Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wooly Pigs

I picked up two 1-ish pound shoulder steaks from Wooly Pigs at the U-District market two weeks ago. They raise Mangalitsa pigs, and indeed claim to be the only breeding stock of the beasties in the Americas. Unlike most US pigs, these guys were bred to be lard pigs. And they are full of fatty goodness. Like apparently up to 79% fat by weight. On top of that, they are raised and treated well, and sold by the farmer at my local farmer's market. So all of this is reflected in the price...somewhere around $14 a pound.

I had one steak that was pure Mangalitsa and one that was an "F1 Hybrid" which I gather is part Berkshire(?) I can't really remember right now. The big question was how to make the most out of these little piggies.

Pork Confit
Confit came immediately to mind. These guys are fatty to begin with, so why not render some of that out and confit it? The basic recipe was the one from Ruhlman's Charcuterie. I used the F1 for this, and you can see the fat and marbling in the photo over there. Chunked it up, spiced and let sit for a bit. Then I had a problem. Well, a series of problems. First, I didn't have any good lard around and I didn't want to use scary hydrogenated factory lard. Second, despite looking I couldn't find duck fat either. So I used decent quality olive oil. Cooked at 225 for about 4 hours, then into a container. I'll have more on this guy a few days from now when I cook it up for dinner.

Braised Mang
alitsa with Chanterelles and Blackberries

The Herbfarm is arguably the best restaurant in Seattle. I'm poor, so I've never had the pleasure. Though I did play designated driver for my parents' wedding anniversary a couple years back and had the pleasure of tasting a 104 year old Muscatel there.

Which if you think about it makes me a terrible D.D.

Anyhow, they have been raising Mangalitsas and Berkshire hybrids for their table in conjunction with the Wooly Pigs guys. And our local tv station King 5 had the courtesy to post a recipe from them. So I basically followed this recipe. As you can see, the Mangalitsa is pretty well marbled and has a nice thick edge of fat. I trimmed off the fatty edge before braising the rest, and chopped it up. Into a saucepan with a little water on low for a few hours till it was well rendered. Then I tossed fingerling potatoes, garlic, shallots, rosemary, salt and pepper in it and roasted as a side. TASTY!

Here's the final dish. It was pretty tasty. The blackberries were all foraged in a city park the day before. The chanterelles were a nice addition. The braised Mangalitsa has a sortof juicy-pig/steak kind of texture and flavor. I guess my only suggestion would have been more pig!

But two servings was all I had.

Next plan is to get some pork belly from them and confit that, in preparation for November's Fry Day...


Heath said...

Mangalitsa fat tastes a lot better than olive oil! Just show up at the market and say you are the poor guy who had to do the olive oil confit. I'll give you some good pig fat.

That Mangalitsa shoulder steak looks great. I hope you enjoyed its special flavor.

Russell Hews Everett said...

Haha. I've no doubt about that! But I think it was a Wednesday or something and I couldn't wait till the weekend to get good lard at the market. That said, I'll definitely come by and take you up on some lard and belly for a pork belly confit!

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