So, why do the large blacks taste so good? I think it’s because they are a heritage breed, created when farmers bred for taste first and foremost. After all, the breeder was his own primary customer. When you don’t eat your own pork, you don’t really care what it tastes like. Commercial hog farmers who sell thousands of pigs a year think only of raising the most “protein units” at the lowest cost and in the fastest time possible and that calls for a much different breed of pig.
The large black is a darker pork with a short muscle fiber that makes it more tender. Also, studies have shown that the more high strung an animal’s temperament, the more likely his meat will be tainted (an off taste) from stress hormones. This easy going breed can be led to the trailer and walked into the packing plant without getting all worked up. A low stressed animal is always going to be healthier, easier to raise, and easier to handle.
Probably the biggest factor though is the fat. Although they are not a lard pig, Large Black Hogs most certainly do have fat. Their fat is micro-marbled throughout the meat which gives it the ability to self baste as it cooks, keeping it moist and flavorful on the grill or in the oven. The texture of the pork is extra tender due to the short muscle fibers which has earned it a place in some of the most exclusive restaurants in New York and Europe. The meat is slightly darker in color with an old world flavor. Large Black Hogs are also famous for their exceptional bacon. As long as the pigs are grazed, their fat is a beneficial fat just like in pasture raised poultry.
While it may seem counterintuitive to eat a rare breed to save it, it’s one of the critical components of rescuing these breeds. Without a market for these animals, farmers have no incentive to raise them.
Most heritage breeds taste better than the commercial breeds, but for my money, I’d prefer a Large Black any day.Learn more:
It's All About the Pork (Large Black Hog Association)
Grass-Fed Large Black Hogs and Good Fat (with link to podcast with Jennifer McLagan, the author of Fat: An Appreciation of A Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes.)