One of the aspects I love about cooking competition barbecue is the quest to find the ultimate meat to compete with. I’ve tried sourcing delicious meats from around the US and the world. I consider myself as a self-appointed pork aficionado and have cooked and tasted a variety of pork breeds such as Duroc, Berkshire, and Kurobuta. I recently came across another delicious pork breed called the red wattle…..
The red wattle is a rare heritage breed hog that is listed as threatened by the Livestock Conservancy. The red wattle is a large breed that is easy to handle and well suited to outdoors production. They are called “wattle” because they have fleshy appendages that hang on either side of their chin. The wattles have no known use.
Krystian Cook of Cook Pigs Ranch took it upon herself to breed, feed, and process the red wattle pig until it becomes mouth-watering perfection. With 2 young boys and a military husband who is often deployed, fighting for our freedom, she’ll find herself in 6 inches of mud at 5:30 in the morning pushing around 800 pounds of pig, feeding her obsession of “Pork Perfection”
I got the opportunity to drop by Cook Pigs Ranch and met Mike and Krystina Cook. They recently got into the business of producing the rare red wattle pig for consumption at local businesses. There is nothing I love more than a meaty rack of ribs or a nice juicy pork chop but when I find out that it is raised by a local farmer, a military wife and mother; each bite I take carries so much more appreciation and meaning. The endless hours that are put in to create each perfect bite become more of an “ode to this great nation” than a method of edible nutrition.
We do a really slow feed program, which is 14 months. We don’t feed them anything conventional. We feed them with avocados, beer mash, left over fruits and vegetables from left over produce. I go to different CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture). They’ll call me up and let me know they have a truck load of lettuce. I go and pick it up and give it to the pigs. Their diet is very organic. It’s macrobiotic in that sense it comes from trees that are producing fruit and macadamia nuts locally.
They are red wattles which is a heritage breed pig. They are almost extinct. You see those huge wattles hanging off of their face? Most of ours have wattles and some of them are mixed. That’s our big difference here most farmers don’t do wattles in Southern California. The closest person that does red wattles is on the border of Oregon. Their meat is like a rib eye. Its dark red meat and the fat cap is about 3 inches thick. They are definitely a fat pig. They are not a lean pig so if you want a lean pig they are not your friend. It’s delicious and perfectly marbled but they do need to be pastured. These are not commercial pigs.
I’ve scoured the world purchasing and experimenting with various suppliers, breeds, and processing methods for meat.