Pork bellies are an intensely flavorful cut that is traditionally braised, slow roasted, or cured/smoked to make bacon. These belly slices are cut from Mangalitsa pork, an old-world heritage variety prized for its rich, buttery fat. They are sold with the skin on.
This Mangalitsa pork is from pigs raised free range on pastures year round with access to feed, fresh water and run-in shelters. They graze on chicory, clover and varieties of local nuts. They are finished on a barley mixture for a minimum of 60 days.
Mangalitsa Pork: Buttery, Rich, Moist
Mangalitsa pigs (aka mangalica pigs) are a “lard-type” heritage breed. Because of their unique wooly appearance, they are sometimes also referred to as “wooly pigs.
While almost all other pig breeds raised in America are “meat-type” breeds that have been bred since World War 2 to be leaner and leaner with each generation (their meat progressively getting dryer and less flavorful), Mangalitsas have remained essentially the same since the breed with first developed in Hungary in 1833. They require nearly twice as much time, pasture and feed as conventional pork, which contributes to their price and is why they’re so rarely raised on American farms.
The extra time, space and expense is worth it - Mangalitsa pork is extremely well marbled (often with more than double the marbling of conventional pork), with smooth fat that is both buttery and cleaner tasting. Mangalitsa’s flavor is far superior to mainstream pork and it is also much less likely to dry out.
The Mangalitsa breed, when raised free range with quality feed as these pigs have been, produces fat that is primarily monounsaturated and higher in oleic acid. This means it melts at lower temperatures for a rich, moist result in cooking, and also cures far better than conventional pork. Consumption of monounsaturated fats may also be associated with a decrease in certain types of cholesterol.