell crabs. This piece of pig had the most intense flavor of anything I have ever had from other pigs, including some of those peanut-fed porkers from Virginia. Ordered medium rare, it arrived with a slightly charred outside, very tender inside, and some of the most delicious meat fat that I have ever encountered. Superb.
Each of these dishes could easily win best-of-show in any competition, Simple ingredients expertly combined into unbelievably good tastebud treats.
Typical response to our Mangalitsa pork: better than anything I've ever had.
One interesting thing about people is that they can read that something is going to be incredible, but until they experience it first hand, they still doubt that it can be so great.
It doesn't matter how much press they read, from however many sources. There's nothing like first-hand experience.
Monday, June 13, 2011
I sold them some breeding stock a while ago.
If you want to buy some pigs, call Gar House at 530-757-2294 or 760-522-7777.
It is funny that just when I was thinking about Imre, the Hungarians call about their Swallow-Bellied Mangalitsa pigs.
I suggested to them that they get licensed by the state to kill and process the pigs. It would be great if Hungarians (and non-Hungarians) could order half or whole Mangalitsa pigs, turned into traditional Hungarian products - by pigs bred, fattened, slaughtered and processed all on the same farm - by them. There's two reasons:
- Killing the pigs on the farm means one can arrange a zero-stress kill.
- When the producer manages things from start to finish, he's got the incentives and ability to optimize everything to meet the needs of his customers. This is why I don't like small slaughter plants. Custom butchers typically suck too; what sort of guy spends his life killing animals, cutting them up, and making products out of them, for ungrateful farmers and other cheapskates? The sort of guy who can't hold a decent job.
Chef Shop has been selling our lard mail order for a long time now. Now you can get bacon, meat, lardo, etc.
I took in a bunch of jowl bacon. If you've been missing the jowl bacon, you can go get it at Chef Shop. If you've never had it, you are in for a treat - because Mangalitsa jowl bacon is the best.
Chef Shop Store Location & Hours
1425 Elliott Avenue West
Seattle, WA 98119
Monday through Friday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Saturday: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Heath Putnam Farms (better known in Seattle as "Wooly Pigs") isn't selling at the U-District Farmers' Market anymore.
If you go in to buy stuff, please tell the Chef Shop staff how happy you are that they are carrying our stuff.
The Chef Shop owners, Tim and Eliza, are very hospitable. If they are in the store when you go, I suggest you visit with them and ask them about your favorite food topics.
I first became acquainted with Chef Shop when one my loyal jowl bacon customers gave me an incredible Christmas present from Chef Shop - a Sorrento Lemon Panettone.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
A friend sent me the above photo of Imre Mandoki, deceased 2003.
He was a good friend. His restaurant, the Hungarian Sausage Factory in San Francisco's Bernal Heights, felt like Central Europe. Whenever I visited the USA from Munich, I'd go to Imre's to reduce the culture shock of returning to the USA. Unsurprisingly, you'd find Hungarians, Slovaks, Czechs, Austrians, Germans and others there eating Central European favorites. Visiting Hungarians were often moved to tears by his attempt at creating Hungarian culture in exile.
Imre unfortunately missed the USA's Mangalitsa revolution. Had he lived to see it, he probably would have played a role in it, given his love of Hungarian culture and strategic Bay Area location.
We got some gorditas - basically, pulled pork, fried in Mangalitsa lard, served on refried black beans (cooked partially in Mangalitsa lard).
The stuff tasted fantastic. Chris, a long-time Mangalitsa customer (nicknamed "The Natural") who cooks at home along the lines of Grant Achatz (molecular gastronomy FTW) said the stuff was so good he'd go back for it. That's a major compliment, considering that he's got a freezer at home filled with various Mangalitsa products, and the skill to make whatever he wants to make.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
They ate my Mangalitsa pork at a dinner in St. Louis, put on by one of my customers, loujack, and oddly enough, the customer is a brother of a Washington state customer:
... tasted the Mangalitza pig when we were in St Louis at the Clandestino dinner last year. The boys there were so passionate about the meat and the special qualities that I was intrigued. The more I have begun to read up on it the more interested I also have become, especially for the charcuterie properties (fat, in a word) that it has.
I'm not going to copy them here becuase I don't have the permission to duplicate them - but really, you should click here and check them out.
It is nice to see them get some press. They've been selling Mangalitsa pigs to Michelin-starred restaurants in California for two years.
Here's my favorite excerpts from the article:
For those craving a world-class version of "the other white meat," it might as well be pronounced "Mmmmmmangalitsa."...
"We purchase Mangalitsa pigs primarily due to their very high fat content," said Devin Knell, chef de cuisine for the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group. "The careful and selective diet these pigs are fed produces a highly unsaturated fat that has the texture and mouth feel of Wagyu. We use these pigs primarily for dry curing and aging. I feel that this form of utilization best showcases the attributes of both the pig and the efforts that Suisun Valley Farm puts into raising them."
