- Mangalitsa Market
- Shipping (Pork Products)
- Contact Us
We get more nitrites from our saliva than we consume in products such as hot dogs or bacon.
Behind the James Beard Award and the burgeoning restaurant empire, Linton Hopkins is really just an obsessive pork nerd. The Atlanta-based chef founded the Fellowship of Country Ham Slicers, which celebrates the craft of hand-slicing aged legs of swine, and created a collector’s edition Country Hams of the South placemat (read: treasure map) for the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival. The website for Holeman and Finch, his casual outpost in Atlanta, has a very scientific-looking photo on its homepage that claims ham can cure virtually any malady.
Hopkins’ devotion to swine is borderline religious, so it’s fair to ask: Where would a person like him find spiritual kinship with people who worship pork as much as he does?
The answer is The Salt Cured Pig—a private, invite-only group that can be found on the Facebook super highway somewhere between Bronies Unite Mid-Atlantic and Nuke the Whales.
“You can trust that The Salt Cured Pig is a community of people who actually care about how we procure, practice, and preserve our craft, “ said Hopkins.
I. A Global Network of Swine Fanatics
The Salt Cured Pig was founded in 2010 by Michigan native John Patterson, who has since watched his cultish community of swine enthusiasts grow to more than 8,000 members. An average of 100 new people are invited into the group every week by friends already on the inside.
This is a place where rockstar butchers and unadulterated porknography take precedence over the media’s breathless rediscovery of edible plant life, and Patterson loves it. And why wouldn’t he? America’s most knowledgeable farmers, meat processors, butchers, charcutiers, chefs, and educators have essentially open-sourced their collective wisdom in his forum.
America’s most knowledgeable farmers, meat processors, butchers, charcutiers, chefs, and educators have open-sourced their collective wisdom in the forum. It’s like getting private batting lessons from George Brett, the Kansas City Royals Hall of Famer
“This was a selfish venture in the beginning,” said Patterson. “I bankrupted myself buying cured meats at Zingerman’s one day and decided, if people have been doing this for thousands of years, I should just do it myself.”
The first leg of The Salt Cured Pig journey is all about Patterson’s original vision of setting out on one’s own into the wide world of DIY curing. Certainly that was my experience when I joined shortly after the group’s inception. For the better part of that first year of membership, my 900-square-foot abode in Washington, D.C. was filled with various meat-curing experiments. Pancetta strung up in the kitchen window and pork jowl hanging from an old planter hook in the corner. Every time I had a question or near meltdown, I went to the group.
Answers would come from people like Josh and Jessica Applestone, the forebears of nouveau butchery at Fleisher’s Pasture-Raised Meats, or Kate Hill, an American expat living in Gascony who runs a pork-centric cooking school, Kitchen at Camont, with a family of French master pig farmers and butchers named the Chapolards. It was like getting private batting lessons from George Brett, the Kansas City Royals Hall of Famer who was my childhood hero. I achieved delicious successes and a few spectacular failures (amazingly, my wife still agreed to marry me that year). More than once or twice, I considered training to become a butcher and opening a shop.
“Where else can charcuterie enthusiasts around the world get access to an incredible network like this 24 hours a day?” asked Hill, a group administrator. “When I’m having a morning café au lait in France, someone in Tucson is tending his smoker, a charcutier in Bangkok is talking to a pig farmer in Australia, and a Korean chef is sharing his wares with us all.”
II. Chefs Find Inspiration
A search of the group brings up some culinary star-power, including Craig Deihl, Jonathan Waxman, Nate Anda, Paul Kahan, David Varley, Ryan Farr, Lee Anne Wong, Tom Mylan, and Celina Tio. Peter Kaminsky, whose 2005 book Pig Perfect introduced the world to Chuck Talbott’s pioneering research on heritage pig breeds and flavor, is also a member (as is Talbott). Despite their high-profile status, some still look to The Salt Cured Pig as a place for continuous learning and experimentation.
“What’s really important to me is the way people are open and post photos about failure, which is so important to getting better,” said Deihl, whose charcuterie work at Cypress and Artisan Meat Share in Charleston is second to none in the U.S. right now. “Watching people share non-pork ideas, like salmon belly nduja and shrimp sausage and swordfish bacon, has also made me think about what new things I can do in the restaurants.”
VIPs like Deihl have undoubtedly had an impact in The Salt Cured Pig forum, but the lesser-known professionals represent the group’s real value. These are the workaday evangelists who are carrying forward the movement for responsible pig husbandry and curing.
“I think it is a really valuable resource for anyone in the restaurant business,” said Justin Brunson, owner and executive chef at Old Major, the Denver Bacon Company, and a constellation of other meat-driven establishments in the Mile High City. “I get tips on chili pastes, peppers, and salts for sausage and curing in the group all the time, and the members gave me a ton of help on specs when I built my first curing chamber.”
Brunson is known among pork nerds, and he and others like him are the most active in the group’s conversation strings, offering hard-won wisdom to less-seasoned members and doing their best to keep the group focused on safety, tradition, and quality. Others include Cathy Barrow, the writer behind MrsWheelBarrow.com; Adam Danforth, the James Beard Award-winning author and butcher; Carl Blake, who runs Rustik Rooster Farms in Iowa; Brady Lowe, the founder of Cochon 555; Bob Perry, Chef in Residence at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture; and Bob Del Grosso, a micropaleontologist by training who has taught for decades at the Culinary Institute of America and other institutions.
