June 15, 2024

Most animals  – as you’d expect – are bred for their meat, but Mangalitsa pigs are bred for their intensely flavored, supple fat.

Virtually extinct by the latter half of the 20th century, the breed was resuscitated recently in Hungary and can now be procured in extremely limited quantities (apparently they slaughter only about two pigs per week) from a farm in New Jersey – to my knowledge, the only breeder of Mangalitsa in the US.

Klee, a European American brasserie in Chelsea happens to be one of the lucky restaurants with an occasional porcine supply.   And as seen here, Chef Daniel Angerer puts it to stellar use in one heck of a pork belly entree.  A sliver of meat is buttressed by a solid two-plus inches of silky fat and skin.  This is like the kobe of fat:  meaty, creamy, you can chew it like a room temperature stick of butter or just let it melt in your mouth.  It’s counter intuitive, to be sure, but wow, the flavor is outrageous.  Klee serves it with braised red cabbage and a rutabaga puree – two strong flavors that stand up to the richness of the belly.  A bottle of spiky Austrian Zweigelt made a perfect accompaniment to what I’d call a one-off wintry treat.

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