Pork backfat is a unique cut of meat that can be heated without all of the fat rendering out. It is what allows a sausage
to retain it’s juiciness when cooked. It is what allows a pate to be creamy but not oily. Modern breeds of pig have
been bred specifically not to produce this cut of pork which is so crucial to great charcuterie. When fed a full grain ration
they will very efficiently convert it to lean meat.
Mulefoot Wins Blind Taste Test!
on January 26, 2009, more than 90 food professionals, chefs, food writers, and food connoisseurs converged at Ayrshire Farm
in Upperville, VA, to participate in a blind-tasting which compared pork from eight rare heritage hog breeds and one
This so-called Pig Pageant was sponsored by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, Humane Farm Animal Care, Slow Food U.S.A. , and Ayrshire Farm, an eclectic group of organizations and individuals committed to saving heritage genetics, promoting
a saner animal production paradigm and bringing flavor back to the table.
The pig breeds in question evolved to fit various regional and farming practices and some are known for producing plenty
of lard, while others are naturally lean. For example, the Tamworth is a lean grazing pig shaped to produce plenty of bacon,
while the Ossabaw Island is a feral breed that stores large amounts of fat for winter survival.
Once the results were tallied, the Mulefoot was on top, but with the exception of the Large Black, all heritage hogs
out tasted the commercial breed. The specific results were as follows:
2. Gloucestershire Old Spot
3. Red Wattle
4. In a tie: Tamworth and Guinea
6. In a tie: Ossabaw Island and commercial
7. Large Black
According to Ayrshire Farm’s Large Livestock Manager, Don Schrider, this event was the largest
comparison of pork breeds in North America to date and it successfully demonstrated that each of the breeds is valuable for
the unique culinary experience it offers.
Special thanks go out to the farms that supplied the meat. If you are in the market for some awesome pork,
or foundation herd stock for a swine project of your own, be sure to check out what these folks have to offer.