The New York Times has crowned the Mangalitsa the next "it" pig. That's especially sweet news for Heath Putnam, the local guy who first brought the lard-tastic beast to the states in an effort to introduce Americans to the most flavorful pork in the universe.
Mmmm, Wooly Pigs.
You can talk pig most every Saturday with Putnam, who sells his wares at the U-District Farmers Market. Show some interest and he might even slip you a sample. Straight-up slice of pork fat anyone?
This kind of trend story makes me wonder who will be jumping on the Mangalitsa pig bandwagon in 2011. It's not something I've seen on many menus around Seattle, though Sir Thomas Keller likes it well enough to feature it at The French Laundry in Napa Valley.
One local chef who's been on board from the get-go is Bruce Naftaly at Le Gourmand. He prizes this pig because "it's got so much good, pure fat and a great flavor."
These days, he's pairing Mangalitsa pork with mushrooms in a couple different preparations that sound out of this world. In a ragu with hedgehog and yellow foot mushrooms, this braise is served over spaetzle made by his wife, Sarah. He also stuffs a loin with smoked black trumpet mushrooms, wraps it in caul fat and slow roasts it. I just know eating those dishes would make me as happy as a pig in... well, you know what.