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.

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