The Mangalica (also Mangalitsa Oig or Mangalitza) is a Hungarian breed of domestic pig. It produces according to many, world’s best-tasting pork. It therefore is also one of the most expensive foods. People started to develop the pig in the mid-19th century in Austro-Hungary by crossbreeding Hungarian breeds with the European wild boar and the Serbian Šumadija breed. The pig grows a thick, curly coat of hair. The only other pig breed noted for having a long coat is the extinct Lincolnshire Curly Coat pig of England.
History of the Mangalica
In 1883, Prince of Serbia Miloš Obrenović sent 12 pigs of the autochthonous Serbian Šumadinka breed to the Archduke Joseph, Palatine of Hungary. Ten of the pigs were sows while two were boars,
Breeders used the pigs originally grown at the Prince’s farm near Belgrade to create the black mangalica. The development took place in Austro-Hungary (now this is Arad County in Romania) in the early 19th century.
The new, quick-growing, “fat-type” hog did not require any special care. This caused it to become very popular in Hungary. As a result, Mangalica was the most prominent swine breed in the region until 1950 (30,000 of them were in Hungary in 1943). Since then the popularity as well as the population has been decreasing. The main reasons being the rising availability of food from farther away and refrigeration. So in 1991 there were less than 200 remaining in Hungary. More recently, Monte Nevado, a Spanish company has begun the breeding and recovery of Mangalica.
Mangalica Keeping as Hobby
Nowadays, the keeping of Mangalica has become a popular hobby. Slightly over 7,000 Mangalica sows in Hungary are producing around 60,000 piglets a year.
Apart from Hungary, the Mangalica is present in Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Switzerland and the United States. In Serbia, in the 1980s there were only a few left of the breed (mangulica in Serbian). In 1998, Serbia re-introduced Mangalica into the Zasavica wetlands. They can roam free in a reservation, becoming partially feral, with cases of breeding with wild boars known.
As from the early 2010s, their number grew to 1,000 in Zasavica and in populations kept in the individual farms in the other regions. As both original Serbian breeds of domestic pig died out. Mangalica is the only surviving autochthonous breed in Serbia. In March 2006, farmers imported seventeen of the pigs from Austria to the United Kingdom. In 2007, the United States startee to import the pigs.
There are currently three existing varieties. They only differ by color: “blonde”, “swallow-bellied”, and “red”.
- The “blonde” Mangalica is blonde,
- The “swallow-bellied” (originally a crossing of the Blonde Mangalica with the extinct Black Mangalica) has a blonde lower-portion of its body while the upper-portion of its body is black, and
- The “red” (a crossing of the Blonde Mangalica with the Szalonta breed) is ginger.
Other varieties (including “black”, “wolf”, and “baris”) have become extinct as pure-bred forms. Though in Hungary people are talking about the reconstruction from selective breeding of mixed varieties.
Use and Recipes
Slaughter weight (for meat production) is generally achieved beyond 12 months of age. In addition, the Mangalica produces too little lean meat. Therefore farmers have been gradually replacing it by modern domestic breeds. They usually feed it with a mix of wild pasture, supplemented with farm-produced potatoes and pumpkins. Consequently, as Hungarian farmers produce about 60,000 animals each year, it is quite easy to find the meat.
The primary product made from this pig is sausage, usually packed in the pig’s duodenum. The minced meat is seasoned with salt, pepper, sweet paprika, and other spices. It is then eaten in slices with pickled vegetables. The pork is also served braised with sauerkraut, potatoes, and stuffed peppers as a side dish. In addition, farmers also produce smoked hams. The fresh meat tastes strong and juicy; the suckling pigs are much preferred for their good fresh meat qualities.
Organic or not?
In Hungary, breeders raise most Mangalica pigs purely or semi-intensively. In Serbia, the pigs are left to roam free in a reservation, becoming partially feral, with cases of breeding with wild boars known.
An organic bone-in-ham can cost up to $550 which makes it comparable to Jamon Iberico which is also one of the most expensive foods in the world.