Front Porch Farm’s Cinta-Berkshire Cross Pigs

Whole Hog Dinners, March 14-17, 2017
Reserve online or call 510.547.5356

Cinta pigs were bred in Italy for hundreds of years for prosciutto-making and the like, and so of course we were moony-eyed when Front Porch began breeding them at Acorn Ranch in Mendocino. Front Porch remains the only breeder of Cintas in the country, and we’re purchasing one of their Cinta-Berkshire crosses for Whole Hog —while Cintas are the traditional choice for salumi-making, Cinta-Berkshires are better suited for our delectable Cuban-style roast.

Cintas are known as lard pigs, meaning that they tend to put on fat more easily than they do muscle. It’s a great thing when making salumi, as curing meat requires a lot of fat to help preserve the meat. Their muscles are small compared to bacon pigs like Berkshires, which are bred not for fat but for juicy, tender chops and loins. Crossing a bacon pig with a lard pig allows Acorn Ranch to offer a meaty, marbled pork with the flavor that makes prosciutto so delicious.

Acorn Ranch’s pigs are fed a base diet of non-GMO wheat, oats, green peas, and sunflower, and are allowed to roam and forage on the ranch. Over the winter, they’ve been nibbling on grass and roots.

We’re extremely pleased to be kicking off our Whole Hog Dinners with this beautiful, rare pig on Tuesday, March 14. We’re looking forward to seeing you then!

Our Whole Hog Line-up:

A whole pig will be prepared using our Caja China, a Cuban style way of making delicious, roast pig.

March 14 (Tuesday) – Cinta-Berkshire from Front Porch Farm
March 15 (Wednesday) Red Wattle from Lazy S Farm
March 16 (Thursday) – pure Berkshire from Morgan Farm
Friday 17 (Friday) – Berkshire cross from Devil’s Gulch

reserve online or call 510.547.5356

Announcing Whole Hog Dinners, March 14-17

Photo by Newman Farm.

If you know us well, you know we’re big on pig, and every year we get positively geeky about it with a series of whole animal, nose-to-tail dinners. Because of Chef Jonah’s enduring interest in top-notch heritage animals, this tradition of coming together to dine on impeccably raised pork never gets old – there’s always something new to share.

For this year’s series we’ll be offering whole roast pig. Each night we’ll be featuring a different breed from a different farm. It will be roasted in our China Box (La Caja China) – a wooden container lined with marine-grade aluminum that renders a whole pig mouthwateringly tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. Some of this will be offered in a Cuban-inspired dish. Swoons should ensue.

A selection of house-cured porky delights will also be in the offing: salami piccante and finocchiona, as well as coppa, mortadella, and coppa which are made from whole muscles. These will be made with a Berkshire pig from Newman Farm.

All in all, this will be a smaller, more focused dinner that will make it easier to try everything. The full menu is in the works, and we’ll have more details for you soon. In the meantime, reserving now guarantees a good seating time for a glorious dinner.

Whole Hog Dinners
March 14-17, 2017

Reserve

February 24th, 2017|Coming up..., Events, Whole Animal Butchery|0 Comments

This Just In: Salumi

We’re particularly excited about our cured meats these days. We’ve done salumi for years – before it became commonplace for local restaurants to have them – but while there’s lots of it around, it can be hard to find it made really well.  Our current selection is particularly nice. Chef Jonah chose the pig himself on a farm tour through the southern midwest, where he stopped in at The Good Farm, a diverse farm in Topeka, Kansas, that specializes in heritage pigs prized in restaurants coast to coast. Looking for sizable hams and a decent amount of fat – though not too much – he chose an Old Spot, a historic breed from Gloucestershire, England.

The coppa he made from its whole muscles have been cured over the last 5-6 weeks, so it’s young and sweet – allowing you to taste more of the meat flavor. For comparison, the 24-month prosciutto we will be serving alongside has the consistency and flavor of cheese – rich and porky. Jonah finishes the platter with some swordfish, cured and smoked, and toscano, rustica, finocchiona, and morcilla; ciappa with lardo.

Stop on in. We’ll be having this salumi plate for some time, though the 24-month prosciutto will only be available for a short while.

