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Cochon 555; 5 Chef's, 5 Pigs, 5 Wines

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
COCHON 555: 5 Chefs, 5 Pigs, 5 Winemakers in a friendly competition...

5 Chef's will prepare 5 pigs, from head to toe, in competition cooking for 200 people with 5 wines. Yum! I wonder who the 5 chefs will be for the Chicago competition? Chef Paul Kahan comes to mind first.


How wonderful this sounds. I'm going to try and go if/when the tickets go on sale for the Chicago area. I've first got to see if I'm going to off that day :o

dan
post #2 of 17
it would be interesting to see how much time the chefs have to breakdown, prep and cook the pig.....most of the tastiest preparations need alot of time....
Something with head, the jowls or cheeks.....cooking the whole head and making a pate just takes time

shoulder, personal favorite part of piggy.....again takes time

ribs

loin, this can be cooked quickly

liver, kidneys, heart.... obviously offal would be an important part....stomach is not typically apart of a butchered pig

Belly, takes hours

Backfat, can be rendered ditto leaf lard.....I guess if you grind it and cook it in a shallow pan it'd render more quickly. Chill over ice bath....then you'd have fat for baking.

ham....sausage comes to mind with some of the fat from the back

Feet....well for gelitan it'll take time to cook these, or even stuffed crubins or French cut and cooked all take time.

To best utilize a pig, it makes sense to fry something in the fat possibly skin or cracklins, render leaf for baking, make something with head/offal/belly, something braised, something searred.....a sauce using roasted bones.....
possibly a sausage.....

Too fun. I hope one of you from Chicago will get good info/notes on what's made....
cooking with all your senses.....
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post #3 of 17
I'm sure stomach is used in Chinese cooking. I'll ask my mom.
post #4 of 17
ooops, I read Cochon 555, the chefs will have a 70# piglet....there will not be that much fat on the pigs. This was not setup as a sustainable gig, which is disappointing....it would be a bigger challenge and make more sense to have a pig closer to 300#, which is the typical size butchered. Promoting the use of younger pigs does not make sense for farmers. It takes time for gestation, there's more of a chance of death in the farrow barns, getting them to shoat level takes alot of energy. Economically bigger pigs make more sense. JMTC. There is essentially no depth of belly with little pigs, nor development of loins, marbling will be minimal....
wonder what the thought process was in picking 70# shoats?
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post #5 of 17
What good is a pig without its fat? :D
post #6 of 17
well yeah....crazy huh?:crazy:
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post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
uh oh! Shroomgirl, you just took the wind out of my sails. I didn't notice it was five piglets. I'm still going to try and go...but this is definitely a downer:(

dan
post #8 of 17
If this is set up as an educational gig, not only to stretch chefs into utilizing whole pigs, donating monies to farm education projects....using small family farm some heirloom pigs....
Then it would make more sense to breakdown whole large animals and divey up pieces to different chefs. Or come up with a way to have each of these chefs take a course and utilize different parts of the pig. ie....one make pate de tete or make guanciale or roll up boneless head into tongue n' cheek pucks. One take the skin and make cracklins' or pate..... One get the feet,
one the offal/belly, one the ham, one the loin.....then of course gorgeous leaf lard. It would be a challenge for many chefs to use some of these base products you can only get off a whole critter. Very hard to find leaf lard if you aren't pulling it off a pig. Well, skin too.

Anyone know the people that are putting these events on all around the country?

It'd be cool to have recipes, photos, info on what's made in each space.
JMTC
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post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
The Taste Network is putting these events on.



I sent them an e-mail today asking for some more information on the Chicago event, and also why they would choose the piglets. I think this is the first year holding the event...but it does seem like they could have a unique opportunity to pass along some knowledge to consumers.

If there are more consumers who are educated in the field of pork products this may drive the farmers to supply this demand. But without the demand???

dan
post #10 of 17
70# dressed out is a pretty good weight for a whole pig to be cooked in any one of a number of barbecue techniques. Couchon au lait is a good one. Some others are laid out in the smoker racer style; butterflied and wired (wide smoker), and so on. The biggest pig I can handle in my little smoker is something under 50#, dressed; although it would stretch the convenience so much, the largest I've done is around 35#, racer style. A piglet that size feeds about 15 to 20 people, with significant leftovers.

70# is too big for a suckling, but is very sweet eating. A 35 pound pig is practically perfect in every way. Just like Mary Poppins.