“Before the advent of groups like this, the likelihood that someone like Carl Blake would be sharing hog-farming tips with people in Michigan and Austria was almost nil,” said Del Grosso. “During my tenure as a Salt Cured Pig administrator I’ve seen countless examples of people who, inspired by something they read there, pick up knives and saws to butcher their food, pick up stakes and move to farms. That is significant.”
“I look at the group every day to see what people are doing,” said Brandon Johns, chef-owner of Grange Kitchen & Bar, an Ann Arbor restaurant that counts other members among its regular patrons. “It’s great to see them using old-school technique, like hand-cutting sausage, that you can’t find anywhere anymore, and I’m always getting inspiration to try new things.”
There’s the issue of the pesky vegetarians who have regularly infiltrated the group, calling ironically for Patterson’s slaughter.
With all the collective wisdom and shared support, is the forum having a wider impact? Anecdotally, those of us who have been in the group since early on have seen growth in the number of heritage-pig farms, professional curing operations, and restaurants doing in-house charcuterie. According to a three-year study by the Livestock Conservancy, an organization that works on genetic conservation and promotion of heritage-breed animals, the numbers of heritage-breed pigs overall have been growing in recent years. Just a couple days ago, member Stephen Prochaska announced the opening of his new Cedar Rapids, Iowa sausage shop, The Sausage Foundry, and thanked the group for insights and input.
“A goal in the beginning was to make sure that these things wouldn’t just be fads,” said Patterson. “I hope we are helping secure a better future for meat in America.”
III. The Swine Schism, Militant Vegetarians, and the Power of Community
That remains to be seen, but we wouldn’t even be having this conversation without the committed core constituency in The Salt Cured Pig. Whether the center can hold is another question, because Patterson’s ride hasn’t all been pillowy white fatback and silky sausage gravy. The group has, at times, been greased by drama.
Firstly, there’s the issue of the pesky vegetarians who have infiltrated the group regularly, calling (ironically) for Patterson’s slaughter and, on more than one occasion, getting him thrown off of Facebook (he maintains aliases including Bobby Berkshire, named after the famous breed of curing hogs). One woman was so aggressive that Patterson did a little research and cornered her with Google Maps evidence of a charcoal grill in her backyard. She backed off and the veg hackers have been quiet recently.
Patterson’s ride hasn’t all been pillowy white fatback and silky sausage gravy. The group, like so many young phenomena, has at times been greased by drama.
Then there was the infamous swine schism. In the early days, when The Salt Cured Pig was small, most of the members were in it to share advanced practices, but things changed as the numbers roared upwards. Some griped that bacon became too dominant a theme (is that possible?) and the comment strings got too heated and meme-heavy. The full administrative team tried to exert some quality control, but the divide had already calcified. A breakaway faction of accomplished home charcutiers, led by bloggers Scott Stegen and Jason Molinari, peeled off and formed Sausage Debauchery, a rival group with a less freewheeling and more pedantic bent. To date, Sausage Debauchery has more than 5,400 members.
“I think the two communities are alternate sides of the same coin: The Salt Cured Pig is great for people just getting into the curing and overcoming their fear, and Sausage Debauchery is like a watering hole for what I call the ‘meat mafia,’ those of us who live the craft every day,” said Hank Shaw, the James Beard Award-winning blogger and author of Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast and Duck, Duck, Goose.
Many people hold dual membership and foster friendships in both groups, and the kinship shows through more than any split—as the story of Paolo Sossai makes clear. Sossai, who died from cancer last month, may have been the pioneering digital community organizer for home charcutiers as the head of the Salumi Casalinghi Forum, an Italian listserv where he shared old-world techniques and facilitated discussion on the craft. He was a mentor to many in both The Salt Cured Pig and Sausage Debauchery, dropping in and out of discussions in both groups to offer patient, broken-English–infused explanations of things like the definition of porchetta di testa, and the regional difference between sopressa and sopressata. His death brought forth an outpouring of sympathy.
“Paolo’s legacy is the real sense of community in terms of passion for craft, willingness to help and a wonderful intolerance of showiness or lack of humility,” said John Gower, a member of both The Salt Cured Pig and Sausage Debauchery, who raises pigs on a sustainable farm in North Devon, England. “In life and death, he has only encouraged this sense all the more amongst many of us.”
Sossai, like Patterson, Stegen, and many others, was the bond that held the communities together and pushed them forward towards a vision of better, more sustainable farms and food. Which reminds me: I have a big batch of heritage pork shoulder in the freezer that needs my attention.
Read the original post: http://firstwefeast.com/eat/the-pork-obsessives/Craig Deihl, John Patterson, Paolo Sossai, Rick McKee, The Salt Cured Pig
News Alert: We now have a fresh supply of Winfield Mangalitsa pork cuts in our Mangalitsa Market
Now on hand: sliced hickory-smoked bacon, bone-in chops, ground pork (sweet Italian); bone-in hickory smoked hams, bone-in loin roast, Boston butt roast, smoked hocks.
