It’s over for this year.  I think we’re finally hitting our stride again.  We couldn’t have had better weather: 50 degrees and sunny.  There wasn’t even a breeze.  The food was all superb, from the breakfast served by Brian Williams and A.J. from the Blue Heron Cafe to lunch and dinner served by the Cook’s House.  I felt spoiled as I had to do nothing and all this great food happened and got cleaned up.  We killed 4 hogs and had them finished and in the reefer truck by 3:30 or so.  Many people were surprised at how non-theatrical and bloody the kill was.  Basically, the hog was stunned by the captive bolt gun, which amounts to a really thorough frontal lobotomy.  The animal is then bled out quickly, which is what actually kills the hog.  The blood was captured to use in blood sausage and red head cheese.  The participants were organized into teams so that noone got left out of the fun of scalding, scraping, and eviserating.  Everything went smoothly and efficiently.  The carcasses looked fantastic and proved themselves worthy as

Christof and Isabell powder a pig prior to scalding.
Even pigs get their ears cleaned.

we processed them over the next two days.  The fat, which was appropriately abundant, was of excellent quality.  It had a rich yet light flavor, whipped beautifully, and maintained its firmness at room  temperature.  The meat proved to be nicely marbled, red, and had a wonderfully deep flavor.  We had a couple instances when Mangalitsa wasn’t available and chefs had to prepare standard pork: it lacked the richness and sweetness of the Mangalitsa.   

Christof and Isabell Wiesner raise and process Mangalitsas  in Austria.  They were, as always, very informational.  They introduced us to several new dishes, including spleen and brains.  Everything on the pig got used, from

Joe makes use of pig hair.

the snout to the tip of the tail.  Lilly even made use of the toes.  It was a new concept for many to see the animal in context from “grass in the mouth” to cut ready for

Brian Polcyn processed the bladders to use as a sausage casing.

cooking and to consider what it means to value that animal’s life in the kitchen.   We do strive to make use of every part of the animals we butcher–either as human, animal, or plant (compost) food, but that is not a typically American idea anymore.  The methods used to turn the Mangalitsas in edible products, however, are Old-World European and therefore do make the most of the animal.  Thanks to NMC Culinary Institute and the Hagerty Center for providing the space, equipment, and other tools needed to make days 2 & 3 go smoothly.

We thoroughly enjoyed all the people who attended the event.  We got to know several of the local chefs better as well as several from around the state and as far away as Maine.  The teaching combination of the Weisner’s and Brian Polcyn was dynamic.  Brian’s culinary creations for the final dinner were truly the crowning jewels of the event. 

Finished products: lardo, red head cheese, head cheese, meat spread, blood sausage, whipped lard