A Park Slope restaurant specializes in whole, roasted pigs and uses all the parts in its pulled pork barbecue. Edible magazine's Rachel Wharton filed the following report.
At Fort Reno restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn, chef Terrie Mangrum shows NY1 how to break down a whole pig.
"Because we're a whole-hog barbecue restaurant, we literally use the whole hog unless we're going to run a special. Then we'll try and cut out some chops or something like that. But we really use the entire pig, we smoke the entire pig from head to foot, and that goes in our pulled pork barbecue," says Mangrum.
Once the porker is in parts, Mangrum adds seasoning. The legs get paprika, chipotle, coriander, cumin and fennel seed, while the head gets a brown sugar cure laced with black peppercorns and arbol chilies.
The meat is smoked overnight over local hickory and applewood and then shredded together and pan-fried in its own juicy pork fat. That goes into the pulled pork sandwich, which comes with pickles and slaw.
On September 1, Mangrum will be serving a similar dish on Governor's Island, when 25 chefs will be cooking whole pigs at an event called "Pig Island."
The event is part of a current trend toward buying whole animals. Like many local chefs, Mangrum became her own butcher for quality control.
"You see the animal. You know there's no bruises and it hasn't been mistreated and is raised in a proper way," says Mangrum. "You can cut whatever you want to cut out of it, cook whatever you want to cook out of it. If you want to have chops then you can cut your own chops, instead of getting a hot mess from somebody else."
Though, unlike most local cooks, Mangrum has a lifetime of experience with whole pigs.
"So I'm originally from Tennessee. I grew up on a farm, a tobacco farm, but we did raise pigs. And I've cooked barbecue since I was young myself," says Mangrum. "I moved up here to New York over 20 years ago and have been cooking Southern food since I came up here, since before people really wanted to have it."
So catch Mangrum showing off her skills with swine on Pig Island.