Thursday, November 29, 2018

Picking out the Pig. A Mangalitsa Pig

Mangalista piglets and sow
Last month SD and I drove South, almost to the California border to pick out a pig. We were looking for pork, not a pet and we found it. We also found we had somehow stumbled into the latest thing in pork, the Mangalitsa Pig.

After discovering a local rancher raising the Sailer breed of cow and buying a hindquarter of lean pasture raised, locally grown beef  we've decided to eat locally as much as possible. Besides we live surrounded by ranchs and farms.   Thus it was time to pick up a locally grown pig.  Next is a locally grown lamb, then chickens, ducks, etc.  

Google "Mangalitsa Pig" and you'll discover the world of the curly brown haired heritage pig from Hungary. The meat is considered among the tastiest pork in the world. "The meat of the Mangalica pig is reddish, highly marbled with creamy white fat, and is high in omega-3 fatty acids and natural antioxidants."

These unique pigs are also not suitable or profitable for factory farms, No manure lagoons for these guys! For us, it was one of those who'd a thunk moments. We'd just been looking for local pork, not a whole new kind of pork.

Even the big guys are cute and friendly
But back to our pig. SD had found Ken, the breeder, through craigslist. Over the last month of phone calls and texts they'd worked out the price, and the butcher. Before the big day however, Ken wanted us to come down and pick out the pig. Before that however, he took two weeks to go elk hunting. (Business here pretty much stops when Elk season starts) Elk-less, but ready to sell pigs, Ken called on a Monday and we agreed to meet that Thursday at noon.

Ken's place was up a dirt road on the north side of the broad Tule Lake Valley.  As we pulled into the sage, juniper and pine lined driveway and parked in front of long garage, Ken emerged to greet us. A short walk later and we came to the tidiest pig farm imaginable and we met the pigs. To the right were the sows and the piglets. Piglets are always the cutest things but these little guys, with their curly brown hair and little legs were just too much. The sows were protective, but still friendly.  The big guys were on the left. When Ken walked up to their pen they all ran down to greet him. I've raised pigs for pork and usually by the time they are ready for butchering they are so huge and obnoxious that  no matter how cute they were as piglets, it's no problem to send them on their way.  Such was not the case with these Mangalitsa pigs. They were cute and friendly. There was no way I was going to pick one.

Happy freezer full of beef and pork
SD and Ken decided we'd just go for the smallest one. But how small is any full grown pig? Last Saturday morning we drove to Diamond S Butchers in Klamath Falls to pick up 190 lbs of pork and 50 lbs of that famous creamy white lard.

For lunch we dined on pepper bacon. That afternoon I started learning about rendering lard. Sunday night we feasted on thick juicy pork chops and fluffy lard biscuits. Tonight, it's ham steaks.

Eating local not only makes economic and planetary sense it also tastes darn good!