Traditional ham made from the Hungarian "sheep pig" comes to the United States
by Aaron Kohn in Food + Drink on 08 July 2010
Ariane Daguin, daughter of famed French foie gras specialist André Daguin, continues the family's culinary legacy (they introduced the U.S. foie gras 25 years ago) as the first to import Mangalica ham stateside. Her company, D'Artagnan sells the cured meat from the long-haired Hungarian pig to the New York region for about $80 a pound.
A fatty ham, wooly Mangalica pigs were bred to withstand harsh winters. Their long hair allows them to adapt to cold-weather climates, but has also led to their confusing nickname, "sheep pig." With a global trend toward low-fat hams, Mangalica's numbers were dwindling—until recently.
The upshot of pigs raised in open pastures, fed a particular diet of wheat, barley, corn, soybeans, sunflower and grass, and cured in Spain for two to four years by fourth generation masters, D'Artagnan's Mangalica ham is comparable to the highly-coveted Iberico ham (which is raised on chestnuts). An ultra tender and low-cholesterol protein, Mangalica ham sells online for $500 for seven pounds, or visit NYC restaurants such as Bar Boulud, Colicchio and Sons and Gotham Bar & Grill to sample it.