A pig wrapped in a woolly sheep-like fleece might sound whimsical, but the strangely appealing curly coated hog does exist in the form of Mangalitsa pigs, what's more, they produce a meat so good it has been hailed as the 'kobe beef of pork.'
The rare breed with a 200-year-old Hungarian heritage (also known as Mangalica ot Mangalitza) has experienced a renaissance in recent years, garnering support from both farmers and chefs around the world. The breed that was on the verge of of extinction is now prized for its high fat content, incredibly concentrated flavour, and highly marbleised meat, all qualities that were once rejected in preference for 'white' low fat pork.
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Whilst Hungary remains the largest producer of Mangalitsa pigs, their culinary popularity has spread to them being reared in both the USA and the UK in the last decades. British born celebrated chef April Bloomfield of New York's The Spotted Pig has also recently embarked on a venture championing Mangalitsa pigs on her new UK farm project.
A Superior Flavoured, Buttery Pork
A descendent of the European wild boar and cousin of the black foot Iberian Pig, the Mangalitsa pig incorporates highly desirable qualities from both, yielding a very versatile meat.
A high monosaturated fat content make the pork ideal for curing and charcuterie, from pancetta to salami. While, when it comes to cooking, Mangalitsa pork is equally prized for the tender juicy meat it produces which requires minimal seasoning, or even the lard is equally popular.
Costes, the first Michelin-starred restaurant in Budapest, Hungary has had Mangalitsa pork on its menu since it opened.
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Managlitsa pork has also caught the eye of top US restaurants including Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, Le Cirque, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Eleven Madison Park, Insieme and Vandaag featuring it on their refined menus. The lard has also proved popular amongst pastry chefs with former New York Times food critic Ruth Reichl calling it “the single best pastry fat I’ve ever found.” “Mangalitza’s are the prettiest pigs. And their lard is perfect in pastry. Easy to roll out, very flaky, lovely, fresh flavor.”
Chefs have also been keen to sing the praises of the quality of meat. When chef and butcher April Bloomfield first tasted Mangelitsa pork she commented to the New York Times, “It took me back to my grandmother’s kitchen on a Sunday afternoon, windows steaming from the roasting pork in the oven. Back then pork tasted as it should: like a pig. This pork has that same authentic taste.”
Chef Devin Knell, executive sous-chef at the French Laundry went on to say: “Unlike workaday pork, Mangalitsa is marbled, and the fat dissolves on your tongue — it’s softer and creamier, akin to Wagyu beef.”
Feast your eyes on some of the ways in which Mangalitsa pork is being showcased below:
A photo posted by aprilbloomfield (@aprilbloomfield) on Oct 30, 2014 at 6:27am PDT
A photo posted by Thatcher Baker-Briggs (@thatcherbakerbriggs) on Mar 18, 2016 at 4:03pm PDT
Rolls Royce of lard - mangalista pork , hands down best oink in town and charred to a smoky crisp and aromatic crust :) #mangalista #mangalistapork #pork #sgfood #foodporn #burpple #sgbar #joobarsg #golardorgohome
A photo posted by Ian Low (@thesilverchef) on Mar 14, 2016 at 6:03am PDT
Oh just a hunk of Mangalitsa Pork basted in brown butter honey and citrus. Was messing with some old flavors with a different approach. #food #foodporn #chewdoin #nyc #nyceats #theartofplating #igers #foodpics #dishoftheday #photooftheday #artonaplate #foodarts #chefstalk #chefjohncreger #pork #mangalista #mosefundfarm #newjersey #recipedevelopment
A photo posted by Chef John Creger (@chefjohncreger) on Feb 10, 2015 at 10:50pm PST
A photo posted by Jessica Chang (@jayytree) on Jan 5, 2016 at 7:13pm PST