Chef’s Whole Hog Menu Top Picks

The Cinta is a special pig traditionally used in salumi-making.

We wish Tuesday would get here just a little faster. Chef Jonah’s promised us some rare Italian farmhouse treasures for our Whole Hog series of dinners, and we admit to feeling slightly, joyfully impatient — like children awaiting Christmas. Prep for this week’s Whole Hog dinners has been going on for days. Here, from the menu below, are some of Chef Jonah’s favorites:

Radiatore with braised pork skin, octopus, and Ceci beans
— this will be a pasta nero (squid ink pasta), with crispy skin and octopus;

Agnolotti dal plin of boudin blanc sausage with toasted pistachios, Savoy cabbage, and Pink Lady apple
— little pasta pillows filled with a mild pork pudding;

We don’t get to do these very often, and they are so delicious:
Boudin noir sausage with house-fermented sauerkraut, roast apple, and breadcrumbs
— blood sausage(!);

Breaded costoletta of pork with saffron risotto, artichokes, and gremolata
 Milanese-style breaded pork chop;

Spit-roasted Red Wattle ham with onion soubise, Yellow Finn potatoes, and saba;

Along with everything else:

 

Whole Hog Dinners 2016
March 1-4

Antipasti

Cold

Vitello tonnato”: pork loin with swordfish, aïoli, and caper sauce

Carne cruda of pig’s heart with Calabrian chili, sun-dried tomato, fennel pollen, and oregano

Grilled crostini with ciccioli, Tuscan-style pâté, and pickles

Terrina of pork with saba, frisée, and whole grain crostino

Affetati misti: selection of fermented salumi and cured whole muscles

Salad of mixed chicories with crispy pancetta, balsamic vinaigrette, and ricotta salata

Coppa di testa with grilled Castelfranco radicchio, pickled onions,and crumbled farmer’s cheese

 

Warm

Fritto of pigs’ ears and Kennebec potatoes with oyster aïoli

Stuffed and fried pork trotters with coarse mustard and turnips with their greens

Charcoal-grilled Tuscan-style sausage and Butter bean cassuola with breadcrumbs and lemon

Crostino of lardo, rosemary-roasted dates, and old aceto balsamico

Cotechino with Puy lentils, sherry vinaigrette, and salsa verde

Soup: vellutata of Cannellini beans with Senise pepper-spiced pork skin and Cipolline onion petals

 

Primi

Orecchiette with pork sausage, Manila clams, and broccoli di ciccio

Butternut squash gnocchetti with whey-braised pork and Gorgonzola  dolce

Radiatore with braised pork skin, octopus, and Ceci beans

Saffron chitarra with ragù all’abruzzese

Agnolotti dal plin of boudin blanc sausage with toasted pistachios, Savoy cabbage, and Pink Lady apple

Bucatini all’amatriciana

 

Secondi

Zampone with Floriani red flint corn polenta, Chantenay carrots, and sun-dried tomato salsa

Spit-roasted Red Wattle ham with onion soubise, Yellow Finn potatoes, and saba

Boudin noir sausage with house-fermented sauerkraut, roast apple, and breadcrumbs

Breaded costoletta of pork with saffron risotto, artichokes, and gremolata

Porchetta with grilled asparagus, farro verde, and salmoriglio

Budino of seasonal vegetables tbd

Pancetta-wrapped monkfish with celeriac, brown butter, capers, and lemon

 

Dolci

Salted caramel tart with lard-graham crust, toasted meringue, Sambuca chocolate sauce, and anise-candied bacon

Lemon-polenta torta with thyme ice cream, roasted lemon sauce, and honeyed almond-pancetta nougatine

Yogurt cheesecake with pistachio crust, apricot mostarda, saffron-honey crème anglaise, and orange blossom granita

Bittersweet chocolate cake al sanguinaccio with blood orange sauce, almond crumb, and vanilla ice cream

Due of sorbetti: Campari-grapefruit and whiskey-lemon-ginger

 

Whole Hog Dinner Menu March 1-4

Happy pigs. Photo courtesy of Magruder Ranch.

Happy pigs. Photo courtesy of Magruder Ranch.

