Want to buy a pig?
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These are Berkshire pigs, eating organic acorns in a pasture outside Dyersville, Iowa. And if you have $3,285 burning a hole in your pocket, you can buy one of them from the prosciutto makers at La Quercia. Your very own pig will yield about 35 pounds of organic fresh pork ribs, trim for sausage and tenderloin, plus 100 pounds of La Quercia-cured guanciale (cured jowl), pancetta, lardo (Italian-style fatback), coppa, spallacia (front leg, cured prosciutto-style) and bone-in whole-leg prosciutto -- which will arrive on your doorstep after the year and a half (approximately) it takes to cure it. Whether you know what to do with it or not, you also get leaf lard, caul fat and offal. Among the serious foodies who have already bought their pigs are wine critic Robert Parker, chefs Daniel Boulud, Chris Bianco, Paul Kahan and Mario Batali -- who, wouldn’t you know it, bought two. There are still some pigs left (there were 50 total), so if you want one, hurry.
The pigs are the first group raised by La Quercia and organic pig farmer Jude Becker, who raises the Berkshires that La Quercia uses for its La Quercia Rossa prosciutto. Last summer when I went to Iowa to profile prosciutto makers Herb and Kathy Eckhouse, they told me about their plan to start finishing the Berkshires’ feeding with acorns, the way it’s done in Spain to produce the famed jamón ibérico. Herb says the pigs are happily munching on acorns; harvest date is set for Dec. 5. So that means acorn-finished Berkshire prosciutto sometime in the summer of 2009.
La Quercia, 400 Hakes Drive, Norwalk, Iowa. (515) 981-1625. www.laquercia.us.
-- Amy Scattergood