Sunday, December 28, 2008

The fat is part of the experience.

Mangalitsa ham - a lot of fat.

There's an article here about people buying European hams.

Although there are some inaccuracies about what the Iberian pigs eat (the bellota pigs don't just eat acorns their whole lives), there's a nice section at the end:
Those who know dry-cured hams best realize that they derive much of their distinctive flavor and mouth feel from the fat that rims and streaks the meat. Retailers, however, often are asked to remove the fat encircling the leg before slicing. Though Cafasso said he has tried to convince customers otherwise, he accommodates such requests by carefully beveling the layer of fat that edges the portion to be cut. Cesare Casella, dean of Italian studies at the International Culinary Center in New York and co-owner of Salumeria Rosi, a Manhattan store and cafe showcasing Italian cured pork products, is not as cooperative. "I'm sorry; I refuse, because it's not the way to eat prosciutto," he said. "It's a question of education. The quality of the prosciutto depends on the fat. The fat is part of the experience."
Of course, they are talking about meat-type breeds. That's what the Italians raise these days, having switched in the 1960s from hogs like the Iberian Blacks to the much leaner Landraces. One can only imagine how difficult it would be to mass-market hams like that pictured above, from Mangalitsa pigs.

This explains why Mangalitsa is great for sausage or salami (and crossbreeding programs). Those same fat-phobes who trim the fat will eat up the salami and sausage. You just need to hide that fat. Our restaurant customers hid the Mangalitsa fat in sausages, ravioli, etc. People love to eat it; it just has to be in the right form.

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