Chef Jonah’s menu pays tribute with aplomb to the wonderful, humble, marvelous pig! Rooted in Italian peasant tradition, this particularly porcine menu revels in all parts of the pig and its many culinary uses. We hope you can dine with us in honor of this splendid animal.

Whole Hog Dinners 2016
March 1-4

Antipasti

Cold

Vitello tonnato”: pork loin with swordfish, aïoli, and caper sauce

Carne cruda of pig’s heart with Calabrian chili, sun-dried tomato, fennel pollen, and oregano

Grilled crostini with ciccioli, Tuscan-style pâté, and pickles

Terrina of pork with saba, frisée, and whole grain crostino

Affetati misti: selection of fermented salumi and cured whole muscles

Salad of mixed chicories with crispy pancetta, balsamic vinaigrette, and ricotta salata

Coppa di testa with grilled Castelfranco radicchio, pickled onions,and crumbled farmer’s cheese

 

Warm

Fritto of pigs’ ears and Kennebec potatoes with oyster aïoli

Stuffed and fried pork trotters with coarse mustard and turnips with their greens

Charcoal-grilled Tuscan-style sausage and Butter bean cassuola with breadcrumbs and lemon

Crostino of lardo, rosemary-roasted dates, and old aceto balsamico

Cotechino with Puy lentils, sherry vinaigrette, and salsa verde

Soup: vellutata of Cannellini beans with Senise pepper-spiced pork skin and Cipolline onion petals

 

Primi

Orecchiette with pork sausage, Manila clams, and broccoli di ciccio

Butternut squash gnocchetti with whey-braised pork and Gorgonzola  dolce

Radiatore with braised pork skin, octopus, and Ceci beans

Saffron chitarra with ragù all’abruzzese

Agnolotti dal plin of boudin blanc sausage with toasted pistachios, Savoy cabbage, and Pink Lady apple

Bucatini all’amatriciana

 

Secondi

Zampone with Floriani red flint corn polenta, Chantenay carrots, and sun-dried tomato salsa

Spit-roasted Red Wattle ham with onion soubise, Yellow Finn potatoes, and saba

Boudin noir sausage with house-fermented sauerkraut, roast apple, and breadcrumbs

Breaded costoletta of pork with saffron risotto, artichokes, and gremolata

Porchetta with grilled asparagus, farro verde, and salmoriglio

Budino of seasonal vegetables tbd

Pancetta-wrapped monkfish with celeriac, brown butter, capers, and lemon

 

Dolci

Salted caramel tart with lard-graham crust, toasted meringue, Sambuca chocolate sauce, and anise-candied bacon

Lemon-polenta torta with thyme ice cream, roasted lemon sauce, and honeyed almond-pancetta nougatine

Yogurt cheesecake with pistachio crust, apricot mostarda, saffron-honey crème anglaise, and orange blossom granita

Bittersweet chocolate cake al sanguinaccio with blood orange sauce, almond crumb, and vanilla ice cream

Due of sorbetti: Campari-grapefruit and whiskey-lemon-ginger

 

Announcing Whole Hog Dinners, March 1-4

cintas-11

The Cinta pig is an Italian breed traditionally used in cured meats. Photo courtesy of Front Porch Farm.

 

This will be our fifteenth year celebrating the glorious pig with a four-day series of dinners akin to the community dinners once commonly held at butchering time.

The inspiration for our menu comes from the heart of Italian food which lies in its peasant kitchens and butchers like our friend Dario Cecchini, whose family in Tuscany has been practicing butchery for 250 years. Dario expresses the purest love for pigs through his work. In this video, he professes it so poetically, so movingly, it serves as a reminder for us to think harder and understand more about where our food comes from.

According to Cecchini, there are no premium or lower cuts of meat — all parts are delicious if butchered and cooked appropriately. We hope we can convey some of that boundless love and respect through Chef Jonah’s farm-inspired menu.

For these dinners, we’ll be breaking down at least five delicious whole pigs from farms like Front Porch which supplies us with its delicious Cintas.

It’s best to experience this meal in a group. The menu is expansive, and you’ll be able to taste more dishes that way. Make your reservation soon! This dinner fills up quickly.