Visit our Mangalitsa Market online, but please call first to ensure availability. Supplies are going quickly!
Good grief! Where does time go?
Fall is in the air, even though the days were still uncommonly warm heading into Thanksgiving week. Bruce has been a busy man this summer, “pig-herding” our Mangalitsas, whose population doubled this spring when eight sows farrowed a total of 60 piglets. The “gang of 60” is now 5-6 months old, and a very rowdy bunch indeed, but it’s hilarious to watch them cavort (you can see the circus on video on the Winfield Farm Facebook page*. Check out the link: https://winfieldfarm.us/store/?p=1381).
Pigs cannot be herded, by the way. We discovered this after the group of “30”, farrowed last summer and ready for market, broke through the fence separating them from Bruce’s garden, where more than 100 grafted heirloom tomato plants were nearly ready to harvest, along with the rest of the produce we’d grown to stock our farm stand this summer. Porcine glee was evident – and not to be dissuaded – as the marauders systematically demolished everything in what seemed record time: 15 minutes was all it took to undo several months of hard labor. Asi es la vida…
(Lesson learned: Bruce will erect a double fence between garden and piggies next year!)
On a positive note, Winfield Farm Mangas have attracted attention from a growing number of world-class chefs. In the Santa Ynez Valley, Industrial Eats in Buellton is a steady customer, as is Full of Life Flatbread in Los Alamos. The Ballard Inn now also features Winfield Farm Mangalitsa pork, and Hitching Post II is a fan, too. In fact, chef/owner Frank Ostini took Winfield Mangalitsa chops to the Celebration of Harvest Festival in October and did a cooking demo. According to reviews: it was fabulous.
Frank also extolled Winfield Mangalitsa pork in a “Pairing Wine with Fire” feature article in the Santa Barbara Independent:
Which meat with chardonnay?
Ostini: I’m pining for a Winfield Farm Mangalitsa pork chop, grown by Santa Ynez Valley rancher Bruce Steele, who is my neighbor. It is for sure the greatest “other white meat.” The white part of this is the fat that is so flavorful, rich, and glorious when grilled and cuts through the acidity of the [Hitching Post] Sta. Rita Hills chardonnay, making it a perfect match….
Mattei’s Tavern in Los Olivos also will begin featuring Winfield Mangalitsa pork soon. We delivered our first pig on November 20, and charcuterie chef Drew Tarp is excited to create new head-to-hoof delicacies.
One outstanding feature of Mangalitsa is its pure white, mouth-watering fat. A rare heritage lard hog, prime Mangalitsa pork may contain as much as 50 percent fat – but it’s very high in oleic acid–the good fat!
Brian Polcyn, well-known chef/author of the book Charcuterie, gave us a lesson in Mangalitsa fat vs. other pigs at the Mangalitsa Breeders Conference in Michigan this past summer. Bruce and I actually escaped for a “vacation” — while son Eric came down from the Bay Area to mind our pigs. (*He created the video of a typical day in the life — feeding the rowdies, making wallows etc. – and filmed it double-time for effect!)
As part of the breeders conference, we toured the meat department at Michigan State University, an impressive facility, where Polcyn illustrated the difference between Manga and a typical market pig — at least double the fat cap, which is what makes Mangalitsa flavor so sublime. Fat is also responsible for making Mangalitsa perfect for charcuterie — ranked with Spanish Iberico Bellota as the best prosciutto in the world!
Brian Polcyn illustrates why chefs pay more for Mangalitsa pork: taste and quality.
“Fat is flavor. Fat is our friend. We love fat!”
The Mangalitsa Breeders Conference was a great getaway for both of us. Much of the activity took place at Wilhelm Kohl and partner Marc Santucci’s “Pure Mangalitsa” farm in Haslett MI, where they are importing new blood lines for blond and red Mangalitsas from Hungary via quarantine in the Netherlands.
After the instructional class session at MSU’s meat lab, the conference transformed into a 2-day party – a Mangalitsa feast, where Mangalitsa breeders from all over the country networked, shared their home-made charcuterie and cooked up a stew of – Mangalitsa.
Another highlight of our adventure: we met Peter Toth, president of the Hungarian Mangalitsa Breeders Association, who is widely acclaimed as the person who saved Mangalitsa pigs from extinction.
Now that the dog days of summer are waning, Bruce is scrambling to prepare for the monster El Niño that is predicted to strike this winter. Early forecasts project this as at least as tumultuous as the 1997 event, and perhaps a record-breaker (cautionary news for those of us who live in the 100-year flood plain of the Santa Ynez River…)
Bruce built an “ark”, a huge covered structure about 26 feet wide and 80 feet long, incorporating our farrowing sheds, to provide shelter on both sides of two pig pastures.
In addition, the gang of 60 will have access to our 70 x 30 hoop house and the old gray chicken coop that Bruce remodeled to shelter pigs.
We also leased several acres near by on Drum Canyon Road, on high ground, just in case our fields go underwater here… and that requires more fence building.
Bruce is also working to establish cover on our fields before the rains come, to retain the topsoil. Thankfully the grass he seeded last spring is regenerating nicely after rotating pigs off pasture — well enough to let our market-ready pigs back on it for a little foraging fun before they go to market.
