Sky Full of Bacon

Sky Full of Bacon 05: There Will Be Pork (Pt. 1)

“Convey[s] the downright decency of all parties involved with a directness that’s difficult to achieve in prose. Listening to farmer Linda Derrickson talk from the heart about honoring and giving thanks for the happy lives of pigs is worth at least 100 pages of The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” —Martha Bayne

The phrase “farm to table” is used a lot in foodie circles. In this Sky Full of Bacon two-part podcast, I’ll show you what it really means— from the farm to the slaughterhouse to the kitchens of five of Chicago’s top restaurants.

Sky Full of Bacon 05: There Will Be Pork (pt. 1) from Michael Gebert on Vimeo.

Mike Sula of the Chicago Reader has been writing about the rare mulefoot pig for the last year and a half. Now the Reader has enlisted award-winning chef Paul Kahan, of Chicago’s Blackbird, to plan an elaborate six-course dinner showcasing the meat of these pigs and the sustainable, humane way in which they’re raised. Kahan in turn recruited chefs Jason Hammel (Lula Cafe), Paul Virant (Vie), Brian Huston (the newly opened The Publican) and Justin Large (Avec), as well as Blackbird executive chef Mike Sheerin and dessert chef Tim Dahl, to each prepare a course utilizing different parts of the whole animal.

But no meal begins with the restaurant. In Part 1, Mike Sula and I visit the farmers who’ve raised these mulefoot pigs in southern Wisconsin, and consider the paradox of why eating an endangered pig breed could be the key to saving it. And as preparations for the meal get underway, we talk to Huston and Virant about why raising pork humanely from farmers you know and using the whole animal matters to them. (Warning: video does contain vivid footage of meatcutting.) It’s an epic tale with as much meat (pun unavoidable) as two or three Sky Full of Bacon podcasts, which is why it’s broken into two parts, the first of which runs 19:57.  Next week, in Part 2, we’ll complete the story.

Mike Sula’s account of the same events
Recipes from the dinner
The Chicago Reader’s complete “Whole Hog Project” archive
LTHforum posts on the dinner, and Chuck Sudo’s account at Chicagoist

About Sky Full of Bacon
Sky Full of Bacon #4: A Head’s Tale
Sky Full of Bacon #3: The Last Brisket Show
Sky Full of Bacon #2: Duck School
Sky Full of Bacon #1: How Local Can You Go?

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