Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Pig Surprise at Wildwood

I ate dinner with my good friend Larry Chicane last night, ostensibly to plan our annual pilgrimage to Texas to eat barbecue, but mostly just to eat some here in NYC. I hadn't eaten with Larry since my birthday at Il Mulino so we where rather over due to break bread (or in this case rib bones). It had also been a while since either one of us had dined at Wildwood so we went there with brisket and beef back ribs on our minds.

We did get the beef ribs, and they were delicious although I could tell that Larry, ever the proud Texan, would have preferred them to come sans sauce. But we skipped the brisket because towards the back of the restaurant we noticed something interesting. There we found, splayed out on a large wood chopping block and bathed eerily in the orange light of heat lamps,  a small sized hog with a bronzed skin and olives for eyes.

Unbeknownst to either Larry or myself this spectacle occurs every Tuesday at Wildwood and pit master Big Lou himself is there to carve the swine. While not carving he works the room, slapping shoulders and winking at the ladies.

An order cost $24 and it is a good amount of food. It comes with a small roll, a triangle of corn bread, a wonderfully creamy slaw spiked with caraway and what looks like two Big Lou sized fists if pork. The dish comes with a trio of sauces - I liked the South Carolina inspired mustard sauce the best. But really the hog was flavorful enough on its own - the smoke flavor was present but restrained, allowing the flavor of the pork itself to really come through. Big Lou brines the beast before a lengthy smoke which renders the it ethereally tender - the meat falls apart easily into delicate ribbons. Larry and I split a portion because we also had beef ribs but you'll want to order one for yourself, as we intend to do when we return next week.

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