Winfield Mangalitsas have a good life — and a naturally good diet based on pasture, squash, acorns in season and barley (to keep white fat white and pure). Winfield pigs eat NO GMOs…
One more thing that we’re proud to say: We invested in solar last year, so we’re now running our entire farm, including 2 wells, the house and barn, 3 freezers – everything – on alternative energy this year.
We have a new supply of Mangalitsa pork on hand in time for the holidays. Please viist our Mangalitsa Market and email or call to order. Taste the magic for yourself!
We wish you a very Happy Holiday season.
All our best,
Bruce & Diane
We’re delighted that Winfield Farm Mangalitsa will be featured at La Maialata VIII at the acclaimed Cantinetta Luca in Carmel.
La Maialata VIII
Thursday & Friday, December 10 & 11, 2015
5 – 9:30 pm
Executive Chef / Partner Jason Balestrieri presents two evenings where every dish on the menu features yet another amazing variation on the succulent hog to include multiple selections of antipasti, soups, sides, pizzas, first courses, and main courses.
This year will feature Mangalitsa Pig from Winfield Farm in Buellton, CA & Berkshire Pig from Linda’s in Carmel Valley.
Make your reservations now for these very special evenings.
Dolores Street between Ocean and Seventh
St John’s Fergus Henderson. King of nose to tail eating. Photograph: Suki Dhanda for the Observer
Boning a pig’s head isn’t easy. My friend, the food historian Dr Annie Gray, tried it once. It took her and a friend five hours. She was following the 1846 instructions of Charles Elmé Francatelli, once chef to Queen Victoria, who was an old hand at the whole pig boning business. The key is to get a head severed at the second vertebrae, so that when you have tunnel-boned the skull, working the blade carefully about the jaw and skull, and then refilled it with the forcemeat, you have a flap of skin to be re-stitched at the back.
Before you can do that, you have to take the pig’s head, the eyes stitched closed, and smear it with six pounds of salt, handfuls of saltpetre, sugar, cloves, mace, garlic, thyme, marjoram and basil. It then needs to be submerged in a quart of port for two weeks and turned every day.
Next you stuff it with sausagemeat, and a mixture of tongue, fatty bacon, truffles and pistachio kernels. It now needs to be wrapped in butter-rubbed muslin and simmered in a stock full of cow’s feet and grouse carcasses for five hours, before being allowed to cool. Finally, decorate it with piped lard and separately baked pastry pieces. Queen Victoria had a head like this on her table at Christmas every year. Apparently the upper classes have long appreciated the ceremony that attends the boning of pig heads.
Preparing a pig’s head this way is tricky, of course, because you’re trying to keep it in one piece. If that’s not an issue you can cut off the pieces you want: the cheeks ears and snout. Pig cheeks braise beautifully. The ears have many uses. Fuchsia Dunlop has a great recipe in her Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook for an aromatic salad, which is all about chilli oil and sesame oil, and the thin slices of gelatinous skin sandwiching a crunch of cartilage.
Alternatively, April Bloomfield does a crispy pig’s ear salad, in which they become the biggest curve of pork scratching imaginable. The Pitt Cue boys recommend boiling them for a couple of hours and refrigerating overnight, before cutting into strips, deep frying them and serving with a habanero sauce. At Duck & Waffle, they dust crispy strips of ear with a sweet salty mix. They taste like Frazzles.
If this doesn’t appeal, you can always boil a head until the flesh falls away. Next, remove all the meat. There are now two ways to go. Spice it up the old English way with lots of mace and white pepper, and press it to make a classic brawn. Or (again, pace Pitt Cue) form it into a sausage bound in clingfilm. Once refrigerated and set, cut it into discs, bread crumb and deep fry to make pig’s head croquettes.
Alternatively, take the whole thing and, as they do at St John, slow roast it for hours until the meat falls from the bones, and the skin shatters beneath your teeth like savoury glass. Think of this as a self-boning pig’s head, which is a neat trick if you can pull it off. Of course, there may be other ways to go about boning a pig’s head.
Originally posted: http://www.theguardian.com/pig's head, St John
Video: Eric Pleschner
Food Republic’s column Ask Your Butcher seeks to answer FAQs in the world of butchery. Ethically minded butcher Bryan Mayer founded Philadelphia’s Kensington Quarters and helped develop a renowned butcher-training program at Brooklyn’s Fleisher’s. Today, he consults with farmers, chefs, butchers and anyone else who will listen. In each column, Mayer tackles a pressing issue facing both meat buyers and home cooks. Here, he explores three things that you probably aren’t cooking with now, but you should.
Peer over the counter at your local whole-animal butcher shop and you’re more than likely going to see a whole lot of bones, fat and — depending on the animal — skin. And while our more industrially focused brethren don’t have to take much of this into consideration (being that you can order up just about anything skinless, boneless, and pretty much denuded of any and all fat), we who preach whole-carcass utilization take this as a challenge!
Our detractors would say that the industrial model is nothing if not efficient when it comes to utilizing the whole carcass. And that’s somewhat true, if you exclude certain parts that are routinely discarded due to their lack of economic viability. While I’ve read more than my fair share of blog posts pointing out that we, the so-called whole-animal butchers who claim to use everything but the oink, often fall short of these claims, it does bear mentioning that we are severely limited in what we actually receive from our slaughterhouses.
