The Back Story:
I’ve recently learned about a foodie site that is every foodie’s wet dream. I’m sorry, I’ve had that thought from the first day I landed on the site (Iron Foodie), but was trying to avoid being crass. The truth is, its fantasy land! I just saw they have an entry-level position open, I’m considering it. Not really, but if I had no responsibilities I totally would.
So, I’ve been glued to the website, reading old posts and such and then I found it. A post about no ordinary pork or pig. A post about sublime cured meat. A post asserting this ham was touted as the MacDaddy of hams. A post offering to share some of this goodness if one asked for it. So, I begged for it. And you know what? My Mami was right, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. And I GOT. I got it good! Shoulder is what I got.
The Mangalitsa Experience:
A few days later, I received my happy box in the mail. And this is what I saw after opening it. Ain’t she a beauty?
Let me tell you, they ain’t lyin’. This ham is sinfully delicious. I’ve had Jamón Ibérico and Prosciutto and I love them both, though I do prefer Ibérico over its Italian counterpart. But this baby. This baby’s got some mad skillz! Hold on, let me slice another nibble so I can properly describe it.
Very smoky. Salty with a mild sweetness. The meat is firm, like you would find in bacon and that fat. Oh boy. That’s where it is. It’s no wonder the fatty bits were considered the best sacrificial offerings.
Cooking with Mangalitsa:
Now I was tasked with cooking up a dish featuring the ham. So, as I reinvented turkey related meals, I kept thinking about this little piggy too. I had several thoughts, and I will bring at least one other one to fruition, but this one was incredibly simple AND delicious. And here it is.
Mangalitsa Crusted Halibut with Melted Cabbage & Fennel
For the Mangalitsa Crusted Halibut:
Thin slices of mangalitsa ham
2 halibut steaks
Freshly ground pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Note on substitutions: If you can’t get your hands on Mangalitsa, Ibérico would be a wonderful sub, in its absence, prosciutto would work, but try to find a fatty one. As for the fish, I wanted a meaty fish, cod or even tuna would work beautifully here.
Season the halibut steaks with salt, pepper and garlic. Wrap the mangalitsa around the steaks, try to keep the fatty parts on the surface–you don’t want the meaty sections to dry out while pan-frying.
Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat, until it smokes. Add a swirl of olive oil to the bottom of the pan and gently place the halibut into the pan to begin crisping the ham and cooking the fish.
After about 3-4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, flip them over to brown the other side. Cook them for another 3 minutes, then add about 3 tablespoons of sherry, let it bubble up and cover for about 2 minutes. Remove the lid and turn off the heat, then drop 1 tablespoon of cold butter. Swirl it around until it melts, drizzle over the fish when serving.
Melted Cabbage & Fennel:
1 Savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1/2 cp Mangalitsa ham, diced
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
In a medium skillet, heat up about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then add the ham to brown and render some fat. Cook for about 5 minutes, making sure to stir it to avoid burning.
Add the sliced cabbage and fennel right over the ham. Cover for a few minutes to give them chance to wilt down. Once it wilts, it will be easier to stir into the ham. Continue cooking over medium-low heat until the cabbage and fennel seem to disintegrate, about 15 minutes.
Adjust the seasoning with salt & pepper, add 1 tablespoon of butter and serve under the fish.
To see more Mangalitsa love shots, follow this link to my photostream. Cookingly yours,