Back in October, I had the opportunity to experience three of my favorite things all together: Chef Mike LaScola of American Seasons on Nantucket, Chef Matt Jennings of La Laiterie in Providence, and a rather tasty heritage breed Mangalitsa pig.
The two chefs have been collaborating on the Hogtoberfest event on Nantucket for the last three seasons in an effort to raise awareness for the value of well-raised heritage breed animals, that is, animals that have a genetic lineage that predates modern breeding designed to minimize fat (and flavor). Heritage breed hogs unfailingly have better flavor, better marbling, more fat, and in general lead healthier, happier lives than your standard American hog.
I first tasted Matt Jennings food at the Cochon 555 event in Boston a few years ago where he dominated the judging with his awesome carnitas tacos (unfortunately, they aren't available at his cheese-heavy restaurant and shop). The man knows his way around a pig. Mike LaScola runs what is undoubtedly my favorite restaurant on Nantucket. Even though it's only open April through November, I make it a point to try and get to American Seasons every summer (or better yet, fall when the summer crowds have dispersed). Mike's food is inspired and delicious in a way you don't expect on-island.
Check out the video after the jump for some thoughts from Matt Jennings and Mike LaScola about the importance of heritage pork.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Managing Editor of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.