The limitations of these by-products, both edible and inedible, are not totally based on legality, but rather on a significant revenue stream for slaughterhouses. And rightfully so. Up until very recently, very few people in the U.S. were looking to prepare a traditional Burns Supper, which, among other things, calls for stomach and lung, the latter being a by-product that is illegal in the U.S. But what of all those bones going into that bone broth, or, as I like to call it, stock? It’s as if they magically appeared, to cure all your ailments, from gut issues to hair loss to nonexistent love life.
In fact, the list of uses for animal by-products — again, both inedible and edible — is endless. Here’s a sample, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture:
Adhesives, ceramics, cosmetics, feed use, fertilizer, foam in fire extinguishers, insecticides, buttons and handles, capsules for medications, emulsions, gelatins, glues, hardening steel, candies, dairy products, ointments, paper, photographic films, refining sugar, textiles, candies, chewing gum, germicides, industrial oils, lubricants, soap, glycerin, shortenings, tires, athletic equipment, brushes, felt, insulation, rugs, upholstery.
I’m hoping now you can see why these things are hard to come by, and more importantly, why they have such value. To put it all into context for you, by-products account for roughly 30 percent of the live weight (weight before slaughter and evisceration) of hogs and roughly 44 percent of the live weight of cattle. To devalue these items would ultimately mean devaluing the work of our farmers. We don’t want to do that.
With the proliferation of whole-animal butcher shops, we are starting to see an increased interest in using more by-products, specifically bones, fat and skin. So here are a few cooking ideas:
Auguste Escoffier once said, “Indeed, stock is everything in cooking. Without it, nothing can be done.” And since my grandma used it as a cure-all, I’m not one to disagree. Stocks contain minerals in a form that the body can absorb easily — not just trace minerals, but sulfur, magnesium and calcium. Add to that the stuff in cartilage, like chondroitin and glucosamine, and you’re liable to put GNC out of business. And while it’s easy to poke fun of your local dispensary, pouring cups of $9 broth from stainless steel urns, there clearly is some merit to this craze — certainly more so than kale!
Feel free to use any types of bones you’d like: neck, knuckle (the ends of long bones) and marrow all work great. Go ahead and experiment. Step outside the comfort zones of beef and chicken! Try lamb, goat and pork, and add any spices you wish. After all, it’s about what tastes good to you. For my simple beef stock, I add a bit of salt, ginger, clove and turmeric. You can simply simmer bones and water, or go ahead and make a full-on stock by adding your standard mirepoix. Or, in my case, suppengruen, to honor my German side.
Basic Beef Stock
Roughly 4 pounds of neck, knuckle, and/or marrow bones
4 quarts water (or enough to cover bones)
3 each celery, carrots and onions, if desired
- The basic rule here is that it should be easy, or you won’t do it. So if you want to roast your bones, go for it. It’ll result in a darker, richer-tasting stock, but it’s not necessary.
- If you want to add things like onion, celery, carrots, vinegar and whatever other spices, go for it. Just add enough water to cover your bones while leaving some room at the top for expansion.
- You’ll want to bring to a boil and then simmer for as long as you can; 12 hours is preferable, but if you’ve only got four, then so be it. Some people like to skim the fat off the top; I don’t. But if you’ve got the time, go for it. That’s all there is to it.
- Let it cool and refrigerate up to four days or freeze. Season however you’d like.
It’s one of largest organs, if not the largest. You could say it’s one of the most important. It keeps the body safe from the extremes of temperatures, sunlight and chemicals. And if you’re a hog or a chicken, it also happens to be delicious. Roast a whole chicken in my house and someone’s picking off the crispy skin. Braise a picnic ham for pernil and that crispy skin is a great counterbalance to the tender meat. Skin alone, especially from pigs, has many uses. Aside from all the inedible examples mentioned above, it’s great to add skin to stocks. All that gelatin that it contains is a great thickener. It can make great noodles, and, of course, there’s the ol’ standby, chicharrónes.
Preparing pig skin for noodles is a bit of a process and removes something very dear to me and hopefully to you: pork fat. What you’re left with is something reminiscent of pasta, but with an obvious porkiness that is an excellent addition to any ramen. You’ll want to denude the skin of any fat and hair, add some salt and allow it to cure for a couple of hours. You can prepare a marinade, which is something that will help break down the skin over a 24-hour period. Once that’s done, you’ll want to cook for a couple more hours, cool for another 12 and you’re ready to add to your ramen. Yeah, that’s a lot of work.
Let’s stick to a chicharrón. I like my chicharrónes the way my mother-in-law does them: not the puffed, airy kind, but something with a bit more substance — some meat and some fat. The seasoning isn’t necessarily the important part here, but the process is, as you’ll want to follow it closely in order to get a crispy, crunchy chicharrón.
You’re still going to have to put in some time with this one, but you can make a few batches to sit up on your shelf (it’s right next to the granola on mine). I like to use pork belly for this as it has the best ratios of skin, meat and fat. I’ll use a little baking soda with my salt, as I cure the belly overnight. This will help with dehydration, which is important in order to achieve that crunchy skin. After your 24-hour cure, you’re ready to cook. Grab a large skillet and add some water for the wet-rendering method. This is much more forgiving than the dry method and the water will also help to braise the bit of meat and slowly render the fat over 3 to 4 hours. You’ll know when all the water has evaporated and you’re left with just rendered fat when you cease to see any bubbles rising. You’re all set to crank the heat to high and fry away, which should take about three to five minutes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to cool a bit and then add some vinegar, preferably some Sukang Maanghang.
