Cochon 555 Heritage Breed BBQ is Back! Sunday 9/27 Morgan Manufacturing
It’s back the 2nd annual Cochon Heritage Breed BBQ celebrating family farms and heritage breed pigs at Morgan Manufacturing 9/27. If you are a Beet-ster you probably have some kind of knowledge of what a heritage breed is. But there really isn’t any specific definition. The Livestock Conservancy describes heritage breeding as more an art than a science. But heritage breed is to meat, the way heirloom is to vegetables and fruits. The heritage breeds are historic and retain essential attributes for survival: self sufficiency, fertility, foraging ability, longevity, maternal instincts, ability to mate naturally and resistance to disease, all of which have been mostly lost in factory farm breeds. Heritage breeds are known for their juiciness, flavor and tenderness and just taste better! They are basically, the opposite to CAFO (confined animal feeding operations). Heritage promotes breed diversity and the local family farmer. Most are raised with minimum to none antibiotics and given organic feed. The more people are aware of what a heritage breed is and like the taste of the meat, the demand will then help to put pressure on grocers to supply it.
Last year the farmers lineup (I will update this post with the current farmer lineup closer to the event) included Catalpa Grove Farm with a Hereford. Originating from the U.S. during the 1920’s, the Hereford is a rare, but well-known breed. Resembling Hereford cows, these hogs have a distinguished reddish-brown coat and white face. The Hereford is known for its calm disposition and ability to thrive on pastures. It is a slower-growing breed, yielding rich colored, marbled meat. (Thanks to Blackberry Farm’s Field Guide to Heritage Breed pigs for the descriptions on all the heritage breeds).
Friend of the Beet, Slagel Family Farms is providing a duroc. Durocs are known for its sweet meat, marbling, amazing shoulders and spareribs. Slagel supplied a chester white as well. Chester White’s are revered for the cutability .
La Pryor Farms provided a duroc and hampshire. The English breed, Hampshire is known for its amazing carcass, hardy vigor and superior fat to meat ratio in the belly and loin.
Finally, Triple S Farms provided a large black. Originating from Chinese breeds brought to England, the Large Black is a critically rare breed known for its taste, pasture foraging skills and overall hardiness. Large Blacks have short black hair, wide shoulders and a long body. When harvested, even at 200 pounds, the micro-marbling, short muscle fibers and excellent bellies produce exceptional bacon and moist meat with old world flavor.
You will be able to do a tasting to determine which heritage breed is your favorite and vote on your favorite dish. Although the local farmers and pigs are the main focus of the event there is a lot more going on.
The event is setup as a friendly competition to celebrate global grilling cultures as well. The culinary competition challenges  chefs to cook one whole, family farm-raised, heritage pig for a group of 20 notable judges. Chefs have seven days to prepare one whole pig and present a “Judge’s Plate” consisting of 6 dishes scored on utilization, global influences, cooking techniques and overall flavor. The winner in Chicago will be crowned the “BBQ King or Queen” and takes home more than $3,000 in prizes. In addition to sampling the competitor’s dishes, the all-inclusive ticket includes “BBQ Traditions”, a tasting inside the event where 10 notable chefs prepare one dish from their favorite BBQ culture in non-competitive spirit. If you love global flavors and star-studded culinary events, this educational event is like a top chef classroom including grilling-styles like Hibachi, Korean BBQ, Asador, Braai from Africa, Char Siu, Caja China, Churrasco, Barbacoa, as well as regional American BBQ styles from Texas to Kansas City.
Sunday, September 27, is the main event, Heritage BBQ, hosted at Morgan Manufacturing. This year’s competing chefs include Alfredo Nogueira of Analogue, Ed Sura of Perennial Virant, Scott Manley of Table, Donkey & Stick, Chris Curren of Seven Lions and Jonathan Meyer of Freehand Chicago – Official Hotel of the Heritage BBQ weekend. Each chef will be given a 180 pound heritage breed pig to create six dishes for a crowd of pork-loving enthusiasts. Non-competing chefs cooking BBQ Traditions include Chrissy Camba of Maddy’s Dumpling House, Dave Ochs of Maple & Ash, John Manion of La Sirena Clandestina, Mitch Cavanah of GT Fish and Oyster, Phil Whingo of Pork Mafia, and Dylan Lipe of Blackwood BBQ.
The weekend kicks-off on Friday, September 25 at 10:00PM with Chef Abe Conlon hosting a Late Night Asian Speakeasy Dinner at Fat Rice. This priceless experience is an all-inclusive guest chef dinner that pays homage to the best Chinese, Sichuan, Korean, Thai and Japanese establishments that have inspired some of the best menus across the country. On Saturday, September 26, Cochon555 teamed up with Chicago Gourmet to host the inaugural Punch Kings, Pigs n’ Tiki on the Harris Theater Rooftop from 8 to 11 p.m.
The whole purpose of these events is to raise the consumer’s awareness about meat. To quote Brady Lowe, the founder of Cochon 555, “This event returns the BBQ conversation to the original context of local meats, cooked with native spices, over fires and shared with a community. Therefore, the event will tilt the scales back towards creating long-term relationships for family farms and big protein buyers like BBQ restaurants. It’s only a matter of time until people demand better food choices when standing at the counter. We are standing right there with them, promoting honest food and a choice to buy safe food.”