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SOME PIG

Sonofabitch.

If there was a phraseology hall of fame, this would have to be an all time first balloter. What’s so brilliant about it is that it can apply to nearly anything. “Son of a bitch” is what you call someone who’s a jerk or just plain stupid. “Sonofabitch” is what you might say upon the realization of something amiss. And “Sonofabitch!” is what I said the first time I tried Mangalitsa pork. It really is that good: sonofabitchin’ good.

Nearly lost a few generations ago, this specific type of piggy has now gained a sort of cult following among the porcine inclined. The meat is rosy and deeply colored, bearing more resemblance in color to grass fed beef than the sad, pale greyish-pink cuts of commodity pork that most of us see in the supermarket. The fat is snowflake white and tastes of nearly equal parts artisan butter and some ultra pornographic version of lard. And the flavor, as I noted earlier, is just plain sonofabitchin’ good. In short, this is God’s pig.

If Wilber in “Charlotte’s Web” had been a Mangalitsa I would have rooted for the farmer and his big cleaver. It simply would have been a waste of Wilber’s life to not kill him and eat him.

If New Jack City had been about snooty food types, the crackhead Pookie would have been a Mangalitsa junky. Wandering around the farmers market with a greasy maw, chapped lips and reusable bags, offering to do horrible things behind the crepe tent for “just another taste of that pig, man.”

If you were in prison, and that prison was next to a Mangalitsa farm, and you were a sex slave, your “Honcho” would trade you out for pork (or maybe just the trotters if you only had one eye, but still).

If someone called you a pigfucker and the pig in question was a Mangalitsa, it would actually be a compliment.

That’s how good this pork is.

The first time I had Mangalitsa, a salami making friend of mine had just picked up several head of the furry pigs (they look a little like tasty, cloven-hoofed schnauzers) and was making a few prototype salami out of them. It was amazing. I didn’t chew it so much as fondle it with my teeth. Then more recently I purchased some fresh Mangalitsa chops and shoulder from Revival Meats at a Houston farmers market. It ain’t cheap, but it’s worth it.  I grilled the chops and ate them that night, reserving some of their nearly 2-inch-thick fat cap to render into lard. I now mix that lard with duck fat and smear it on steaks I’m grilling. The shoulder I made into a fine pork ragu– the most reverent braise I could think of at the time. In hindsight I probably should have roasted it porchetta style, and eaten it with my bare hands while sitting naked in my yard next to an open fire, but that vision is 20/20. I portioned the ragu and obsessively horded it, waiting for the right occasion. Recently was the right occasion. I served it over a little homemade pappardelle, enjoyed a nice dinner with my family and then shouted obscenities about how good it was while I ate.

Mangalitsa Ragu
Mangalitsa shoulder, cut into 1 inch dice
A few slices of pancetta, diced
Dry red wine
Homemade stock (I used a mixed meat stock of chicken, beef and pork)
A few dried porcini mushrooms
Celery, diced
Carrots, diced
Onion, diced
Fresh garlic
Tomato paste or crushed tomatoes
Bay leaves
Fresh Thyme
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Fresh pepper
¼ cup balsamic vinegar

Heat up some of the stock and steep the dried porcini in it. Render the pancetta in a large pan or dutch oven, remove and set aside, leaving he fat in the pan. Season the Mangalitsa aggressively and brown thoroughly on all sides, work in batches over high heat and add more oil if you need to. Remove the meat and throw in the carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Season the veg and use the escaping liquid to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom, adding more oil if necessary. When the veg is slightly browned throw in the tomato and brown it.  Dice the softened porcini. Add them, their liquid and the wine and stock to the pan and bring to a boil. Add your pancetta and browned meat, along with bay leaves and ½ the thyme. Simmer it a few hours, adding liquid if it cooks down too much. You want a somewhat loose, saucey texture to everything. Remove the meat, and while it’s still hot shred it roughly using 2 forks, return to pan. Add the balsamic vinegar and continue to reduce the sauce to a thick consistency. Taste, adjust for salt and pepper, add the rest of your thyme. Serve with pasta, creamy polenta or an IV drip straight into your mainline.

Homemade Pappardelle
3 large eggs
2 egg yolks
Pinch salt
Drizzle olive oil and water
3 cups, plus, Tipo 00 flour

On a board, make a well with the flour. Put all other ingredients in the well and mix together thoroughly. Gradually incorporate all the flour. Scrape and flour your board then need for 10-15 minutes, till you have a slightly sticky but smooth dough. Cover with plastic wrap and rest it for an hour. Roll your pasta out to its thinnest setting on a pasta machine (if you’re using a rolling pin, first you’ll have arms like Lou Ferrigno by the time you’re done, and second roll in batches till you can see the grain of your board through the pasta). Let the sheets dry slightly then roll them and cut them in 1 inch widths, so you end up with long, inch-wide strips. Boil in plenty of heavily salted water till just before done (a minute or two, when it begins to float). Mix with sauce over high heat, till pasta is al dente. Garnish with olive oil and cheese.

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