After our recent pilgrimage to upstate New York for a first look at the next stage in pig evolution, courtesy of Cesare Casella, we started thinking about the places serving breeds that have been around for centuries — the so-called "heritage" pigs whose noble lineage makes them extra-tasty.
• At Lupa Osteria Romana, Red Wattle, Tamworth, and Berkshire pigs rotate onto the menu in turns. Steve Connaughton serves up a pork shoulder braised in white wine with garlic and onion, then delicately finishes the dish with a rose-petal glaze. Also on the menu: whole roasted pork loin, rubbed with salt and pepper, then roasted and served with fennel and onions; and milk-fed suckling piglets, whole roasted, then served with sea salt and salsa verdi.
• The Spotted Pig's April Bloomfield, who joined us upstate, offers a thinly sliced Red Wattle or Berkshire pork tonnata; slow-roasted pork loin that comes with mayonnaise whipped from a fresh cream and served with capers; and, for the truly hard-core, a crispy pig's ear with a lemon-and-caper dressing.
• Chef Jimmy Tu over at Tigerland lends Asian flair to his Berkshire, Duroc, and Red Wattle meats: There are spareribs marinated with garlic and black pepper, then braised in coconut juice; and grilled lemongrass pork chops made from the center cut of either Berkshire or Duroc, and then served with pork salad or sautéed tenderloin. Tigerland, 85 Ave A bet. 5th Street and 6th Street; 212-477-9887.
• And, of course, Cesare Casella of Maremma has Large Black lardo, a creamy and intense cured pork fat which provides the purest essence of the animals flavor, simply served up on hot grilled bread.
Cesare Casella Invents a New Pig [Grub Street]