06
Feb 11

I’m Big on the Pig: Part V

PigStock, Day 3: Sausage, Headcheese and Curing, Oh My! In short, the third (and final) day of PigStock was a LOT of fun.

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Let’s talk about the photo above. That’s a little dish called Meat Pocket. It sounds simple enough, and it is, but when that Meat Pocket is made of Mangalitsa, it’s also INCREDIBLY delicious. Epic, even (do you SEE that crispy pork skin and the juicy deliciousness underneath?!).

We all swooned. I might I have even gone back for thirds. Don’t judge me.

(P.S.: I  find that Meat Pocket is even more delicious if you sing its praises in the style of Jim Gaffigan’s riff on Hot Pockets. Though, to be fair, the Meat Pocket and the Hot Pocket are not even in the same stratosphere when it comes to actual food quality… but the joke still makes me laugh.)

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Also? We made headcheese. With blood in it. If you like blood sausage, you’ll love it.

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Oh, and blood sausage? Yeah, we made that, too.

… unfortunately, I failed to snap a good picture of it, so the photo above shows the mixing of what was my favorite sausage: Mangalitsa with cheese! I think there may have also been venison in the mixture? Regardless, it was delicious. Cheese, like Mangalitsa, makes everything better. So, the two of those together: even better than you’re imagining right now. Times ten.

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We also rendered pork cracklins’. Sprinkle some sea salt on these and they are, in fact, life-changing. Especially while they’re still hot. I might have gained 3 pounds that weekend entirely thanks to these. Or it might have been 5 pounds. Maybe.

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This is whipped lard. You can use it in so many different ways. Think about using it in any place you’d normally use whipped cream.

… Did I just blow your mind?

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Did I mention we made sausage?

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Yeah. We made that.

(It was GOOD.)

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Then Christoph showed us how to cure our meats. Did you know that if you make sausage from an animal on the same day that you slaughter it, you don’t have to use any nitrates? It’s true. That’s why people often schedule their lives around the pig hunt or when they plan on slaughtering their pigs – you want to go from live animal to finished products as quickly as possible.

(Did I ever tell you that my grandparents met at the village feast on the night of the wild boar hunt? It’s true. Maybe I’ll tell you that story sometime. Also? I recently found out that I have Mangalitsa farmers in my family tree – only a few generations back! Who knew?)

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There was a lot of laughter. Plenty of ‘That’s What She Said!’ jokes and other shenanigans. And, while not everyone is pictured in this one shot, I think you can tell by the faces that made the frame that we had an amazing weekend: we may be exhausted and looking rough, but we’re all full and happy.

What a great way to spend a weekend, truly: having a new, unique experience with strangers, working together, cooking together, dining together, drinking together. You won’t stay strangers long, and you may even make some friends for life.

(Awwwww.)

To close: you may leave the farm behind, but Pigstock will never leave you. Whether it’s through the knowledge you’ve acquired or the relationships you’ve forged, an experience like this really sticks with you.

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Just ask my dog, Alfie. He was simply TRANSFIXED by my Mangalitsa-infused tennis shoes.

P.S. Want more from PigStock, Day 3? Click on over to my Flickr.
P.P.S. Want more Mangalitsa? Live in New York? Head on over to new FoodShed Market in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn (my neighborhood!). Michael from Mosefund Farm will be there selling Mangalitsa every Sunday until the weather warms and he heads back to the New Amsterdam Market.


19
Jan 11

I’m Big on the Pig: Part IV

The second day of Pigstock is all about butchery and offal. Which, as it turns out, are now two of my favorite things (I’ve always been big on offal, but now I know for certain what I’ve long suspected – butchery is a lot of fun!).

Let’s start with butchery. As you’ll remember from my last post, the first day of Pigstock involved pig slaughter – all in all, I think we killed 7 hogs. On the second day, it was time to break the pigs down so we could cook them and make products (such as sausage, headcheese, etc.). Since there were about a dozen of us there, we each had a half of a pig to butcher.

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(… this is where we admire Christoph’s awesome chainmail glove. Be jealous.)

To see how Christoph breaks down the whole half pig, click on through to my Flickr (this includes how to prepare a ham, Spanish-style). For more information on pig butchery, check out this instructional guide posted by Heath Putnam, who raises Mangalitsa hogs in Auburn, WA. His blog, Wooly Pigs, is a great Mangalitsa resource.

Now, on to a few more things I learned at Pigstock. Take, for instance, the glands pictured below (like humans, pigs have glands in many different parts of their bodies).

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When you’re butchering an animal, pay close attention to how the glands look. If they’re dark (like those pictured above), that means that the animal might have been under stress of some kind at some point (maybe it got into a fight with the other animals; this is common). The point is that you should pay attention to the meat when the glands are dark: in some cases, you may not want to use all the meat. If you do, you’ll want to pay extra attention to how it’s prepared.

On to some more… delicious… revelations from PigStock:

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That’s scrambled eggs… with pig’s brain and parsley. It’s good. So good, in fact, that I think you deserve the recipe. Check it out:

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Mangalitsa Brains with Eggs

Brains

Eggs

Fat (Mangalitsa lard, butter, or oil)

Onions, chopped

Salt

Pepper

Parsley, chopped

Peel the brains. Season them with the salt & pepper. Heat your skillet, add and heat the fat. Sauté the onions, add the brains (they’ll cook quickly). Pour in the eggs and scramble according to your favorite method.  Top with parsley.

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That’s a traditional Austrian recipe, courtesy of Christoph and Isabell Wiesner, our amazing instructors (brains are a traditional dish in Hungary, too, obviously).

If you need exact measurements for the ingredients, I’d check out a recipe for scrambled eggs with calf’s brains. The going ratio seems to be 1 egg to approximately 1 ounce of brains. As is often the case in my kitchen, though, here I’d just wing it. Trust your gut, so to speak.

OH: Check back soon for PigStock Day 3: Sausage, Headcheese and Curing, Oh My!