Saturday, June 4, 2011
I'm happy to announce that Steve Kerns of International Boar Semen just picked up a bunch of Swallow-Bellied Mangalitsa breeding stock. We sold Steve a bunch of purebreds and crossbreds.
Call 641-939-3411 to order some semen!
Mangalitsa pigs have the best meat quality, and that's partly due to having the best marbling. Their fat also tastes much better than other pigs.
If you've got meat-type pigs and pork, and want it to look more like that loin above, you'll be able to improve things - easily and cheaply.
Selling IBS Swallow-Bellied Mangalitsa genetics means that people who want to improve their meat and fat quality by producing Swallow-Bellied Mangalitsa hybrid litters will be able to do so; they'll buy some semen and inseminate their meat-type sows.
It is a good thing they'll be selling crossbred semen; most people won't want a lot of Swallow-Bellied Mangalitsa genetics in their pigs, because they don't want to be in the business of producing a lot of fat and very little meat.
It is a big deal to sell Steve Kerns these pigs. He's an established dealer of pig genetics. He's buying our pigs because they produce the highest quality of meat and fat.*
Now that Steve Kerns has the pigs, and will soon be collecting and selling semen from them, pretty much anyone that wants to buy Swallow-Bellied Mangalitsa semen will be able to get what they want at a reasonable price.
This does even more to establish the Swallow-Bellied Mangalitsa breed as America's super-premium pig breed.**
Mangalitsa Boars - Necessary?
A lot of people imagine that they can produce purebred Swallow-bellied Mangalitsa pigs by buying some gilts or sows and inseminating them.
It isn't clear to us if this will work or not. Mangalitsa sows don't show heat like regular sows. They don't stand like regular sows. Our breeders don't think they could artificially inseminate Mangalitsa sows with any reliability.
If people buy gilts or sows from me and try to AI them, and fail, they may get too fat to breed, become infertile (due to the pig equivalent of PCOS, which Managalitsa pigs seem to be prone to).
* Of course, they do that by consuming the most feed, and taking the longest time to reach maturity. There has to be a catch, right?
** My epitaph is definitely going to mention that I established the Swallow-Bellied Mangalitsa as America's super-premium pig, in addition to creating the Mangalitsa phenomenon. The whole thing sounds so odd.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
He said that he has a friend who just got back from Italy from a sous vide class. He said that they cooked pretty much everything at 72C for 8 hours. That worked great for belly, jowl and a bunch of other tough cuts.
My only thought about doing Mangalitsa at 72C is that a bunch of fat would melt off. That's why I've done mine around 63C 19 hours.
Here's her description of Erick and what he served:
Representing the Besh Restaurant Group, Erick Loos blew us away with his creativity. He presented a mini four-course meal, showcasing a spectrum of techniques and thorough use of the animal. First up was the Pork Liver Parfait (a cool and savory concoction of liver and blood mousse, whipped lard, house-preserved peaches, and muscadine wine gelée). Admittedly, it was a little disorientating for my taste. Next came the Head to Toe Salad, composed of a terrine of the pig's head, tongue, skin, heart, tail, shanks, and trotters, topped with heirloom tomatoes and sugar cane vinaigrette. For our main, we had Slow Cooked Leg, Shoulder, and Loin served with porcini mushrooms over panisse, a chickpea fritter traditionally from the South of France. The real stunner, however, was dessert. The Porked Alaska, bacon pecan crunch ice cream and amaretto cream melting softly inside a crispy meringue, was my favorite bite of the entire evening.Apparently he's been serving Mangalitsa bacon ice cream for the last few years at La Provence. People love it.
I'm thinking next year if he wants to compete, he might want to work it out with his slaughterhouse so that he could be the guy that stuns, sticks and guts the pig too. Then he'd really do it start-to-finish.
I talked with Erick. He said that they used the one pig and only the one pig (despite them having lots of other Mangalitsa around, they didn't cheat). So, for instance, the bacon ice cream was made with a quick-cured bacon. Also, he said they did a great job utilizing the one pig; when they were all done, they had a few pounds of lard (of course), but that was it.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Lincoln County Cookers Competes in Harrah’s High Steaks BBQ Bash with Our Stuff, Eric Loos wins, Sous Vide
Lincoln County Cookers, a barbecue team, will be competing in the Harrah’s High Steaks BBQ Bash with some of our Mangalitsa.
A team member heard about the success of the Fatback Collective and contacted me to get some product.
It is very exciting that people who want to win choose our Mangalitsa.
This is coming on the heels of the Fatback Collective taking 3rd in Memphis.
Also, Erick Loos of La Provence just won Cochon 555 in New Orleans. He used a pig that we bred (and he fattened on his farm). To my knowledge, that's the first time a chef competed (and won!) with a pig he fattened. I was very happy that he won.
One neat thing about his victory: he cooked all the food in advance, using sous vide technology. At the event, they just had to heat the stuff and serve it - a bit like airport food. Sous vide cooking takes the stress and inconsistency out of the cooking process. Doing things using sous vide technology allowed them to relax and focus on getting the details right.
I am a big fan of sous vide technology - particularly the Sous Vide Supreme.
“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.”