Note: Slideshow has photos of pig butchering. Click accordingly.
Not everything is better with bacon. Or pork belly, for that matter. As the palates of the food-focused have developed towards devouring nose-to-tail and farm-to-table menus have swept to Brooklyn's furthest shores, appreciation sometimes turns to misuse.
But Brady Lowe of Cochon 555 is looking to change that, connecting heritage breed hogs with master chefs to educate us on how to use the entire animal with reverence and respect.
Last night we hit Cochon 555 at Pier 60, with local chefs Missy Robbins (A Voce), Leah Cohen (Pig & Khao), Alex Guarnaschelli (Butter), Shanna Pacifico (Back Forty West), Elizabeth Faulkner (Krescendo), and Sue Torres (Suenos) providing full menus utilizing the whole hog. Each chef was given a heritage breed pig that they butchered, cured, smoked, and confited into menus highlighting their personal styles.
While a healthy crowd toured their way through the tables, Sara Bigelow of The Meat Hook took apart an entire Berkshire hog from Percy Thomson Meadows in Bethlehem, Connecticut. Five wineries offered vintages that paired well with the sweet and salty pork dishes, and a friendly "Punch Kings" competition brought Breckenridge Bourbon Whiskey to center stage. A bourbon bar, cheese bar, and Chupito bar made sure that there was plenty to feast upon and imbibe.
While all chefs brought stellar plates (way above and beyond what you normally get for your buck at tasting events), Missy Robbins' team from A Voce took home first prize. Her Italian-focused menu incorporated pine nuts, dried grapes, whipped cotechino, and, of course, pasta to win over the crowd.
For a sampling of what we barreled through, click on the slideshow above.