Friday, July 22, 2011

Project Mangalitsa - Paleo Diet

Heath Putnam sending Robb Wolf a Mangalitsa care package.

Robb Wolf is the author of the Paleo Solution. I just sent Robb Wolf a variety of Mangalitsa products: ham, lardo, lard, jowl speck and soap.

I'm tired of hearing people talk about how Mangalitsa fat will raise their cholesterol, make them get fat, etc. I can't tell you how frustrating this is; some of the healthiest people I know literally live on animal fat. You try keeping pace with them during a workout and you'll be on the floor gasping for breath.

So sometime in the near future I'll be starting a Mangalitsa-based paleo diet.* My goal will be to show that it is possible to literally live on Mangalitsa fat and be quite healthy.

I figured I might as well send Robb Wolf the food I'll be using to construct the diet.

* pigs are neolithic. So maybe this diet should be called "paleo-inspired".

Rufus Brown - American Ham Hero

Rufus Brown (l) learning from Christoph Wiesner how to eviscerate a Mangalitsa at Mosefund Farm. photo: Rey Knight.

The Mangalitsa hams from Johnston County Hams recently beat out Italian proscutti and Iberico and Mangalica hams from Spain in head-to-head competition. If you live in the USA and want to eat the best-tasting hams, the choice is clear.

I found this out yesterday from Rufus Brown, curemaster at Johnston County Hams.

I had heard (and remarked on) Rufus winning a Sofi award for his hams. I had assumed this was a domestic-only competition. I figured Rufus's only competition would be American. Because he's the only one with Mangalitsa hams, and given how much better Mangalitsa is than other pork, I figured he'd win, in a Bambi Meets Godzilla sort of way.*

It turns out that the Sofi awards includes foreign producers. E.g. Italian prosciutti and Spanish products, including Iberico and Mangalica hams.

Rufus's Mangalitsa hams beat all the Italian prosciutti, the Iberico and Mangalica hams. His hams are the ones that won the award. Theirs didn't win.

Additionally, various guests informed Rufus that they'd tried all the hams in the place and that Rufus's was the best.

More telling: some Spanish guys said they were happy he wouldn't be selling those hams in Spain.

If you are an American who has, in the past, been embarrassed at how American food stacks up relative to the competition, you can feel a little more proud now, thanks to Rufus's efforts.

Rufus is America's ham hero.

* this explains why we were confident about taking more than 3rd place at the world championship of barbecue at Memphis in May.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mangalitsa Pork in Hong Kong

Mangalitsa pork makes this review of a Hong Kong restaurant. It reads like the reviewer loved the stuff. Emphasis (and currency conversion) is by me:
The ‘pig in sheep’s clothing’ ($270 HKD -- $35 USD) is another fun offering. A fatty slab of Mangalitsa pork belly is slow-cooked to show off its wagyu-like qualities. The meat is then garnished with curls of crispy pork crackling and an insanely satisfying lasagne laced with plenty of cheese and tender pork cheeks. This is definitely a keeper.

Waves Pacific has done a great job selling Mangalitsa in Hong Kong, especially considering that it is a terrible time to be selling a super-premium luxury product like Mangalitsa pork.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Various Pork News Items

Raw Bacon

Raw bacon from Herb Eckhouse (La Quercia). Herb is making pancetta (aka Bauchspeck). He's marketing it as "raw bacon". Herb is a very smart guy. I think he's doing this to try to take the product mainstream.

I should mention: Herb buys Mangalitsa from time to time.

Although Herb isn't using Mangalitsa pigs to make this product (yet!), I respect him for trying to sell ready-to-eat bacon to Americans. It has been a long time since shelf-stable bacon was a staple in America. From what I've read, even back then, Americans liked to cook the stuff[1]. So wish Herb luck!

This issue demonstrates how difficult it is to sell new food to people. E.g. jerky is raw meat. Americans buy that. But a bunch will probably never even try "raw bacon". Maybe if he called it "bacon jerky" the people would buy it[2].

I suspect Herb is using pork from Tamworth breed pigs[3] because he wants a breed-specific product that tastes pretty good, without it being too fatty[4]. You can see a wonderful blog post comparing "raw bacon" from Mangalitsa pork and Tamworth pork on this food blog by onevanillabean.

