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Gascon Black Pig - Gascon Porc Noir

Gascon Black Pig - Gascon Porc Noir

Gascon Black Pig

This week I took an hour drive Northeast from our house in the Pyrénéan foothills to the beautiful Gers region of Southwest France. The Gers is a beautiful, lush and vibrant farming area with stunning scenery, rolling hills and picturesque views of the Pyrénées. The farming is diverse and it’s where, among other things, Gascon Black Pigs are raised.

The farm Enjouanisson is home to Louisa and Stuart Hallewell who moved to France from the UK in 2007 to live a more rural and sustainable lifestyle. They became accidental farmers when they bought and developed a “small” 120 acre farm which has beautiful views of the Pyrénées mountains on one side and rolling countryside on the other. It’s here, along with their children, Harmonie and Phoenix that they rear Gascon Black Pigs as part of their sustainable lifestyle.

Gascon Black Pigs

Happy pigs - come to say hello wth a grunt and a sniffle. Note the huge floppy ears that protect their eyes from thorns and brambles.

Gascon Black Pig

Cute 2 week old bunnys!

Stuart and Louisa have worked incredibly hard in developing their farm, which is now certified fully Organic. No small feat I can assure you as regulations and controls have to be strictly adhered to. The work is endless and exhausting but rewarding none-the-less and it shows when you meet the animals.

Stuart and Louisa do all of the work themselves, they grow all their own organic feed and believe that happy animals produce happy meat. There’s a strong belief in animal welfare and a desire for minimal environmental impact with what they do. There are no pesticides or fungicides sprayed or painted. Natural remedies are used to treat infection if it occurs and their organic crops are planted later than other farms as their seed is not treated to withstand early season mildew and “maladies”. Like many of us they want to know what they are eating and how it was raised.

There are fat and happy chickens scratching around, ducks, rabbits and one of the biggest veggie patches I’ve ever seen, all providing food for their table or income from the local markets. Predator control is hosted by a group of cheeky but friendly terriers that keep everything in order and the baby animals safe. 

Gascon Black Pig

Then there are the pigs

The Gascon Black Pig is friendly and docile but full of cute piggy character. They are, as their name states, black skinned and have wiry black hair with big floppy ears that cover their eyes protecting them from brambles and thorns as they forage. They are a rustic breed, a descendant of the wild boar and they live outside all year round baring the swing in seasonal temperatures. The meat is darker than normal pork and it is well marbled with a fuller flavour. It isn’t gamey as one would think but rich and it’s this exceptional flavour that makes Gascon Black Pork a sought after delicacy. The jewel in the crown is "charcuterie" made from the pork; most noteworthy are the dried hams which are aged for 15-20 months and which have a fine, delicate flavour with a long lasting aroma. Restaurants worldwide search for this charcuterie and as production is so small it has an almost boutique like cult following. If you find a good producer, especially one with such an outstanding ethos as Enjouanisson, get it, you won’t be disappointed. It’s like gold!

Gascon Black Pig

This big boy was happy to sit out the heat in a muddy puddle.

On the day I visited the farm it was a hot 25°c, the pigs were sleeping off their lunch under trees or in the shade. Despite the heat they each made the effort to come and say hello with a grunt and sniffle then retreated to the nearest water trough or muddy puddle for a wallow.

The pigs are divided into dedicated pastures depending on which part of their “cycle” (breeders, fatteners, youngsters etc...) they are in. All of the areas are huge with tons of space for them to forage around digging for acorns and other piggy delicacies whether in the forest or out in the open.

When the pigs are ready, they are taken for slaughtering to a certified Organic abbatoir and then Stuart and Louisa cut and process the all meat themselves. About half of the pig is used as fresh meat and the rest used for charcuterie or saussison, which is then dried in their drying rooms and sold. 

Gascon Black Pig

This lady was happier to sit in the shade.

Not content with just rearing organic pigs, chickens, ducks and rabbits, Stuart and Louisa also offer cooking courses and language classes at the farm. How cool would it be to learn how to make your own sausage or haggis? You can even stay overnight at the farm, experience the morning chorus of the animals and take in some of the most stunning scenery I have ever seen.

The are happy for people to visit Enjouanisson but prefer a heads up phone call or email to let them know as they are always busy. Louisa attends many markets in the region throughout the summer months where she sells the dried meats and sausage that she makes. She also sells to local restaurants. So, if you are looking for something incredible to try in the pork department, try Gascon Black Pork

Gascon Porc Noir

Drop Enjouanisson an email or check out their websites for more information:

www.enjouanisson.com www.littleblackpig.eu

As a side note: I am not affiliated with Enjouanisson at all and the opinions are all my own. I have a high regard for the ethos with which Stuart and Louisa have made their business and immense respect the hard work they do to maintain their lifestyle. The pigs are pretty cute too!

This article is linked to a site filled with interesting stories people have written about life in France Click on the logo above or click here to go to the site

Comments

Sounds perfect combination - wonderful meat - language and cookery lessons!

di's picture

It's pretty cool Suz, very happy animals in a beautiful setting.

I have been lucky enough to visit lou and Stuart and enjoy their cured meats. Like you, the ethical production of meat is very important to me and their produce is outstanding in quality and flavour

di's picture

Thanks for your comments Sara, I wish them the very best for their business. Not an easy one to be in.

having tasted the fruits of their efforts - I can say that the results are gastronomical! well done Lou and Stuart

I'd love to try the saucisson, I bet it's delicious. Coming from such happy contented piggies it must be full of flavour. Thanks for linking this up to #AllAboutFrance, did you see I mentioned you in my round-up of favourites from last month?

di's picture

Thanks Phoebe and thanks for doing the linky, it's great and hope it helps everyone out.
Thanks also for the mention from last month - I feel almost famous!

Beautiful photos of this farm -- I haven't gotten to know the Gers at all even though I live in Midi-Pyrénées. The one time I went (to Lectoure) I found the area stunning, but unfortunately we had little time to visit. #AllAboutFrance

di's picture

Thanks Betty - it's well worth the visit if you have the time.

We have friends who have a Gascon Black Pig called Porky who comes to visit our boar every once in a while (wink) - she's a lovely pig and Boris is very fond of her. He is a orange Kune Kune pig and the resulting piglets are a mixture of both parents and totally adorable! As you might well tell, I am rather fond of pigs! Popping by with a very belated comment via #AllAbout France.

di's picture

Thanks for stopping by from #AllAboutFrance
I bet those piglets are adorable.

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