Chicharrón Baboy (Filipino Pork Rind Cracklings)
1 pound pork belly
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Water to cover
- Rub the surface of the skin with the baking soda and salt, making sure to distribute evenly. Place on a dish and into your fridge for 12 hours.
- Rinse off the belly, pat dry and cut into one-inch cubes. Place into your deep-sided skillet and cover with water.
- Using low heat, slowly render and braise for 3-4 hours. Remember to turn the pieces of belly every so often to evenly cook. Once the bubbles stop rising, your water has evaporated and you’ve got rendered fat.
- Turn the heat up to high and watch as they fry in their own rendered fat. This should take no more than five minutes. Transfer to a paper towel, add some vinegar and perhaps some salt and pepper to taste!
Since we briefly mentioned fat above, why don’t we really talk about it for a moment here? Fat has been vilified for far too long. Whether it was Sinclair’s fictional account of the horrors of rendering plants, Procter and Gamble’s marketing campaign for Crisco and the newly invented process of hydrogenation in the early 20th century, or scientists in the 1950s all but singling out animal fat as the cause of heart disease, it seemed we had good reason to avoid animal fats at any cost.
Well, that cost is our health. Fats from animals — consumed in moderation, of course — provide a concentrated source of energy in our diet, a source that cannot be supplemented. They are the building blocks for cell membranes and hormones. As if that weren’t enough, they are also the carriers for the extremely important, fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Fat doesn’t only taste good — it is now recognized as the sixth taste — but it does good for you! And not just animal fats. We’re talking oils: extra-virgin olive oil, unrefined flaxseed oil, and coconut oil, for example. Keep on using all that butter, which is hopefully from grass-fed, fully pastured cows!
Good oils and butter are fairly easy to come by these days. As for rendered animal fat, that’s a bit tricky. Your whole-animal butcher shop should have some already rendered for you. If not, you can always purchase a hunk of fat from them and render it yourself. Pork fat is the best, as it’s the most neutral of fats, but feel free to use beef, chicken or whatever you’d like. You’ll need a skillet, some water and a little bit of time — that’s all. You’ll want to cube the fat or, if possible, coarsely grind it to speed the process up a bit. I like the wet-rendering method, as you’re less likely to scorch the fat. While scorching won’t necessarily ruin the fat, it will definitely bring out the flavors a bit more in your lard, which is something that you may not want in a flaky pie crust. A low flame, and once the bubbles stop rising, you’ve got pure fat ready to fry potatoes or make some chicharrónes.
This can be as easy as removing some of the visceral fat from the chicken you’re about to roast or going to your local whole-animal butcher to order some pasture-raised animal fats.
- Choose an animal fat — beef, pork or chicken. Dice, or coarsely ground, for beef and pork to speed the process.
- Set your flame to low in a deep-sided skillet or pot, and allow the fat to slowly melt. Again, your fat is fully rendered and all the water has evaporated when bubbles stop rising.
- All that’s left to do is strain out any impurities and you’ve got plenty of healthy animal fats to last for at least a few days. There are lots of opinions on how to store rendered fat. I’ll let you pick the method that you feel safest with. For me it’s about three months in the fridge and up to a year in my freezer.
Read the original post: http://www.foodrepublic.com/
Crispy pork trotters with Mission figs at Flour + Water, ca. July 2009.
Some of the most welcome offal to come out of the trend of head-to-tail cuisine are pork trotters, a.k.a. pigs’ feet, and we’re now seeing more of this humble pork product pop up on respectable menus in New York, L.A. and San Francisco. More often than not, the meat is braised, deboned, and formed into a crab cake-like portion, browned on both sides, and served with any number of sauces likely to win over even picky eaters — as they were last spring on the menu at the critically adored Frances, with a sauce gribiche. Semi-rustic preparations of trotters have made appearances in New York over the last few years at places like Craft and Baba, and last winter Northern Spy did a trotter cake with mustard greens — a play on collard greens and ham hocks — that caught the attention of the Times and became the lede for their review. (“Slice into it and the pork spills out, outrageously tender. There is nothing to tip off the squeamish that we’ve entered hoof territory.”)
But how did pigs’ feet — which many of us probably associate with the pale, puckered, and all-too-anatomically-intact versions we saw pickled in jars in the ethnic foods section of grocery stores as kids — become the stuff of haute cuisine?
San Francisco food writer Marcia Gagliardi (The Tablehopper) points back to the first wave of chefs embracing offal here in the last few years. “It started with the whole-animal guys — like Nate Appleman when he was at A16, Chris Cosentino at Incanto, and Mark Denham when he was at Laiola,” she says. “What you’re seeing now in S.F. is a second wave of restaurants doing rustic European dishes (Flour + Water, Frances, Contigo), and diners perhaps being a bit more adventurous.”
Below, a rough timeline of the trotters’ recent rise to prominence:
1999: Thomas Keller features Pig’s Feet with French Green Lentils in The French Laundry Cookbook.
