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Adventures in Exotic Meat: Mangalitsa Pork

30.November 2010

A few weeks ago I saw a tweet from Marx Foods that they were giving away free samples of fancy, fatty, delicious Mangalitsa Pork for people to try out.  Now, you all may know by now that I think that pigs were created specifically with my belly in mind so all I saw were the words FREE and PORK before I hopped on over to their website and begged Justin Marx for some FREE PORK.

Thank all that is good and holy, I received a hunk (about a pound and a half) of slab bacon within a few days and I set to thinking about what to do with it.  Have you ever cooked with slab bacon before?  Oh golly, it’s an experience.  And have you ever cooked Mangalitsa pork before?  WOW.

Fig. 1. Beautiful, beautiful pork, pre-cooking.

Before I got started in earnest, I sizzled up a tiny piece in a pan just to taste it on its own – the meat packed with porky flavor and has a more toothsome character than much other (unsubstantial and now thoroughly eclipsed) bacon (how will I ever go back to normal bacon?).  But the more exciting part was the fat.  I’m not one of those people who will painstakingly slice away the strips of fat from bacon, nor do I believe in cooking bacon until ALL the fat is rendered.  I’ll eat it, but most of the time I am sort of grossed out by the texture of bacon fat, but so hooked on the flavor that I simply can’t stop.  This Mangalitsa fat, however, has a light texture – not gummy, not chewy, not stringy.  It tastes like pork, like butter, like sun shining on new grass.  It’s the best pork fat in the world.  Seriously.

Fig. 2. Crispy, gorgeous bacon.

So.  I sat and I stared down this slab of bacon and started shuffling through my mental file box – carbonara, corn pesto, stir fry, fried rice, plain old eggs and bacon?  CANDIED bacon?  Bacon INFUSED BOURBON?  I found myself shouting all of these delicious things at myself, but disgruntled at how this spectacular pig would be shunted to the side, relegated to the realm of relish when really, Mr. DeMille, this pig is ready for its closeup.

Fig. 3. Look at how the fat starts to go translucent while it sears!

So, I thought, bacon is really quite like pork belly, right?  And pork belly is spectacularly well suited to roasting.  And the salty, sweet, savory taste of the bacon would be oh-s0-well suited to a sweet, tangy, spicy sauce.  So, I put on my thinking cap and settled on an Asian-inspired glazed, roasted slab bacon.  (Turns out that Ming Tsai got sent home from The Next Iron Chef for something similar, but he must have been sent home on a technicality if his tasted anything like mine – DELICIOUS.)

Fig. 4. Look at all those spices.

The sauce I concocted was hearty, sweet and sour, with tons of spices and a good deal of acidity to tone down the extreme saltiness of the bacon (in the future, I think I would probably soak it for a few hours to leech out some of the curing salt before cooking).  I didn’t roast it so long that the fat completely melted away, but left a pretty substantial block of it on top.  And you know what?  I ate it.  All.  Delicious.  Add some rice and some blistered green pepper slices and it was a perfectly balanced utterly delicious meal.  For your contribution to this, Marx Foods, I salute you.

Fig. 5. Pork post-roasting.

And you know what? I’m going to use the leftovers to make some dim sum style pork buns!   How about that!  Also, I think it would be pretty sensational just as eggs and bacon.  Or as part of a pasta sauce.  Yum.

As a Public Service Announcement: you do NOT need very much of this meat to make a meal.  It’s very very rich and the meat is very salty, so count on a few small slices with rice and veggies to make a meal.  This recipe will allow for a good deal of leftover meat if there’s two of you.  I reckon it would serve four comfortably.

Fig. 6. The finished product.

Asian Glazed Roasted Bacon

  • 1 t Sesame Oil
  • 1/2 t Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/2 t Cardamom Seeds
  • 1/4 t Yellow Mustard Seeds
  • 6 Whole Cloves
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick, broken into small pieces
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 2″ Knob of Ginger, chopped
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/4 c Soy Sauce
  • 1 T Rice Vinegar
  • 1 T Mirin
  • 1 c Water
  • 1 c Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 lb Mangalitsa Slab Bacon, in one big chunk (Pork belly or duck or beef or something else robust could work well.)
  • 1 Orange, quartered
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Sear the bacon on all sides, starting with the sides, then the bottom, then the fatty/skin side.  If necessary, add a touch of canola oil or sesame oil to the pan.  You will need to leave the fat/skin side down for a while to blister the surface and get a good crackling texture.
  3. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.  Add the sesame oil to the pan and heat through with the rendered pork fat.  Add the red pepper flakes, cardamom seeds, yellow mustard seeds, cloves, star anise, and cinnamon stick to the pan and fry until fragrant.
  4. Add the ginger and garlic to the spices and cook until the garlic begins to brown.
  5. Then add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin, and 1 c water and bring to a simmer.  Add brown sugar and cook until sugar dissolved.
  6. Place the pork, skin/fat side up into the cooking liquid and heap some of the spices on top of the meat and put in the preheated oven.  Add orange quarters skin side down to the roasting pan.  Roast for 1 1/2 hours (until the meat measures 160 on an instant read thermometer and the fat is beginning to render), then kick the temperature up to 450 and roast for an additional 20 minutes.  If the roasting liquid reduces too much while roasting, add water as needed.
  7. During the final roasting period, make rice (I use brown basmati) and prep green pepper slices for blistering.
  8. Remove the pork from the roasting pan and place on a cutting board covered with aluminum foil to rest.
  9. Meanwhile, bring the roasting liquid to a boil and cook until reduced by half and throw the green pepper slices into a red-hot frying pan.  Fry until skin blisters and flesh is a bit tender.
  10. Serve the pork in thin slices over rice with pepper slices and topped with sauce.
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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Kelly permalink
    30.November 2010 19:04

    Love slab bacon! Awe-inspiring, your culinary adventures :)

  2. 17.December 2010 12:38

    Oh dear. This looks decadent. I had a similar thought for the rest of my Mangalitsa, but was going to braise it a bit in wine before searing it up again for that gooey crustiness that is heavenly. You’ve now made it necessary for me to do this pronto!

    • Darby O'Shea permalink*
      17.December 2010 23:10

      Oh yes. Do try it. Very very delicious.

  3. 18.February 2013 14:07

    For a Mangalitsa pork source in the U.S., check out Pasture Prime Family Farm, http://www.pastureprimewagyu.com/spring-lambs-mangalitsa-pork-youre-welcome/, they’re one of the few farms in the States offering Mangalitsa (you can order online), and they raise their pigs outside, sustainably. Truly a unique farm, and the Mangalitsa is OUTSTANDING!

Trackbacks

  1. Slab Bacon After - Asian Glazed Roasted Bacon
  2. Slab Bacon After – Asian Glazed Roasted Bacon | Canal Patito Feo

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