The National Pork Board hosted their 4th Annual Pork Summit, April 4 through April 6, at the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus in St. Helena, CA. The by-invitation-only event brings together winners from State and Regional Taste of Elegance competitions, top chefs and foodservice trade media editors for a pork-centric educational weekend.
Stephen Gerike, Director of Foodservice Marketing for the National Pork Board, welcomed guests the evening of April 4 at the Ecolab Theatre on the Greystone campus. After introductions, Gerike and renowned chef, author and sausage maker Bruce Aidells gave a butchering demonstration. They broke down two half hogs – one fabricated the traditional domestic way, and the other in the European style. Once broken down into primals, the discussion focused on the fresh leg and the many uses for leg muscles beyond ham. In addition, Gerike butchered whole bone-in and boneless loins and discussed the new nomenclature for chops.
After the butchering demonstration, guests boarded buses to Farmstead Restaurant at Long Meadow Ranch for a welcome reception. The group enjoyed hors d’oeuvres outside as the sun was setting. Hors d’oeuvres highlights included mini “knuckle” sandwiches made with cured pork knuckle, mini La Quercia ham sandwiches with fresno pepper jelly, a pig face-shaped, pimento cheese, and a charcuterie board featuring chorizo and soppressata. As the group sampled some of Farmstead’s best starters, they watched Farmstead Executive Chef Stephen Barber and his team prepare dinner in the restaurant’s designated live fire cooking area.
Tables were set up for a family-style feast in Farmstead’s shabby-chic barn. Guests tried a Long Meadow Ranch garden salad, Cajun boudin sausage with whole grain mustard, and buttery potato rolls with sea salt. The main courses were a whole-hog barbecue with vinegar sauce, St. Louis-style ribs, Delta asparagus with Bellwether Farms ricotta, and plancha-cooked fingerling potatoes with green garlic and spring onions. After dinner, everyone enjoyed house-made s’mores back at the live fire area before heading home happy and full.
Post-lunch activities kicked off with chef demonstrations and tastings of pork cooking methods. Chef Jose Enrique Montes of Restaurant Jose Enrique in San Juan, Puerto Rico and his former sous chef Pedro Alvarez, now a sausage maker and owner of Alcor in San Juan, discussed the technique of salt-curing shanks before refrigeration. This way of preserving meat was commonly practiced all over the world. Montes cures his shanks for four days, then rinses and hangs them in his walk-in for varying amounts of time – the flavor evolves the longer they age. For his demonstration dish, he simmered the shanks in water for five to six hours to create a beautifully unctuous stock. He added chickpeas, cabbage, Alvarez’s chorizo and potatoes. After topping with slices of the cured shank and a drizzle of olive oil, the final product was a perfectly balanced pork soup.
Next up was Chef Brad Farmerie of Public and Saxon + Parole in New York City, and The Thomas in Napa, CA. Farmerie takes whole-hog cooking seriously – he uses all parts of the pig and the by-product as well. He explained to attendees that pig blood can be a valuable ingredient in the kitchen, demonstrating how to make traditional British blood pudding. He mixed the blood with ground pork, back fat, cooked rice, cooked barley, oats, parsley, sage, thyme, oregano, allspice, paprika, fennel, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, cumin, bay leaf, Aleppo and Public’s curry sausage spice, then poured the mixture into loaf pans and baked it in a water bath. Farmerie uses blood pudding in innovative ways at his restaurants, and guests got to taste a popular Public brunch dish: black pudding waffles with red wine-poached pears and whipped foie gras butter. For the French boudin noir, he combined pig’s blood with ground pork, panko bread crumbs, double cream, onion, garlic, duck fat, green apple, pork back fat, curry spice and Public’s Quatre E´pices spice blend and stuffed it into salted hog casings that had been soaked overnight in cold water.
Chef and Salumist Tony Incontro of Del Dotto Winery in St. Helena, CA was the next demonstration chef. Incontro, one of the country’s most talked about charcuterie experts, demonstrated how to properly butcher a fresh leg for culatello and a shoulder for coppa while discussing the care and patience it takes to make world-class charcuterie. His enthusiasm was evident in his tasting plate of culatello, coppa and lardo, and attendees left thinking about giving the art of salumi a try at their own restaurants.
