Story by Sarah Murphy Robertson
There are only six breeds of pig considered heritage and one is being pasture raised just an hour’s drive north of us in Bonifay, Florida on Twin Oaks Farm. Heritage pork’s flavor is deep and rich and reflects a long history of pigs being raised in the field, in nature. Chef Kevin Korman of Caliza in Alys Beach was gracious enough to let us visit and watch the process of breaking down and butchering the pork that will very soon grace their menu in a celebrated combination of ways.
The pork, known as Cochon Noir de Bonifay comes from a rare heritage breed that produces very tender meat. As we mentioned, Twin Oaks Farm’s pork is organic and raised on pasture. Pastured pork means it comes from pigs that live in the way they would if left to their own devices: free to move around and forage. Twin Oaks Farms supplements the pigs’ diets with a soy-free certified organic feed and they are also fed the odds and ends from their vegetable harvests.
Chef Kevin has been communicating and collaborating with Twin Oaks Farm’s Renee Savary for nearly a year about this acquisition. “People have forgotten where our food comes from,” he observed. Being able to actually serve farm to table locally raised pork is an honor and a thrill for this chef.
Watching Chef Kevin first make the primal cuts and then map out the puzzle of butchering the pork was fascinating. Many times we are accustomed to seeing proteins in the meat department prepackaged. “There’s not really a set way to do this.” Chef clarified. “It’s up to interpretation and based on how ultimately we want to prepare each cut.”
Chef Kevin has been brainstorming various creative preparations and making notes on how to highlight this premium protein. He aims to use this pork to create familiar yet new dishes that will truly feature the meat. “Pork has a wonderful neutral flavor which lends itself to lots of creativity” he explained. He plans to utilize everything including the fat for house made sausage. He will employ many methods when using this pork in their dishes including braising, roasting, smoking and even ideas for doing some portions sous vide. Chef will also render the fat and “confit” the pork, or slowly poach it in the fat until tender; much like one would traditionally with duck.
The Caliza staff are well-versed in Twin Oaks Farm’s organic practices and the impressive backstory of this Cochon Noir de Bonifay pork. Chef mused that they are lucky to have well-traveled clientele eager to try new things and he is confident guests will savor the many ways this heritage pork will influence their menu.
Chef Kevin’s enthusiasm for this unique, quality protein and his reverence for the process of butchering the meat were a pleasure to witness. Keep an eye out for this delicious local product masterfully offered in a myriad of ways at Caliza.