Pig Island, Sadly Missing the Pina Coladas



The Starting Line


I have been talking about Pina Coladas for the past three months.  Not because a couple of “hippish” bars have started to serve them.  No, it’s because of my love for a crazy light rock song called “Escape.”  You’ve probably heard the song and not thought twice about it. It’s main hook is, “If you like Pina Coladas and long walks in the rain…” This Summer when my Wife told me of the meaning of this song, no exaggeration, it changed my life. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a little. The song tells the story of a married couple who secretly put personal ads in the local paper looking for Pina Colada fans, only to end up reuniting with each other. I am getting off topic. The song is funny and it reminded me to start drinking frozen drinks again…

Anyway, Pig Island wasn’t a pina colada type of island, but it was amazing nonetheless.  Jimmy of Jimmy’s 43, that impresario of locavore events, organized it.  He arranged for every chef to get up to five local pigs to serve to the public. Awesome. Of course Nick and I got the maximum amount of pigs to go to town with. We spent forever and a half to come up with our dish. The main road block was that I hate potato salad. I have never had a good one. Deli potato salad is disgusting, warm potato salad is usually greasy and gross. I ask you: how many potato salads have you had that have been undercooked, over mayo-ed, bland, etc?  Lame-O is that potat-O salad. Have I made myself clear? So, Nick wanted to serve our dish with his vinegar-salt potato salad and I kept saying, NO there must be something better. He kept at it. Realizing that we are not a fully functioning restaurant with a budget, potato salad started to make sense. Well, I will be honest..it was pretty good potato salad that complimented our dish nicely. So what did we serve with the potato salad?  read on…


caja china

caja china at work


We butchered a pig and then made pulled pork out of the legs and shoulders, and brined the carcass/belly flap. Then, we stuffed the de-boned pig carcass with the pulled pork, lemon braised fennel, and cooked it in the caja china till the skin turned crispy. It was fucking awesome. I made two sauces: a reduced pork demi-glace that I buttered out and a chimichurri aioli. So, the dish was pork stuffed pork with pork demi-glace, chimichurri aioli, and potato salad. I was proud. Nick was proud. I think we were a little bummed that it wasn’t a competition. We treated it as a competition – stayed up till three am three nights in a row (looks like we would have gotten votes from the volunteer crew too!).



Pig Stuffed Pig


But there were other great dishes…

People could not stop eating the bacon sticky buns from the desert chef of  Print Restaurant in The Ink Hotel. I’m not saying how many I had, but it was more than one. Plus, Matthew Weingarten of Inside Park at St. Barts made one the best sausages I have had in recent memory. It was a sausage made from the entire pig, skin and all. It was juicy and peppery, really to my liking- perfectly seasoned.



The Lab


The real beauty of the event for me was the opportunity to butcher five whole pigs. Since I left professional kitchens, I do not get that chance often. I think by the third pig, Stella Got Her Groove Back! The butchering made the whole event worth it. Also, the space Nick found to do the prep work was amazing. All alone, I butchered the pigs in a ginormous waterfront sound stage in Williamsburg. Such a New York moment. The space was the size of three football fields, painted black, and pitch dark except for a lone spotlight focused on the pig. I was able to drive my car inside to where I was working and play the radio. It was a special night.



hello there



more Pig Island pics

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6 Responses to “Pig Island, Sadly Missing the Pina Coladas”

  1. 1 Perry P Perkins October 14, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Wow, I’ve never seen a pig prepared like that before…that looks awesome!

    Hey, La Caja China has released their first cookbook, “La Caja China Cooking” –


  2. 2 Ted October 28, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Truly awesome. Come to the southland where your swine expertise will be truly appreciated.

    And true dat on the potato salad. Potato salad is simply vile, every batch that has ever been made, ever.

    Should have served the pig with some chow-chow.

  3. 3 Charles January 7, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    That looks delicious! Wish I could’ve tasted. I’m with you on the potato salad thing. The potato is way too cool of a food to be drowned in bad mayo.

    But…I’m clueless about chow chow. What is it? Some southern side dish, right? It can’t be dog food. Does it involve okra? I like okra.

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