Lastly, Chef Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto in New York City demonstrated his California-style of cooking. Using ingredients he pulled from the school’s kitchen garden that morning, he focused on creating delicious pork dishes paired with bright vegetable preparations. One highlight was his contemporary take on Pork Milanese – a thinly pounded bone-in chop, dipped in egg wash and fresh breadcrumbs and pan fried. He served it with a fresh gem lettuce salad and a squeeze of lemon. He also made delicious stir-fried rice by adding medallions of fresh pork leg with eggs, ginger and sprouting cauliflower, and demonstrated an authentic Italian milk-braised rack of pork.
Inspired and thinking about pork in new ways, the guests made their way to the Rudd Center for Wine Studies, where brew master Jared Rouben taught a beer and pork pairing class. Rouben, a CIA Hyde Park graduate and Principal at Moody Tongue Brewery in Chicago, has devoted his career to crafting beers that are chef- and food-friendly. He shared his culinary perspective on beer and how chefs can add value to a diner’s overall experience by understanding how food and beer pair. Attendees tasted six beers – Bitburger Pils, Ballast Point Sculpin IPA, Brasserie Dupont Saison, Oskar Blues Old Chub, 1809 Berliner Style Weisse, and The Bruery Oude Tart, and tried pairing them with various flavor profiles such as salt-and-pepper chicharróns, pork rillettes, bacon toffee cracker jacks, pork pastrami, pork picadillo and shaved roast pork loin with lemon. The group left with a new appreciation of how beer can amplify the flavors of the kitchen.
After the beer pairing class, attendees exited to the Rudd Center Terrace where brothers and Chefs Robert Danhi and David Danhi were busy creating a street-food feast. At one station, Southeast Asian expert Robert crafted three innovative pork dishes: chopstick-grilled lemongrass pork with black pepper-caramel sauce, soy- and spice-simmered pork hocks with quail eggs and fermented mustard greens, and ginger pork puffs with crunchy tofu. At the other station, David Danhi of Grilled Cheese Truck fame was serving up three different unconventional grilled cheeses: a cheesy mac-and-rib melt, a porchetta melt with Fontina, and a pork pastrami melt with blueberry-bacon jam. Rouben made sure all of these dishes were paired with the perfect beers.
On Sunday, everyone was excited to get into the kitchen. The chefs joined together in a market basket exhibition, testing all the techniques learned throughout the weekend. Teams, made up of Taste of Elegance winning chefs and foodservice media editors, were lead by Montes/Alvarez, Farmerie, Incontro, Waxman and the Danhi brothers. With three hours to cook, each team had to break down a half hog to include in their four dishes: a breakfast sandwich, a center-of-the-plate dish using fresh leg or chops, a global sandwich and a dish of their choice. The teams rose to the challenge and served some impressive food. After all the hard work in the kitchen, everyone sat down to enjoy the meal that they had all prepared during the exercise.
From butchery and blood sausage to the perfect pork-and-beer pairings, education is the goal of the Pork Summit. After a delicious weekend, chefs and editors left St. Helena feeling inspired, with a deeper understanding of pork’s versatility and a greater appreciation for its incredible flavor.
A Conversation With
The 4th annual Pork Summit in St. Helena, CA was a feast for mind and stomach. Guests spent the weekend learning all about pork – from butchery and salumi to beverage pairings and new pork nomenclature. We spoke to winners of state and regional Taste of Elegance competitions about their experiences during the exclusive educational weekend.
Matthew Vawter, Chef de Cuisine at Fruition Restaurant in Denver, CO
His weekend highlight: the Farmstead dinner.
“The food was great, I got to meet new restaurant people, and had great conversations with other chefs and food writers. Can’t really ask for a better place to enjoy an outdoor cocktail hour eating cured meats and other pork.”On learning about the new nomenclature:
“I’ve served pork chops for the last fifteen years. To be honest, it never really crossed my mind that we have ribeye steaks, T-bones, rack of lamb, porterhouse, etc., but we’ve always just had pork chops. Stephen’s discussion on the change in terminology left me wondering, why does everyone just call them pork chops?”
Todd McDunn, Chef and Resident Director of Foodservice at Scotts Miracle-Gro Campus in Warren, OH – two-time Pork Summit attendee
On butchering a whole hog:
“I learned to butcher a whole hog during my first Pork Summit in 2011, and I’m still working on being as good as Stephan Gerike! During the Market Basket competition, I chose to work with the pig’s trotter because I had never stuffed a whole one before and wanted to learn. With a little help from Chef Tony Incontro we made an Italian-style Zampone – it turned out very nice.”
