Dream Pig

28th March 2019

A rare hybrid of classic British breeds, Goodwood’s prize-winning porkers are a cause for celebration.

Words by James Collard

  • goodwood newsletter

  • Goodwood Magazine

goodwood_pigs_alexbenwell042.jpg

2019 was the Year of the Pig – the 12th year in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese Zodiac, What better time, therefore, to celebrate Goodwood’s pigs? Especially given that in the Japanese and Tibetan zodiacs, the pig of Chinese tradition becomes a boar – for Goodwood’s pigs are a mix of two rare breeds of pig plus the Large White Boar. They’re part Gloucestershire Old Spots – that tastiest of porkers, long championed by culinary pioneers such as London’s St John restaurant, and now a classic item on gastropub menus. And they’re part British Saddleback, itself an amalgam of two breeds: the Wessex Saddleback and the Essex, or rather the “Improved Essex”, whose oh-so-British genes were jeujed up in the early-19th century with the addition of a dash of Neapolitan porcine DNA.

Who knew? And if you’re thinking that piggy provenance is more complicated than you’d ever imagined, the gist of it here – as outlined by the British Pig Association’s Michaela Giles, is that rare breeds are survivors, the result of “a few stubborn old diehards” who refused the Ministry of Agriculture’s advice that pig farming in Britain be limited to just three officially sanctioned breeds.

The sows of both the Gloucestershire Old Spots and the British Saddleback are renowned for their maternal qualities, while on a less sentimental note, the Old Spots used to be known as “the pig with built-in apple sauce”, as it enjoys rummaging around in orchards searching for apples that have fallen from trees. All have a decent amount of fat on them, which is also on-trend, now that the 1970s notion that “low fat” equals healthy has largely been debunked, and they’re dual-use pigs – grown for both their pork and their bacon. Telling, then, that Goodwood should have won prizes for both.

Tom Kerridge, the star chef who last year had a pop-up at Goodwood’s Farmer, Butcher, Chef restaurant, sums up its qualities thus: “Outdoor reared pork has a phenomenal taste and the use of heritage animals provides longevity within the breed – which is great for British farming and most importantly, for flavour.”

This article was taken from the Spring 2019 edition of the Goodwood Magazine.

  • goodwood newsletter

  • Goodwood Magazine

  • hen-party-goodwood-magazine-2.jpg

    Stories from the Estate

    Hen Party

  • bruce.jpg

    Stories from the Estate

    Say Cheese

  • goodwood__light-background_-101.jpg

    Stories from the Estate

    Interview: Sarah Ayton