There’s a new hog on the block much to the chagrin of gastronomes everywhere who mutter about the prevalence of fatback and plot the destruction of David Chang’s empire. Isn’t pork over yet, they grumble, but no, it’s not really, and now a worldly hog has finally landed on the East Coast and we’re not about to mute ourselves just because you think “pork is dead.”
Enter the Mangalitsa.
One heck of a hog (via WoolyPigs.Blogspot)
The Mangalitsa (MON-go-leet-sa) breed of pig was created in 1833 by Hungarian Royal Archduke Jozsef. It has a heart-stopping (dare I say literally?) amount of high-quality fat (lard!) and marbled, juicy, richly flavored meat. The pigs were first brought into the United States a few years ago by Heath Putnam, who founded Wooly Pigs as a result (Mangalitsas are quite wooly) to raise the pigs for the American market. Thomas Keller and renowned restaurant The Herbfarm monopolized the West-Coast-based Wooly Pigs' output until this year, when another outlet got in the mix: New Jersey’s Mosefund Farm.
Michael Clampffer heads the kitchen at Mosefund (He also recently spoke to Gourmet Magazine about the Mangalitsa venture). Hired as a personal chef by the farm’s owner, G. Chris Andersen, also founder and partner of the merchant bank of the same name, Clampffer cooks at the farm and in New York City for both the Andersen home and Andersen LLC (an unparalleled perk if you ask me). Andersen is incredibly proud, and rightly so, of Mosefund, and Clampffer is his missionary, traveling back and forth from country to city with the farm’s produce and meat in tow, leaving tantalizing dishes and whipped lard in his wake.
Mosefund had raised pigs for the past two years, but an atypical establishment demands an atypical pig, and Clampffer found that in the Mangalitsa, “it seemed to fit our desire to be a little bit different. Just like I don’t know many offices that have a chef, that serve vegetables and meat from the owner’s farm.”
“When I first contacted Wooly Pigs, sometime last spring, they didn’t have enough pigs to sell me yet since they were just imported about two years ago. We basically just wanted some pigs for our own use. Wooly Pigs called us back in August, [and] said, ‘I have enough breeding stock now, so if you want to be the East Coast Mangalitsa outfit you got it.’ We thought this would be a great opportunity to raise something very special and different. So we agreed to raise Mangalitsa at Mosefund for the East Coast market. Currently we are still getting set up, so our first batch of pigs will arrive in about five weeks.” Keep in mind that Wooly Pigs does not sell breeding stock; the pigs sold are neutered. Mosefund will raise, slaughter and sell the luscious, unctuous Mangalitsa meat and fat to interested parties on the East Coast, but its pigs cannot reproduce. The farm will receive more from Wooly Pigs as needed.
As one would imagine, this is no ordinary hog, so Clampffer had to study up. “I went to Vienna to learn about the raising, curing and cooking of Mangalitsa. I spent about a week with the president of the Austrian Mangalitsa Breeders Association. I visited many farms and a fine dining restaurant in Vienna, where one of the chef’s specialties is Mangalitsa. I went to Vienna to prepare us for raising, feeding and curing in the best possible way. It was a very valuable trip.”
Mosefund at pork festival Cochon 555–that's whipped lard in the foreground
Though the burgeoning Mangalista enterprise is certainly exciting, there is not much to bemoan in Clampffer’s everyday schedule, whether in the city or the country, cooking for his gourmand patrons who disdain recurring meals, “I have been able to branch out into many different cuisines that I wasn’t familiar with: Thai, Korean, Indian, lots of Italian, pretty much everywhere. [The Andersens] enjoy all types of cuisine and they don’t want any repeats of dishes, unless requested. In a restaurant, most of the time you have to stick to your ‘concept’ so that limits your ideas and new dishes. I have learned so much in the two years I have been with the Andersens about world cuisine.” And having two culinary playgrounds is not bad either, “On the weekends I get to play around with the food more. We have a nice amount of out door cooking equipment. At the office, there is no kitchen, it’s not easy to prepare food there. So I prepare the food at the Andersen’s apartment, taxi it down to the office and finish it there.”
But of course nothing is ever easy in a New York City office building, “there is an issue at the office with ‘cooking’ so I can’t fry [or] sauté anything that requires oil, cause that seems to make the most amount of smell into the air. So it’s very challenging to mix things up keeping in mind the restrictions at the office. At times it’s a pain.” The kitchen has in fact been specially treated to seal in what neighboring offices feel is an unsavory smell. Though that may mute his stove, it hardly quiets his culinary vision, and the Mangalitsa pig is an important component–of Mosefund, Andersen and the meals to come.
As Clampffer says Mangalitsa is the Kobe pork of the porcine world “soon to be taking NYC by storm,” or so he hopes.
He’s not the only one.
Chocolate Truffles with Greaves
Courtesy of Michael Clampffer
12 oz Heavy Cream
12 oz Bittersweet chocolate, 60%, chopped
½ cup Hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
1 cup Greaves (small pieces of protein left over after you render lard)**
½ cup Cocoa powder, Valrhona
1. Bring cream to a boil.
2. Pour cream over chocolate in a large bowl and let sit for 30 seconds.
3. Whisk until combined, add hazelnuts and greaves, then refrigerate until firm.
4. With a melon baller or small spoon scoop out a truffle about the size of a cherry–they don’t have to be perfect–and roll between your hands to form a ball.
5. Pour cocoa powder into a bowl; drop truffles in. Roll around until fully coated.
** Wooly Pigs has great visuals of rendering lard and separating greaves via Master Butcher Marcel Kropf available here
| AIM: askeats | Twitter: eatsdotcom