His weekend highlight and key takeaway:
“Definitely hanging out with Bruce Aidells, talking pork at the wonderful dinner at Farmstead! What a beautiful California night it was, sipping wine outside with plenty of great food and the wisps of smoke in the air from a roasting whole hog and grilling sausages. My number one key takeaway has to be the new recognition of pork names we will see with the nomenclature updates.”
On coming again:
“I would be the first one on the bus!”
Ryan Hembree, Chef at Trail Ridge Retirement Community in Sioux Falls, SD – two-time Pork Summit attendee
On his Market Basket experience:
“I spent most of my time in the outdoor cooking area. I split a head and roasted it in the wood-fired oven, smoked a whole leg, and combination cooked a belly with ribs in the smoker and then grilled them. I was on a team led by Chef Jonathan Waxman and we decided to use the richness of the belly and multiple cuts from both the head and the leg in our dishes.”
On learning how to break down a fresh pork leg:
“I was excited to be reminded of all the cuts available from breaking down a fresh pork leg into separate muscles. I am currently using leg cutlets, making a mini pit ham and pork pastrami in-house. I am finding some really great ways to utilize the other muscles – the top round is good for marinating and grilling and makes a great roast as well; the eye of round for grilling and stir frying. I’ve also had good luck brining a bottom round as an alternative for boneless chops.”
On his Pork Summit experience:
“The wealth of knowledge that Pork Summit provides is almost overwhelming. The chef demos, the butchery, and the networking with fellow chefs all in the beautiful setting of Napa Valley was truly an amazing experience.”
Nate Weida, Sous Chef at Savory Grille in Macungie, PA – two-time Pork Summit attendee
On his Pork Summit experience:
“To name any one favorite highlight from the weekend would be unfair. From Pork 101 with Stephen Gerike to beer tasting and pairing with Jared Rouben, the presentations were not only educational, but also motivating – especially Tony Incontro, who shared his knowledge of curing pork. It’s an amazing experience that every chef who gives a damn about the pig should experience. This was my second Pork Summit and it was just as good, if not better, than the first. I would attend every year if permitted.”
Michael Priola, Chef at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa, FL
On the Market Basket exercise:
“I used pork tongue, because I wanted to cook a part of the pig that is used less often than other parts. Working with Chef Jose Enrique, we decided to incorporate the brined and smoked tongue into a chilaquiles dish.”
On his Pork Summit experience:
“Picking a favorite part is hard, because it was all very wonderful – from the warm welcome to each activity. But my key takeaway was the use of pig’s blood by Brad Farmerie to make a Blood Pudding Terrine. I would definitely enjoy the chance to come again.”
Boudin NoirPrint Recipe
Special EquipmentDisposable pastry piping bags ,
Towel-lined pot ,
Drop top that fits into the pot ,
Sausage funnel ,
Boudin Noir100 grams panko bread crumbs,
200 grams double heavy cream,
700 grams onion, finely chopped
12 grams garlic, minced
120 grams duck fat,
280 grams green apple, peeled and fine diced
1/2 cup dark rum,
300 grams lean pork scraps, ground
500 grams pork fatback, skin removed and fine diced
2 1/2 TBL salt,
2 teaspoons ground black pepper,
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg,
1/2 teaspoon public blend Quatre-Epices,
2 1/4 teaspoon dry porcini powder,
1 1/4 teaspoon mild curry powder,
920 grams pigs blood,
Salted hog casing, soaked overnight in cold water
Hot brown chicken stock,
Public Blend Quatre Epices4 grams black pepper,
2 grams cinnamon,
4 grams clove,
5 grams ground ginger,
4 blades star anise,
2 green cardamom pods, (just the seeds inside)
- Combine all of the ingredients in a spice grinder and process to a fine powder
- Combine the panko and double cream in a mixing bowl and set aside.
- Place the onion and garlic in a sauté pan with half (60g) of the duck fat. Slowly, over low heat, cook them until very soft and trans-lucent. Set aside to cool in refrigerator.
- Separately, add the other half of the duck fat (60g) to a sauté pan and place on high heat. Add the diced green apple and cook over high heat until golden and soft (about 3 minutes). Deglaze the pan with the dark rum, cook out until dry, and set aside until cool in refrigerator.
- In a mixing bowl combine all the ingredients except the blood.