As recently as 1951, a lot of Americans (and Germans) knew what this "raw bacon" was, and considered it a staple. Many chefs and butchers will eat raw bacon; they aren't afraid of getting sick. I've eaten raw bacon - the Mangalitsa bacon from Chef Shop was so good that once I started, I couldn't stop.

So three cheers for raw bacon!

I would suggest that Herb tell people to cut it thin and melt it on flatbread (pizza) or toast. Restaurants that make lardo, pancetta and guanciale from Mangalitsa pigs (e.g. Serious Pie in Seattle and Domenica in New Orleans) do well that way.

I've written a lot about Bauchspeck on this blog. The fact that Herb is trying to sell it is a great thing.

GMO pigs

Researchers have used genetic technology to develop some improved pigs. That's big news. Even if we ban that technology, you can bet the Chinese will adopt it.

China's Porkflation Problem

The Atlantic Monthly has a neat article on China's pig situation. There's record high pork prices causing trouble. Record high corn prices have farmers refusing to jump into pig production. The reasons given in the article make a lot of sense. E.g. "It's not like we can just instantly raise pigs when prices are high, it takes time."


[1] probably because it was filthy and/or adulterated, making it shelf-stable but not ready-to-eat.

[2] This phenomenon shows you how difficult it is to convince people to try new foods. Just as with pigs, you want them to do something that's good for them. Often they respond by wanting no part of it.

[3] The article mentions that the Tamworth is a "bacon-type" breed. To some extent, it still is (despite the breed changing to stay popular), because the modern version of the breed has small hams.

Tamworths efficiently product bacon, just as modern chickens efficiently produce chicken breasts. That doesn't mean that Tamworth pigs produce the best-tasting bacon, just as modern chickens don't produce the best-tasting chicken breasts.

Mangalitsa pigs are most efficient at producing lard, but they do also produce the best meat (and their fat is the best too - the catch is that Mangalitsa costs more than all aternatives).

[4] the fact that Herb won't use Berkshire pork tells me he probably doesn't want Mangalitsa bellies, as they'd only be less lean.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Kid Eating Mangalitsa Tenderloin on 4th of July

This kid got to eat some Mangalitsa tenderloin on the 4th of July.

The picture shows her eating her first bite.

It is neat to think that bringing Mangalitsa pigs to the Western Hemisphere means that some lucky kids will get to have childhood memories of Mangalitsa.

Wooly Pigs is for the children.

Do Mangalitsa Pigs Work for Roasting?

A customer who recently got some breeding stock wrote to ask:

The boss wants to have a pig roast at his house and was wondering if these pigs would work for roasting. We have some 200 to 250 pound barrows and thought I would consult you on this. If you could let me know what you think that would be greatly appreciated.

My reply:

Please tell your boss Mangalitsa pigs definitely work well for roasting.

As this video shows, a rookie barbecue team took 3rd place at Memphis in May in whole hog barbecue with unsauced Mangalitsa pigs:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Pork Chops with Salsa Verde Topped with Unseasoned Lardo

Melissa, the new chef at Monsoon sent me this photo of her pork chops with the message:
Pork chops with salsa verde topped with unseasoned lardo (to be baked in the oven).

Good Luck Eric!

Eric Banh (guy in the middle) just opened Ba Bar in Seattle. His Monsoon regularly serves our coppa. Here's Ba Bar on Twitter, and here's an article about the new restaurant.

We are trying to figure out how we can get him using Mangalitsa pork in Ba Bar.

Orcas Island Pigs

Inn at Ship Bay has some new Mangalitsa-cross pigs. As mentioned before, owner Geddes Martin is really into them.

Geddes is one of the few restauranteurs in the Pacific Northwest that's currently running a farm-to-table restaurant that serves Mangalitsa.*

To get to his place, you have to take a 90-minute ferry from the mainland. That implies an overnight stay - but it is worth it.

* Willows Inn should have stuff from a Mangalitsa they killed a few months ago.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

New York Times on Nitrates in "No-Nitrate" Products

Approximately 3.5 years ago, I wrote on this blog about the fundamental fraud of no-nitrate cured products (post #1, post #2). This was the more substantial post on the topic.

By far the best essay I've seen on the topic it is, "Nitrite-free Where Does the Truth End."

The New York Times has just written about the issue; that's great. Now US foodies will get savvy about it.