Chef Ryan Pera at The Grove has a talent for charcuterie. Morgan Weber is a cutting-edge pig farmer. Talk about a match made in heaven. Pera is making salami and lardo with Weber’s mangalitsa pigs. Lardo is Mario Batali’s favorite form of salumi and it’s just what it sounds like–pure pig fat. It’s cured with spices for a couple of months and then…
The mangalitsa pig is a European heirloom livestock variety that was saved from extinction by an enterprising farmer in Spain. It has since become the favorite of American chefs, thanks to its extremely high fat content. The pig was originally raised for the lard. It doesn’t yield a lot of pork, but the fat from this pig is exceptional. Some call it the Kobe of pork.
Weber raises heirloom livestock on his family’s ranch in Yoakum. His company, Revival Meats, is raising mangalitsa pigs and selling them to Pera, among other chefs. Weber is also experimenting with European chicken breeds and will soon start raising an old breed of Gulf Coast lamb.
The heirloom livestock trend is a natural for Texas. After all, Texas ranchers have been importing cattle from all over the world and experimenting with crossbreeds for over a century. In fact, 2010 is the hundred year anniversary of the date that Captain Richard King first mated English Shorthorns and Indian Brahmans to create the Santa Gertrudis, a breed of cattle adapted for the brutal heat of South Texas.