- Add the cooked apple, the cooked onion/garlic, the ground meat, the fatback, the panko/cream mix, and all the spices. Add the blood and stir to combine, mixing thoroughly. Refrigerate for 10 minutes to thicken slightly.
- Stretch the hog casing over the sausage funnel and tie a knot in the end. Pour the sausage mix into a disposable piping bag. Place the piping bag into the sausage funnel and cut the tip off, squeezing the mix into the casing, making sure there are no air bubbles in the sausage or twists in the casing. Empty the contents of the piping bag into the hog casing. Do not tie the other end of the casing until you have twisted the sausage into links; this will allow air to escape and allow you to better regulate the compression of the final sausages. Twist into sausages, alternating direction of twists to make 18 firm sausages. You must work quickly as the casing is porous and blood can slowly leak from within.
- Pick up the circle of sausages and place them in a pot lined with a towel, cover with a drop top, and pour the hot brown chicken stock over top. Poach with a drop cover over low heat (liquid temperature around 200F) for about 25 minutes, or until the color has changed to a dull brownish black and the sausages are firm (looking for an internal temperature of 165F). Do not allow the liquid to boil. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the boudin to cool in the cooking liquid. When the sausages are sufficiently cool re- move from the liquid and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- To serve-cook slowly (lightly pricked and 10 minutes in the oven) in duck fat until skin is crispy. Cool for 2 minutes before serving.
Quatre Épices is a classic spice blend that finds its way into many recipes for terrines, sausages, and stews, so take the time to make a batch to have on the shelf. You’ll notice that my recipe for quatre épices, or "four spices," appears to have a few too many ingredients but it will taste that much better.
Cured Pork Shank and Chorizo StewPrint Recipe
IngredientsSalt-cured pork shanks, as needed
Water , to cover
As needed chickpeas,
As needed cabbage, shaved
As needed Spanish chorizo, grilled, sliced
As needed potatoes, small dice
As needed olive oil,
- Cure pork shanks for four days, then rinse and hang them in a walk-in for varying amounts of time – the flavor evolves the longer they age
- Simmer shanks in water for five to six hours to create a beautifully unctuous stock, remove shanks and set aside
- Strain stock
- Add chickpeas, cabbage, chorizo and potatoes to strained stock, simmer until tender
- Season to taste
- Ladle stew into bowl and top with slices of the cured shank and a drizzle of olive oil
Black PuddingPrint Recipe
Ingredients2 TBL duck fat, (can substitute butter)
2 cups onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
50 ml Port,
680 grams New Zealand venison, (can substitute ground pork)
250 grams pork back fat, cut into a small dice
3 cup pork blood,
3/4 cup cooked rice,
3/4 cup cooked barley,
1/2 cup oats,
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh sage, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice,
1 teaspoon Public curry sausage spice, (can substitute mild curry powder)
2 teaspoons black pepper,
1 TBL smoked paprika,
2 TBL salt,
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, toasted and ground
1 teaspoon coriander seed, toasted and ground
2 teaspoons white mustard seed, toasted and ground
1 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted and ground
1 bay leaf, crumbled
1 teaspoon Aleppo, (sun dried Syrian chili pepper)
- Combine the onions, garlic, and duck fat in a sauté pan and sweat over low heat until very soft.
- Raise to high heat and when pan is hot add port. Cook off alcohol and continue cooking until almost dry.
- Cool completely.
- Whisk the eggs in a large bowl and add all other ingredients (don’t forget onion/garlic/duck fat mix).
- Use a gloved hand to break up ingredients. Stir 8-10 minutes to make sure it is well combined and thickened.
- Place in 2 lined terrine molds, folding the plastic wrap over the top. Cover with 3 layers of foil and place in a hotel pan.
- Add boiling water to the hotel pan half way up the terrine.
- Cover the whole hotel pan with foil and bake at 325° until internal temperature of 155° is reached (about 1 hour).
- Refrigerate overnight, then slice ½ inch thick and crisp in a pan with hot duck fat.
Makes 2 terrines = 40 slices
This is a simple sausage with training wheels- easy to make yet yielding heaps of praise from those who indulge in its rich deliciousness, especially when paired with a poached egg, grilled scallops, or roasted sweet potato. Enjoy!!
At Public in NYC Chef Brad Farmerie serves Black Pudding Waffles with red wine poached pears and whipped foie gras butter.