To buy a fat pig

I went to the University District Farmers Market and came home with two choice porky specimens.

The first was bacon from Wooly Pigs, a local producer of extremely high-quality pork from strange-looking Mangalitsa hogs [edit: not yet; see the owner’s comment below]. They had free bacon samples cooking in an electric skillet, and the proprietor practically forced me and another customer to try dipping a crust of bread in the bacon fat, which was predictably fabulous. (I guess I didn’t require much forcing.) Wooly Pigs supplies pork to the French Laundry and a number of top Seattle restaurants. Their prices are about five times what you’d pay for supermarket pork, so today I just picked up a pound of bacon, but I will try a couple of chops next time they have them in stock.

Then I stopped at Pies by Jenny and bought a small pork pie. This was made with a chile verde filling–tomatillos, green chiles, chunks of pork, and hominy. The pie was frozen, unbaked, and it took about 75 minutes in the oven, but it was a great lunch–sturdy but flaky pastry, tart stew of a filling.

Pies by Jenny also has sweet pies, but I was shopping alone, and I could never choose a sweet pie over a pork pie.

13 thoughts on “To buy a fat pig

  1. John Eddy

    Out of curiousity, do you normally get Skagit River Ranch’s bacon?

    That’s what we normally get, and the ‘new’ vendor was mildly tempting, so I’m curious to know how it compares.

    As for Jenny’s pies, we have a pork pie on deck for dinner tomorrow, but, let me tell you, the Mole Chicken pie as to die for…

  2. mamster Post author

    Hi, John. My favorite bacon is still Nueske’s, from Wisconsin, but I do like Skagit. It was a tough choice between the pork and chicken pies, but I guess I was in pork mode.

  3. Kimberly

    I was on a tight schedule at the market yesterday, and I missed Wooly Pigs. I don’t buy bacon often (though I really like Skagit’s), but I’ll make sure to find them next week. I have one of Jenny’s pork pies in the oven right now. We tried one of her small apple pies last week; it had a nice flavor, but the apples were sliced thinner and cooked softer than I prefer.

  4. Heath Putnam

    My wife and I own Wooly Pigs. We are tickled pink that we got noticed. Mamster, please introduce yourself next time.

    We’ll be at the U-District Farmers Market all winter!

    There is a misconception about the pork we are selling. We aren’t selling any Mangalitsa at the market yet. The earliest we’d do that would be in January. Although we are the only folks in the USA with Mangalitsa pigs (“Wollschweine” in German), and our name is “Wooly Pigs”, we’ve got non-Mangalitsa too.

    Right now we are selling pork from our free-range, year-old Berkshire hogs, fattened on barley and wheat and given fresh hay.

    Those hogs have been finished according to the Austrian system of producing hogs for the best cured products. There’s more on that here –

    If anyone eats any bacon in the USA that tastes better than our stuff, I’d like to know about it. Our goal is to produce the best.

  5. mamster Post author

    Hi, Heath, thanks very much for the comment and the correction. I look forward to trying the bacon this week.

  6. Heath Putnam


    Please don’t overcook the bacon. If you do, the meat can get tough.

    I would guess that’s true of all bacon – but I really notice the difference with ours. When I overcook our bacon (as I did sometimes yesterday), it doesn’t taste nearly as good as when properly cooked.

    I’ve heard the same thing about good grass-finished beef. If you overcook it, you can really ruin it.

  7. Andrew


    How did the pork prices compare to skagit river ranch?

    How did the bacon compare to Nueske’s? I tend to like Nueske’s for certain applications due to it’s heavy smoky flavor and thinner cut. But for eating straight, I like a thicker cut.

  8. mamster Post author

    The pork is more expensive than Skagit, but I don’t remember how much more exactly. The bacon was $16/pound.

    I had some of the bacon tonight and quite enjoyed it. It is thicker than Nueske’s and not as smoky. It’s hard to get it at all crispy without, as Heath warned, overcooking it, but if you like a thick, chewy bacon, this one has superb flavor.

  9. Heath Putnam


    I hope you ate the bacon’s fat!

    The “fat trimmers” of the world shouldn’t buy our bacon. They’d probably do better with our ham, which is much leaner.

    Did you use the bacon’s grease for anything? Like sauteing meat or cooking vegetables? It is a shame to waste the grease – a small amount of it can really put a dish over the top.

    For example, I use a slice of bacon to produce fat to fry a pork chop, or I dice up some ham, heat it in a small amount of bacon grease, and then eat that with brown rice.

    Please introduce yourself when you come by. We sampled a small amount of fried bread, so we can’t figure out who you were.

  10. mamster Post author

    I’ll be happy to introduce myself this week. I don’t make a habit of introducing myself because, well, who does?

    I certainly did use the bacon fat, for cooking some beans.

Comments are closed.