Tag Archives: cochon 555

Go Pig or Go Home

This weekend, JV and our sous chef, Ben, are headed to Philadelphia to partake in COCHON EPIC No.2 —  an ‘expression’ of Cochon 555 that showcases a one-time-only event, never to be replicated. Last year’s EPIC was held at the James Beard House in NYC and featured a pork-centric dinner paired with vintage Champagnes for 80 guests. This year, the event will be held on Sunday, July 28, at the Ritz-Carlton in Philly, where 20 local chefs will team up to prepare six whole heritage breed pigs (that’s more than 1500 pounds of pork!) from local farms to create a mouth-watering feast.

And unlike Cochon 555, EPIC is not a competition, but rather “a celebration of all the chefs, farmers and pork-enthusiasts Philly has to offer,” — per their website. Sounds pretty awesome, right? The good news is, if you’re lucky enough to be in the Philly area and are interested in stuffing your face with delicious pork for an evening, tickets are still available here.


Credit: Cochon555

JV was invited to participate as a National Chef, along with Matt Jennings of Farmstead in Providence, and Todd Mussman of Muss & Turners and Local Three in Atlanta. They will be preparing a collaborative menu to build enthusiasm for Cochon Heritage BBQ, a new Cochon event designed to feature the utilization of whole heritage breed pigs in BBQ communities across the nation. In preparation for the event, JV decided to spit-roast what’s called a “saddle-cut” of pork, meaning the loin, rib and belly are completely connected. Whoa.


Though cooking time was a bit of a guessing game, JV’s two main concerns were as follows: don’t burn the place down, and second, don’t break the spit; keep in mind — that’s nearly 100 pounds of pork hanging on for dear life!


He smothered the pork in a delicious rub of spices, brown sugar and garlic (see recipe below), and let it go for a good three hours, all while feeding and maintaining the fire with a combination of apple and cherry wood (for flavor/smoke) and white oak wood (for heat). The end result? You’ll have to watch the video to find out ;)

EPIC Pork Rub Recipe:


For every pound of pork use …

  • 1 T. coriander seed
  • 1 T. dill seed
  • 1 T. fennel seed
  • 1 T. whole juniper
  • 1 T. whole allspice
  • 1 T. whole clove
  • 1 T. mustard seed
  • 2 T. black pepper corn
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced


Crush spices together using a mortar and pestle, and then combine them with the salt, sugar and garlic. Rub this mixture on the pork and let sit for 2 days. Try using this rub on a pork loin that’s roasted in a hot oven, about 450 degrees F.


The King of Porc Returns

“I don’t think I’m very good at butchery,” says executive chef of Nightwood, Jason Vincent, also known as “JV” by us kitchen folk. “For someone who isn’t a butcher, I’ve done it a lot, but this is only the third pig I’ve broken down in a year.”


But for anyone who knows JV, it’s hard to believe that he could “not be good” at anything in the kitchen — especially since winning the Grand Cochon competition this past summer at the 30th annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colorado. There, he beat out nine of the country’s most talented chefs (including Michelle Bernstein, Kelly English, Naomi Pomeroy and Marc Forgione) to be crowned the “King of Porc.” Though his humility is refreshing, I’d say that’s something to brag about.


Credit: Eater.com

The competition — Cochon 555 — begins regionally, and the rules are simple: five chefs are to prepare a menu entirely from one breed of heritage pig. The winner, who is chosen by a panel of 20 local judges and audience members, then goes on to compete at the Grand Cochon for the finale event. And once again, let’s not forget who won this year’s competition …

JV used a Tamworth heritage breed hog from Triple S Farm to create his award-winning dishes, which included: a liver chip, a version of cocido (a Spanish-style pork and vegetable stew), a bacon-butterscotch doughnut served with soft scrambled egg and “hollandoink” sauce, and a bloody mary on the bone.

Credit: Cochon 555

Credit: Cochon 555

And just when we thought the celebration was dwindling down, JV told us that farmer Stan Schutte from Triple S Farm was coming by with yet another Tamworth hog for the restaurant, but this time, it was a special, acorn-fed variety. So when Stan pulled up in his truck last Thursday morning, I jumped off my stool at the kitchen counter, grabbed my camera and ran outside to document the delivery:


The acorn-fed hogs are a seasonal livestock, and since this is only the fourth year they’ve raised this particular kind, we felt extra lucky to have one. “It was killed about a week ago, so it doesn’t get much fresher than that,” Stan told us. Not to mention, because these hogs are pasture-raised and hand-fed, they’re incredibly gentle and calm, which in turn, makes the meat taste better. “It has a very natural nutty flavor, and the meat is a more intense red color,” Stan said. “This is some high quality meat you’ve got here.”


The hog was about 7-months old and weighed just over 250 pounds.


The head and bucket of blood made their way down to the walk-in cooler while JV started to break down one of the halves upstairs at the counter.


“The first time we broke down a whole pig, it took us 7 hours, and then 4 hours the second time, so we’ll see how this goes,” JV said.  “It’s kinda fun.”


Removing the ribs …





“Now comes the hard part — figuring out what I want to make and not fucking up the cut!”


Bacon. Enough said.


While JV has great plans for utilizing the entire pig, for now, he’s deboned the leg, rubbed it with a mixture of seasonings (chili, garlic, onion powder, dill), roasted it and steamed it. This will be sliced and either pan-seared or grilled for the dinner menu. He also made an incredibly gelatinous stock using the head, which he plans to use for soup dumplings. He visualizes the dish begin served on a searing hot plate, perhaps finished with raw fish and ginger. And if you love bacon, don’t miss the NYE menu — one appetizer option is a lobster-bacon stew, which will feature the Tamworth bacon (above).


“The cool thing about this blog is that it’s not just ‘hey look! I’m butchering a pig!’ but it’s like, somebody sees it and they’re better at this than me, and maybe I run into them and they’re like ‘hey! I saw you butchering a pig,’ and maybe they’ve got a couple of pointers for me.”

Want more? Check out our video below of JV in action: