February 12, 2018

TROT ON

Cochon555 celebrates the world of heritage breed pigs

Chefs—and particularly butchers—are a group unto themselves, speaking their own language, keeping their own hours, and setting their own standards. Among the things their most fanatical about: heritage breed pigs. Responsibly raised, organically fed, and highly valued, these pigs are the debutantes of the charcuterie world.

Case in point: last night hundreds gathered at the Four Seasons Resort and Club in Las Colinas for the metroplex’s first Cochon555. Part competition, part progressive feast, and part wine tasting, the event revolves from city to city, celebrating chefs, sommeliers, farmers—and pork. Lots and lots of pork.

The premise of the night goes something like this: a week before the event, five chefs each received a 200-pound heritage breed pig to butcher into six tasting dishes for the event. Among those competing, Chef Junior Borges of The Joule and Chef Josh Sutcliff of Mirador teamed up to receive a pig from Augustus Ranch. The crowd, along with a twenty-judge panel, then named the night’s winner, while wineries offered unlimited pours of their best-when-paired-with-pork vintages.

For the curious, Commissary butcher Zach Dunphy led a “pop-up butcher shop,” demonstrating how to break down a full hog. (It’s more athletic work than we’d imagined.) The cuts were then auctioned off to raise money for Piggy Bank, a non-profit farming accelerator that helps small, family farms.

Head Cheese Tortelletti
Head Cheese Tortelletti

Chef David Uygur of Lucia took home the well-deserved trophy and will be competing at the national Grand Cochon finale in Chicago this September. The ramen-style noodles at his station were among our favorite bites of the night, but a certain pasta from Mirador will go down as the most memorable. An unassuming tortelletti, resting in a shallow pool of umami onion broth, and sprinkled with vibrant sprigs of green garlic.

It was only after we tasted (and fully savored) the bite, did we read the description and realize it was a head cheese tortelletti. Head cheese. Previously avoided because of how unappealing it sounds on paper, it taught us a lasting (and tasty) lesson about the virtues of head-to-tail cooking.

The Details: Find out more about Piggy Bank’s plan for open access agriculture here. Then pay a visit to your local butcher at Commissary, 1217 Main Street.