2001: Tom Colicchio opens Craft in New York, later begins featuring pork trotters among his mix-and-match menu offerings.
2002: Chris Cosentino comes on board as executive chef at Incanto, bringing with him a passion for head-to-tail cooking, and using trotters in his pork ragu. Later launches the website OffalGood.com.
2004: The Bouchon Cookbook features pieds de cochon with a sauce gribiche.
2007-2008: Trotters make their appearance on Nate Appleman’s menus at A16 and SPQR in San Francisco. He later wins the James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef, as well as a Food & Wine Best New Chef nod. They continue to make appearances on both menus under new chefs Liza Shaw and Matt Accarrino, in ragus, terrinas, and Shaw’s pork trotter zampone, which are deboned foreshanks stuffed with either sausage or a meatball mixture, then braised and finished off in a wood-fired oven.
June 2008: Animal opens in Los Angeles, and chefs Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook garner loads of attention for their bold use of offal, and they frequently work trotters into their menu.
June 2009: Bouchon opens in Beverly Hills, features trotters.
July 2009: Flour + Water opens to loads of press early in the year, and that summer begins featuring trotters breaded and fried and served with Mission figs and mustard greens.
February 2010: The Times writes up Northern Spy and their trotter dish.
Spring 2010: Trotters appear on the menu at Frances, braised and seared in cakes, served with a sauce gribiche and pickled vegetables. Frances is nominated for a Beard Award for Best New Restaurant.
April 2010: Saveur spotlights the very rustic crispy pata (fried pigs’ feet) at Patio Filipino in San Bruno.
June 2010: Prospect opens in San Francisco, from the team behind the uber-successful Boulevard, featuring a dish that combines pork trotters with lobster. Critic Jonathan Kauffman later calls out the dish as a point where chef Ravi Kapur “hits a sweet spot” of edginess.
Original post: http://sanfrancisco.grubstreet.commenu item, pig's feet, pork trotters
Thanks for getting this far. A headline like “Consider lard” will cause many readers to click away in horror, feeling arteries fur, strokes striking, the tempting of fat and fate at the sight of this four letter word. Lard ranks among the most reviled foods in the western world. As Roy Hattersley came to know its very name is a playground metonym for fat. Once, it was the great cooking fat of Europe, from Shetland to Gibraltar and east beyond the Caucasus, in China, Mexico, in South America.
In Ukraine they have a festival devoted to it. Polish immigrants caused a UK shortage in 2004. If your ancestors came from these islands they likely opened their lard-ers and ate bread, lard and salt for countless breakfasts. And not many of them died of obesity. For thousands of years there has been lard wherever there were pigs, and there were pigs, broadly speaking, wherever there weren’t Muslims.
It’s a supremely versatile fat. Because it smokes so little when it’s hot it’s perfect for bringing a golden shatter to a chip or a fritter – only dripping, lard’s bovine equivalent, does a better job. (A specific kind of lard is also called dripping, but let’s not muddle things.) Its large crystals of fat make lard unsurpassable in baking: a pastry crust made with lard – or half-lard, half-butter, as Delia recommends – offers a stunning flaky shortness, that gently encompassing roundedness that wine buffs horribly call mouthfeel.
Before the second world war Britons ate lard without guilt or fear. Its disappearance from our kitchens parallels a surge in the national waistline and an upswing in the cosseted maladies of fat. It’s worth remembering that the very people who so trumpeted the benefits of factory margarine – which we now know caused considerably more harm than good – were the same who lambasted lard and denied its natural glories.
By any estimation, lard is a healthier fat than butter. Gram for gram, it contains 20% less saturated fat, and it’s higher in the monounsaturated fats which seem to lower LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind) and raise HDL (the “good”). It’s one of nature’s best sources of vitamin D. Unlike shortening it contains no trans fats, probably the most dangerous fats of all. Of course it has more saturated fat than olive oil, but in her splendid book Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, Jennifer McLagan points out that even its saturated fat is believed to have a neutral effect on blood cholesterol. And would you want a pie crust made with extra virgin?
Leaf lard, the highest-quality, surrounds a pig’s loin and kidneys. (Roast pork loin, incidentally, gives the best crackling.) Next in value are the fat on the animal’s back, appropriately called fatback, and the the soft fat from around the internal organs, which has a more pronounced porky flavour. There are two main methods to make or “render” lard: wet and dry. In wet rendering you boil the fat in water. To dry render you simply melt it in a dry pan and skim off any crunchy bits of meat and skin. (Salted, these become the world’s best scratchings.) Wet-rendered lard has a clean, neutral flavour and a high smoke point, while dry-rendered is a nut-brown colour, smokes at a lower heat and tastes faintly of well-roasted pork. The industrial lard of the supermarkets may well have been bleached, deodorised, emulsified and otherwise fiddled with, but homemade or small-scale lard is likely to be be excellent. A kindly butcher might well give you a load of hard pig fat for free to take home and render (unto) yourself.
