(Pictured here: Italian sausage & leek bread pudding with Smoked glazed ham.)
Pork. Lardo. Guancaile. Sausage. Smoked ham. I’ve never really cooked a lot of pork product, but this winter, I had a chance to partake in a local “pig share” of Mangelitsa pig from my friends farm up the street. I’m not good at explaining this heritage breed, but this website does.
I paid for a 1/4 pig and it was on the pricey side, but there were chops, ribs, lardo, smoked and cured finished products. Imagine watching your food grow up and nurtured: sort of the pinnacle of farm to table.
The pigs live on a 9 acre ranch, are rotated weekly and get to get their bellies rubbed and live outdoors. We have mountain lions here and they got their excercise when attacked two nights in a row: none got hurt, thankfully, but they did run to another farmers property about 1.5 miles away. I saw the farmer walking them back along the road the morning after.
They were a few months old when I first met them. So cute!
I’m sure many of you may think I’m cruel to eat something I’ve met, but I can say that the farmers wanted to raise hearty pigs without antibiotics, in a humane environment, and with love. They explained that each pig costs about $3000 to feed and care for for a year. Moving an electric pen every week and keeping them safe, comfortable, fed and hydrated in our previously sweltering, drought ridden years was challenging. The farm raises heritage turkeys, chickens, geese, and lamb, too. Though the geese are especially mean and I don’t think that they want to raise those again!
Here are a few of the meals that I’ve made so far.
Smoked ham hash with sweet potato and herbs.
Guanciale and oyster stew.
Beautifully rendered lard for frying perfect oyster po boys.
..and the most crispy fried chicken.
The most succulent and fatty pork chops I’ve ever had. (With wild rice and sweet potato-cranberry, apple hash.)
No. I’ve never bought pork from a store that looked even close to this marbled goodness.