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With a fine-dining restaurant that has enjoyed a 60-year history in west Michigan (Duba’s Restaurant), we know–and are passionate about–food.
So when it comes to our hardwood smoked hams, we begin with a fabled (and very rare) breed of pork, renowned in the culinary word for its flavor, and whose history reads like something out of Jurassic Park…
East of Australia in the clear, blue, iridescent waters of the Pacific Ocean, lies the island of New Caledonia. It is from this sequestered region of the world–but a blip on the nautical map–that experts believe the Red Wattle hog originated.
Red Wattle hogs, so-named for the quirky appendages that dangle from either side of their jowls, made their way aboard wooden ships to the New World in the 1700s and 1800s where they were raised by the New Orleaneans who were enthralled by their taste. Remember, folks, these are the French: the very people who set the gold-standard for all things culinary. Then, suddenly, the breed disappeared; many feared its extinction.
In the 1970s, a most unlikely find: the benign creatures were re-discovered rooting and wandering in woodlands of eastern Texas. Here is where I image the scene from Jurassic Park: Drs. Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler behold–for the first time–brontosaurs gulping down leaves from towering trees.
Though it’s unlikely you’ve ever heard of them until now, Red Wattle is making a splash in the culinary world. Just yesterday, in fact, this note came from a chef in West Michigan, trying Red Wattle for the first time:
Had a chance to try these today and they [are] fantastic. We did a side by side with our current chop which had the benefit of an overnight apple cider brine and the red wattle was better as is.
Our Red Wattle pork are raised especially for Duba & Co. by Idle River Farms (Burlington, MI) on GMO-free feed, ground by the farm itself. Idle River is a small, family-run operation. The hogs are given permanent access to the outdoors and can be found rooting amongst the pasture grasses during the growing season.
While we may never know what a brontosaur tastes like, you can enjoy the historic flavor of Red Wattle pork: nutty–almost beefy, at times–and with a hint of the sea (considering an origin on the island of New Caledonia, perhaps we’re tasting something of the Pacific Ocean in every bite of this exotic breed).