The best thing about lardy cake is its counterintuitive lightness – the fat brings the dough a refreshing, silky fluffiness. The cake originates in Wiltshire, which was always Britain’s best pig county. In central Europe they cut fatback into cubes and salt it for stews. The Italians cure lardo with rosemary and spices in the coffin-shaped basins of the Carrara marble mines. This lardo di Colonnata is a sublime antipasto, wrapped round prunes or figs, melted over grilled bread, or served with salt and honey. A melting smear of cured, flavoured lard is a wonder over a steak, and a lot of Mexican cuisine (don’t laugh) is unthinkable without lard.
Assaulted by food company propaganda and disillusioned by decades of conflicting advice, many people are returning to diets unsullied by fads and dogma. That lard is both “healthier” than butter and yet so despised shows the empty logic of the standard position. The fat amply qualifies as “real food”, that definition popularised by Michael Pollan as “the sort of food our great grandmothers would recognise as food”. Indeed, its history and heritage make it seem more valuable than ever when you consider what the lard hath given.
Read the original post: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2011/feb/15/consider-lardLard
The next time you slice into a juicy pork chop or chow down on some sausage, see whether you can pick up the taste of wild boar. Farmers may have domesticated pigs 9000 years ago, but genome studies now show that in those early centuries, trysts with wild animals were quite common, particularly in Europe. In fact, they were so common that genes from the founding stock have all but disappeared. The new work not only sheds light on where pigs come from, but it also speaks to how complex the process of domestication is compared with what we thought it was.
The results “challenge the assumptions of 100 years of research,” says Fiona Marshall, an anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis in Missouri, who was not involved with the work.
In the 19th century, evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin pointed out that breeding led to striking differences between farm animals and plants and their wild counterparts, an observation that helped lay the foundation for his theory of evolution. Based on that thinking, researchers imagined that about 9000 years ago, humans corralled a few wild boars and—by separating them from their fellows and breeding them for favorable traits like tameness, size, and meatiness—they developed the domesticated oinkers that we see all over the world today.
But the story is not quite that simple. For one, archaeological evidence now indicates that pigs were domesticated at least twice, once in China’s Mekong valley and once in Anatolia, the region in modern-day Turkey between the Black, Mediterranean, and Aegean seas. For another, a 2007 study of genetic material from 323 modern and 221 ancient pigs from western Eurasia suggests that pigs first came to Europe from the Near East, but that Europeans subsequently domesticated local wild boar, which seemed to replace those original pigs.
Eager to get the record straight, Laurent Frantz, now a bioinformaticist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, carried out sophisticated computer analyses of 103 whole genomes sequenced from wild boars and domesticated pig breeds from all over Europe and Asia. His adviser at the time, animal genomicist Martien Groenen of Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands, had sequenced these genomes and had gathered additional, albeit less complete, genetic data from 600 other wild and domesticated pigs as part of another study.
Domesticated animals have a large number of wild ancestors, Frantz, Groenen, and their colleagues report online today in Nature Genetics. Their data support the idea that pigs originated in two places. But Europe’s modern pigs are mongrel mixes derived from multiple wild boar populations. Some of their genetic material does not match any wild boar DNA collected by the researchers, so they think that at least some ancestors came from either an extinct group or from another group in central Eurasia. This anomaly suggests that pigs were herded from place to place, where they mated with this “ghost” population. Moreover, at one point—most likely in the 1800s, when Europeans imported Chinese pigs to improve their commercial breeds—a little Asian pig blood entered the mix.
The effort is quite impressive, says Carles Vila, an evolutionary biologist at the Spanish National Research Council’s Doñana Biological Station in Seville, Spain. “[It] uses this large amount of data to evaluate competing hypotheses and obtains very clear results.”
Those results are “part of the emerging story about long-term gene flow between domesticated and wild animals,” explains Greger Larson, a co-author and evolutionary biologist at Oxford. “We see this massive mosaic, with gene flow between east and west and between wild and domesticated.”
There have been hints before at this kind of interbreeding in dogs and in horses. But this work really drives home that, contrary to what researchers had long assumed, domesticated animals often mated with wild counterparts. And what happened in pigs—and possibly dogs and horses—may have happened in other animals, Vila says. Recent work in barley indicates that some crops have a similar history. “The separation between domestic and wild lineages is not always clear,” Vila notes.
Researchers have assumed that so much interbreeding should have caused boars and pigs to look more alike than they do. But apparently by always selecting animals that looked like pigs and not boars, these early farmers were able to enhance and maintain piglike behavior and traits. This selection likely created “islands of domestication,” sets of genes that were passed on in the pigs despite interbreeding, the researchers suggest. There are even a few islands—those that contain genes involved in behavior and size, key traits for domesticated animals—that are in the genomes of both European and Asian pigs, Larson reports. The idea of “islands” provides a “basal genetic model for understanding domestication that could be tested in other species,” says Ludovic Antoine Alexandre Orlando, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Copenhagen, who was not involved with the work.
Similar islands are thought to enable new species to form. “We need to be looking at these special islands and how they are established and maintained,” says Alan Cooper, a molecular evolutionist at the University of Adelaide in Australia who was not part of the study. And Larson and his colleagues are doing just that by sequencing genomes of ancient pigs and boars to better pick out the islands and figure out when they first appeared.
Marshall looks forward to these and other efforts. “We have to completely rethink domestication processes,” she points out. “Genomics provides very exciting tools with which to do this.”
Read the original post: news.sciencemag.orgdomesticated, wild boar