I’ve been singing the praises of Heath Putnam’s Wooly Pigs since I tasted his fine swine at Monsoon on Capitol Hill, so I read with great interest yesterday’s New York Times article on the subject. The story — dateline Hungary — made me hungry. It profiled the Mangalitsa, saved from near extinction by a Hungarian animal geneticist, and gave credit to Putnam for importing 25 of the wooly-coated piglets to our little corner of America. Today, he’s producing nearly 1,200 piglets a year and chefs and food scribes across the land are taking notice, effectively turning his pedigreed porcine product into the Copper River salmon of pork.
Heath, famous for raising Mangalitsa, doing just that at the U-District Farmers Market
Having paid $25 a pound for those lovely chops late last summer — and promptly improperly cooking them for my husband, the unappreciative Jack Sprat — I’ve decided to leave my ventures in pricey-pork cookery to the professionals. Though I know for a fact other more qualified home cooks will beg to differ.
Among the well-regarded pros who’ve embraced this noble breed is The Herbfarm restaurant’s Keith Luce, as the NYT article explains (and as you may have read here at AYCE). Luce literally embraced the Mangalitsas, having raised his own wooly piglets for the Herbfarm table, and in recent weeks his patrons have gotten a taste of one of life’s no-so-little luxuries in Woodinville. “Because it’s so great for curing,” Luce told the Times reporter, “we’re laying it down and curing the legs predominantly, making lardo, all the traditional things. It’s a true nose-to-tail experience with the Mangalitsa, and there’s not any part we’re not using.” Read the full story here.