Friday, October 11, 2013

Exploring Food: Mangalitsa

Mangalista Neck, Nasturtium, Okra Medley, Kimchi Garlic Succotash

I love pork. In this particular instance we will be looking at my most favorite cut of pork from my most favorite species of Pig. The Mangalitza and its collar. As said by many a number of chefs it is important to know where your food comes from. With a little research and some piquing of curiosity, I ask rancher and co-owner of Revival Market, Morgan Weber about this particular species and why it's has become my most favorite pig.

The Story
Paraphrased as such. The Mangalitza is a highly fatty 'rare breed' of pig that once massively farmed in Hungary during the mid 1800's . It was used widely for its lard, when back then was used for a number of household products such as soap, lantern oil, and or equipment lubricants.  Eventually the popularity and the use of the pig started decreasing after the first world war and eventually was replaced by a faster growing pig and when vegetable oils were a cheaper substitute.  Somewhere in the 1990's the pure breed species was rescued from extinction and in 2009 we were blessed to have Morgan Weber, Ryan Pera, Justin Bayse, and Chris Shepherd take the first steps and bringing this magnanimous species to Houston.

The Privilege
-"rare breed" limited availabilty
-High Th level in the meat: The higher the acidity the better the flavor and redness is preserved. The integrity of the animal remains in tact.
-perfect marbling and fat development on interior of the animal.
-locally raised.
-no GMOs

The Preperation

When cleaning the collar it is important to leave some or all of the fat cap on in this cooking application. When ‘dry heat cooking’ meat products, the fat retains the meat products flavor and more importantly its moisture! Having more fat reduces the chances of the product drying out.  In some cases you have to wrap the meat with caul fat helps incredibly.

Brine the pork roughly 24-36 hours pending on the thickness of the meat. If it goes over 36 hours it will become unbearably salty. The act of brining does two things, seasons and infuses flavor inside the product and acts as a preservative of the natural flavor of the product. I never cook pork without brining or curing. Some meat products must be trusted before cooking. It helps retain the meats shape otherwise it'll warp itself.

2 Gallons of water 

1 Cup of kosher salt
2 Cup pineapple juice
thyme, black pepper corns, shallots, garlic, bay leaves

The Cooking: Smoking

Smoking is a delicate thing. It takes years to really understand how it all works.  There are many factors to consider when smoking your meats. To scratch the surface of the idea, things like the temperature of the fire and controlling its consistency for nearly half a day or sometime a whole day. How well seasoned a bbq pit is. How often a pit is used and smoked with the consistent use of one particular wood matters. If one were to add cedar to mesquite wood pit... you'd significant alter the final product and in some cases.. you'd ruin your pit.  So to simplify and save myself a head ache due to open flame restrictions outside my work place, I use an electric smoker one can get an Academy or any sports and outdoor authority.

For this application I smoked with mesquite wood chips the first 2 hours of the smoking. I refilled the chips a 2nd time approximately 45 minutes into smoking.  Why mesquite? Mesquite is a tree found indigenously here in the south. It has been used in making BBQ for years and is part of our southern traditions.  

smoke pork collar roughly about 6 - 7 hours at 215 F or 1.5 Hours / LB

Further Research
If you are interested more about this product and would like to see and learn a little bit more. Check out what else they're doing with Mangalitsa at the Revival Market 550 Height Blvd, Houston, TX. 77007 or visit

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