A Rare Kill

15 Nov

I write this smelling heavily of smoke and the outdoors.  I am wearing the same clothes I’ve been wearing for the past few days, I just handed in a half-ass excuse for homework; I just got back to school after three and a half hours on the road.

You see, this weekend, I skipped town to partake in a rare experience: a Mangalitsa pig slaughter.  I had never been to an actual slaughter before this weekend, but a couple of weeks ago, I read that Mosefund farm in New Jersey would be holding a workshop on their Mangalitsa pig farm.  What kind of workshop?  What is a Mangalitsa pig?  Well, this was a workshop for hardcore foodies.  Attendees would spend a three day weekend learning how to slaughter, break down, and cook pigs at Mosefund farm.  And these Mangalitsa pigs…well, lets say they are a little known culinary treasure.

Originally from Eastern Europe, the Mangalitsa pig is a woolly species with massive quantities of body fat.  When I went to Hungary a couple years ago, I learned that Mangalitsa pigs neared extinction at one point in time.  However, farmers were working to bring them back, unwilling to give up such a special breed.  Now, in a woodsy area in New Jersey, a family raises around two hundred Mangalitsa pigs, much to the good fortune of America’s pork lovers.

can you make out the pig behind all the wool?

Because I am a college student on a limited budget, I could not afford the workshop.  However, its coordinator was kind enough to let me observe the class free of charge.  Although I did not attend all three days, I learned a lot from day one: the slaughter.

When I arrived at the farm, the students (a group of 12 people, ranging from Brooklyn pork-lovin’ hipsters to park rangers) were getting ready to kill the first pig.  The man and woman in charge of the kill demonstrated the first.  They lured a big, woolly guy to the corner of the pen, trapped him in the corner, and then calmly shot him in the head.

If this description sounds less dramatic than it should, believe me when I say that the kill itself was far less dramatic than I had expected.  Although the chosen pig fought a little at first (he didn’t want to be pushed around), once they shot him, he just went down without a fight.  Compared to the rooster killing I once observed, this was gravy.  One student stuck the pig’s neck to drain blood (for sausage, of course), and that was that.  The hard part would be removing the hair.

Four strong men had to drag the pig into a bathtub of hot water to make the hair-removal process easier.  The students rubbed off much of the hair by going up and down the pig’s sides with some metal chains.  After the pig came out of the bath, students continued to rub off its wool with scrapers, more water, and a torch.  Once they had a bald pig, students hung it from a tractor for the breakdown.

Cristoff, the man in charge of the butchering process, taught how to remove the intestines in one clean piece.  After that, he showed how to remove the organ meats (yum!) and leaf lard (so much in this breed in particular!), and then it was off to the cooler.  While he made the process look simple, things took a little longer when the students took over.  But what else could be expected?

I hope to score some Mangalitsa pork in the future, since I did not have a chance to buy any this weekend.  Even though these pigs were adorable, they are also, without a doubt, delicious little beasties.

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3 Responses to “A Rare Kill”

  1. peculinarydelights November 15, 2010 at 6:15 pm #

    That sounds like an excellent and interesting experience. Very cool that the organizers let you observe! I have to say, I’m a bit jealous! 🙂

    So…did you happen to see what was done with the wool afterward? Just curious. I don’t know what the texture’s like, but it’d be really cool if there was some good use for it, like there is for every other piggy part.

    • getinmebelly November 15, 2010 at 6:28 pm #

      It was great. The wool was actually a little too coarse to be used for something cozy, so we just ditched it. All I have to say is that if you ever try to slaughter one of these suckers, you should probably not scald it in your bathtub. Your drain would be totaled, and Drain-o would not come close to helping the situation.

  2. holly November 15, 2010 at 6:58 pm #

    Maybe it could be used for insulation, or some other sort of filler. Very interesting article Shai… as usual.

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