I used to do larger ones occasionally when I catered (back in the day), and have done more than a few of the small-offset size over the years. Well worth the trouble every couple of years or so. Ditto with kids and lambs. One whole animal is pretty much the same as another when it comes to the challenges involved and the techniques (and muscle) required to overcome them.

Mary B. certainly has a great deal to add to this; and so does Nicko (lamb).

You'd be surprised at how (relatively) quickly you can cook a small animal -- which probably has something to do with the size chosen given the nature of the event. Three or four hours is all it takes. The limiting factor isn't the weight of the animal, it's the thickness of the meat. Also, I certainly wouldn't be surprised if a "Caja China" was part of the equation for some (or all) of the chefs. They do a decent job of mimicking covered hole-in-the-ground cooking without digging up the backyard; but not smoky enough for my tastes.

BDL
post #11 of 17
$125, 5 course pig dinner featuring numerous chefs each cooking a 70# shoat.....does not read like a BBQ or couchon d' lait. It is a competition on using the whole piggy.

It'll take alot of co-ordination to organize these events throughout the USA.

Most farmers around here won't butcher small piggies, or they will charge you the same amount they'd charge for a pig 3x+ that weight.
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post #12 of 17
this looks interesting... oh, i clicked because of the 555 thing:lol:
post #13 of 17
The methods I mentioned, including couchon au lait are whole pig. Indeed, that's the point. The best whole pigs I ever had were in Spain, in Salamanca and Madrid. How those pigs might be distinguished from "barbecue," I have no idea. They were both cooked in ovens fed by open oak fires which definitely kissed the pig with smoke.

A whole pig is a large thing. Even one as small as 35#, the size with which I have most familiarity. A 70# pig won't fit in an ordinary oven, commercial or otherwise. In order to cook the pig, chefs are limited to things like "Caja China;" actual pits both open and closed; smokers, both cabinet and offset; and suspending the pig on a rack over a fire (couchon au lait). FWIW, I'm not claiming my list is complete. Nevertheless, it's a fairly representative sample of the ways available to cook a whole pig; and all of them fit within the term "barbecue," at least as I use it.

BDL
post #14 of 17
sorry wasn't using clear verbage.....by using the whole pig, i meant using parts of it it different applications not cooking it whole. Wouldn't that make more since in a fine dining competition? it's more interesting to see how a chef thinks out piggy parts.

The commercial deck oven I've used would hold a whole critter....probably up to 125-150#....finding a pan to fit it would be the bigger issue.
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post #15 of 17
Hmm. A pig competition in which contestants are allowed to butcher the pig into separate and distinct cuts holds little interest for me. Not as a contest, anyway. With each chef presenting (perhaps) 10 dishes, how would you judge? On the other hand, all those different preparations and presentations would certainly be interesting from the standpoint of watching other people work.

I've done 150 pounders. Depending on breed, 150# pig, head on, racer style (crouched with front and rear legs folded, upper legs forward and lower legs back) would probably be in excess of four feet, and almost another foot or so longer, if semi-racer style (rear legs spread and pulled back which helps the hams cook faster). If you've got a deck big enough to handle a whole pig, that's some deck. Also, pig isn't usually cooked on a deck but on a rack or a roti. So your oven needs significant height and depth as well. Big pig ovens are usually custom one-offs, or at least semi-custom.

The guys I know from barbecue specializing in pig roasts, have custom rigs to a man. You can certainly do one in a "Chinese Box," aka "Caja China," but I'm not partial to the method, nor to the underground and covered with burlap and a steel plate method it mimics. I prefer fire underneath and fire to the side much better than fire over. I feel a pig should always have at least a little smoke.

BDL
post #16 of 17
The only whole pig I have ever done was over an open concrete block pit with the pig trussed in some chicken wire fence for flipping. Great way to cook and get some smoke to the meat. I burnt oak in a separate fire pit and shoveled coals under the pig. Was an 80 pounder and turned out quite well.
post #17 of 17
Goes back to the mission statement of the group hosting it......if a big part of it is teaching people (essentially the chefs then those that follow the chefs) how to utilize the whole pig having them breakdown a pig is for many a new or novel experience.....using ALL the pig is for many a learning challenge.

Out of all the chefs in STL there are probably not more than a couple of dozen professionally cooking that have broken down whole pigs.....even less that do it on a regular basis. And we raise a whole lotta pig in MO.

One of my chef buddies got married on his father in law's farm in Illinois and had two approx 100# pigs cooking in the caja boxes.....really exceptional pork.

Yep, 1950 deck ovens are huge.....and unfortunately for my arms they get hot on the outside as well as the inside.
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