In recent years Mangalitsa (pronounced MAHN-ga-leet-za) pork has retaken the foodie world by storm.
With their abundant fat, the curly-haired Mangalitsa pigs of Hungary were all the rage a century ago – favored by nobility in the Austro-Hungarian empire. Mangalitsas were bred for their silky white-as-snow lard on the Hungarian farms of Archduke Joseph in the 1830s. Herds shrank with the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I and declined further with the introduction of fast-growing white pigs and cheaper vegetable oils after World War II.
With the fashion trend to lean meat, Hungarian wooly pigs, a heritage breed lard hog, nearly went extinct.
Mangalitsas were saved from extinction on a farm at the edge of Hungary’s Great Plain, in efforts to preserve Hungarian heritage. Now that succulent, flavorful pork is back in style, along with increasingly popular charcuterie, Mangalitsa pigs are making a comeback.
Mangalitsas are reknown for charcuterie, cured meats such as prosciutto and sausage. Mangalitsa is the only other heritage “black footed” hog besides Spanish Iberican that can be marketed as “pata negra”, premium prosciutto.
The Mangalitsa pig is genetically very similar to the Iberian pigs of Western Spain that produce the famous Jamon Iberico. And like their cousins, the Mangalitsa pig is renowned for the quality of the fat that it produces, which is low in saturates and high in oleic acid. This comes from the feed given to the animals, which primarily consists of wheat and acorns.