Barbecuing and heritage pork – not a combination you hear about very often. After all, barbecue techniques were created to make use of less desirable cuts of meat like Boston butt or picnic roast. Slow cooking these pork cuts over a wood fire for 18 hours turns them into a delicacy that’s almost a religion in some parts of the country. Texas, North Carolina, and Kansas, for instance, are known for delicious barbecue – and you just don’t hear many of these traditional barbecue lovers talking about the heritage breed of meat, known for being of the highest quality.
You are probably familiar with heirloom tomatoes, which are not cross-bred like most tomatoes raised today. Fans think they taste much more flavorful than most commercial tomatoes. Like the seeds used to grow fresh heirloom tomatoes, the bloodlines of heritage (or heirloom) pigs can be dated back hundreds of years ago. The many types of heritage breed pigshave enjoyed a surge in popularity over the past 10 years or so as people begin to understand the dramatic difference in the quality of their meat, especially when compared with meat from factory-raised pigs. There are many factors that differentiate the breeding of pasture raised heritage pigs from factory-raised pigs, such as diet and feed, where the presence of hormones and antibiotics determine the quality level and how these products can go to market. When you eat heritage pork, you can rely on the fact that the pasture raised livestock is certified as a naturalproduct.
French chefs and barbecue circuit champions are discovering the wonderful differences that heritage pork makes in a barbecue. In New York City, Chef Hugh Mangum uses Berkshire hogs in his wildly popular Greenwich Village restaurant, Mighty Quinn’s Barbecue.
“In my fine dining days, we took it for granted that better ingredients yield better results," Chef Mangum told food writer Josh Ozersky. "Plus, I don't want to feed my customers what I wouldn't feed my kids." In a recentWall Street Journal article, Ozersky suggested that Berkshire pork, with its pure flavor and well-marbled flesh, may be the secret to Mangum’s “obscenely rich pulled pork.”
Few chefs would take a breed of meat this good and cook it for hours on end. Mangum’s response: “Just because it's barbecue doesn't mean it has to stay the same. I want to take it further.” Taking it further doesn’t mean getting complicated. Mangum’s “Texalina” style fuses barbecue techniques he learned from his father in Texas with his wife’s eastern Carolina culinary secrets. "My true approach is simple,” Mangum told aBrooklyn blogger. "I'm trying to source the best quality ingredients and not fuss with them too much. Cooking the old school way, with wood and time."
Mike & Debbie Davis of Lotta Bull, world barbecue champions and four-time American Royal Grand Champions, also know the difference that quality meat can make. They insist on heirloom Berkshire pork and Wagyu beef for their much-honored barbecue. The Davises have adjusted some of their recipes and techniques over the years, but never waiver from using top-quality pork and beef. As Mike wrote in hisLotta Bull blog, “The judges’ tastes have changed over the past couple of years so we’ve been slowly adjusting our taste profile.” He added, “We have the best product to start with.”
We couldn't agree more. No matter how you slice it, anything you make will be better if you start with the best. Putting lipstick on this pork just makes the lipstick look good.
Are you ready to experience this flavorful breed of meat, with its exceptional marbling and tender texture? Let's get eating! Shop our selection of heritage pork productshere.