Downstairs Rosticceria: House-made Sicilian Pork Sausage

pork-sausage-16-9

We’re particularly pleased with our Sicilian pork sausage of late. Mildly spiced with fennel, coriander, and garlic, it’s full of the good, earthy flavor of well-raised Riverdog Farm pork. Here we’ve accompanied it with our whole-grain Red Flint corn polenta and Brussels sprouts, roasted until caramelized and crisp – though we have a number of sides to choose from. Our Calabrian pepper salsa adorns the whole and lingers on the tongue, tasting of last summer’s sweetness and fruity olive oil.

It’s rustic winter comfort food, exquisitely made.

Our downstairs evening rosticceria menu is available for takeout via our website. Or, you can download our smart phone app and order your dinner while out and about. When you order the first time online or through our mobile app, you get 20% off your order.

To download our app:
text “oliveto” to “33733”

Our rosticceria menu is available during evening service in the cafe.

 

This Just In: Steak

meat on grill 600x600

As we progress through one of Magruder’s exquisite steers, we’re rewarded by some choice middle cuts. We happen to be just about there now — look for sirloin and tenderloin midweek, and rib-eye and New York strip steak Friday and Saturday.

Our New Rosticceria

rosticceria

rosticceria-pork-potatoes-600

Porchetta with tomatoes, olive oil-whipped potatoes, and salsa verde, 19.

We’ve converted our downstairs cafe into an Italian rosticceria in the evenings.

Our rosticceria is focused on fire-roasted or slowly braised meats and simple vegetable dishes from farmers we know, at affordable prices. The menu is designed for quick service, but diners can still sit down and linger – perhaps over a cocktail from our new cocktail list.

With the rosticceria, our neighbors can stroll in for a quick platter of roasted beef, chicken, lamb, or pork (depending on what’s available) with a choice of sides. We’ll also be offering a compelling vegetarian option, a fish stew, and a vegetarian and meat-based lasagne. Our pizza and polenta service will stay the same.

We think spit-roasting on our rotisserie is just the bee’s knees. It’s the simplest way to make extremely well-raised meat taste even better. The meat bastes in its own juices, and the fat from roasts arranged higher on the rotisserie drips onto roasts arranged lower, or onto dishes of vegetables cooking at the bottom. The food takes on the subtle smoky flavors of the fire, which, in our case, consists of charcoal and almond wood.

roasted-brussels-rosticceria

Brussels sprouts with pancetta, 14.

Most importantly, the rosticceria concept allows us to expand our whole animal program, which supports some of our favorite small farmers and ranchers, such as Magruder Ranch, Riverdog Farm, and Hoffman Farm. It will also make their fine, traditionally raised meat and poultry more affordable to our neighbors. A serving of meat plus two sides will cost a little under twenty dollars.

As we go through our animals, different cuts will become available, so our menu will slowly shift as the week progresses.

It’s going to be delicious!

roasted-stuffed-peppers-600

Roasted peppers stuffed with brown Basmati rice, fresh Borlotti beans, almonds, and goat cheese, 11.

Our Way of Working With Whole Animals

beefmap_480

 

 

Nowadays, we receive a steer from Mac Magruder’s ranch every three weeks or so, and we’ve fallen into a rhythm with the animals, using them in a practiced sequence of cuts.

Chef Jonah uses the hanging cuts first, before moving on to those cuts beneath fat caps. The first things we use with a new steer are the flaps, and skirt, flank, and hanger steaks pop up on the menu. From there, the hind and forequarters are taken in hand. Round is used, and then the sirloin, the tenderloin, until  finally we come to the prime cuts – rib eye, and NY strip. By this time, these steaks have aged three weeks. They age beautifully with the fat caps intact.

The cycle begins again when a new steer arrives in the kitchen.

Chef Jonah prefers steers (young males) to heifers (young cows) because heifers tend to be smaller framed, with more surface fat, and less marbling. Steers are the opposite.

They’re something of a treasure in our kitchen, and we’re starting to use more of it in our cafe. Look for house-made pastrami and other delicacies in the coming weeks.