The History Of The Large Black Hog Breed aka Devon, Cornwall And Lop Eared Black:
The origins of the Large Black strain have been traced to Devon, Cornwall, Suffolk and Essex with historical antecedents stretching back to the Old English Hog of the 16th and 17th centuries. Merry old England has a long and storied history of bacon love and this breed is famous for producing some of the best. In 1899 the Breed Society For The Large Black was established and a more liberal breeding exchange was wrought between the far-flung counties. This created more uniformity in the somewhat different aspects of the breed as witnessed by the short-bodied hogs of Western England and the longer framed pigs to the east.
Farmers coming together for the betterment of bacon.
Some of these pigs made their way to New Zealand where The Wanganui Herald in 1902, noted “A novelty in the shape of a large black Devon boar, said to be the only one of the kind in the colony” was shown at a regional agricultural show.
The Large Black was eventually exported to the United States-the earliest historical record we found was of their importation to Kentucky in 1910- as well as other countries including Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, Tasmania and South Africa.
In Lexington, Kentucky a National Large Black Pig Association under secretary JF Cook was founded but attracted little acclaim
In 1949, the Large Black Pig Society (founded in 1898 at the Smithfield Show in London) merged with what would eventually be known as the British Pig Association. You could easily spend a few hours reading through their website as it’s a vast treasure trove of pig arcana.
The Rare Breeds Survival Trust was founded in 1973 as numbers of all traditional pig breeds (Berkshire, British Saddleback, Gloucestershire Old Spots, Large Black, Middle White and Tamworth) were dangerously low, with some already being extinct. The Large Black was placed on the Trust’s endangered list.
Love and cherish these pigs as The Cumberland, The Dorset Gold Tip, The Yorkshire Blue and White and the Lincolnshire Curly Coat have been lost forever.
In 1985 with the Large Black numbers in USA at critically low levels, Ag-World Exports of Bloomington, Illinois brought in a number of fresh stock for domestic breeders. This drove is the foundation for the modern state of the Large Black in USA.
During our studies we found a few breeders of heritage pork in the Central Texas region. We located Ossabaw, Duroc, Berkshire and Large Black among other breeds. With the Austin region’s unending search for deliciousness, and love of local foods we expect the number of farmers raising heritage meats to only rise.
Now we begin the lengthy process of figuring out how to best honor this creature we’ll be taking delivery of. We plan on using the belly, the loin, the shoulder, the kidneys, the heart, the liver etc. We don’t want one precious ounce of this beast going to waste.
We’re consulting with fellow chefs, poring through our antique cookbooks, and peering into the dustiest, most poorly-maintained corners of the internet, as well as establishing dialogues with experts who have cooked with Large Black heritage pork in the past.
It’s time to gather the cooking crew together, write the menu and start hitting the farmer’s markets to figure out what we’ll be serving at Scrumptious Chef Pop Up Restaurant Event No. 8: Heritage Pork.
nice little mini guide to some heritage pork breeds http://nymag.com/restaurants/features/70096/
After a week of heavy lifting we finally got our Large Black breed, heritage pork allotment secured for our February pop up restaurant event at Tamale House East.
We were frantically emailing and calling all the Central Texas hog farmers that are working in the heritage pork sphere as we continue our fundamental mission: serving the highest quality foods available to us.
To accomplish this we’re slowly improving our sourcing; following the lead of men like Bryce Gilmore of Odd Duck whose farm to trailer philosophy has led many chefs down the same path.