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The Reader's Whole Hog Project

December 5, 2008

After the fire at Maveric Ranch: A fund to help "preserve the nine critically endangered hog breeds in the U.S., through genetic research, breeding protocols, placing animals on family farms, and developing a market for the pork."

December 4, 2008

Dee Dee farrows again: "Cute how the moms tuck the babies into a straw nest before walking off to poo, then coming back, uncovering them, grunting to call them to her and carefully lying down for them."

November 28, 2008

Bad news for mulefoots: Maveric Heritage Ranch, a South Dakota farm that raises rare breeds of livestock and has the largest mulefoot hog herd in the country, suffered a barn fire last week that killed more than 40 rare hogs.

November 28, 2008

There Will Be Pork (pt. 2): Be forewarned: a good deal of this part takes place in the slaughterhouse.

November 13, 2008

The Food Issue

Story: The culmination of a year-and-a-half-long series in which an unrepentant omnivore faces his food

Video: Sky Full of Bacon's Mike Gebert worked with Sula to document the Whole Hog Project on video.

Slideshow: The mulefoots' journey from farm to table

Recipes: The top chefs who participated in the Reader's mulefoot dinner adapted some of the dishes for you to try at home.

November 7, 2008

"Farmers aren't going to raise zoo animals": Mike Gebert just completed a trailer for the upcoming Sky Full of Bacon documentary on how our mulefoots got from the farm to Blackbird.

October 20, 2008

Dinner is served: It was a six-act pork circus last night at Blackbird.

October 13, 2008

Blackbird sent along a rough draft of the menu for Sunday's mulefoot dinner.

September 23, 2008

After nearly a year and a half, it's time to see how mulefoots perform on the plate.

Back when we bought our own mulefoot with the aim of following the care and feeding of one of these rare heritage pigs and eventually hosting a public snout-to-tail dinner, I knew there was one chef who'd make the most of it—Paul Kahan. To my great delight, not only has Kahan agreed to cook for us (even in the midst of the frenzy surrounding the opening of his new restaurant, the Publican), but he's enlisted a formidable lineup of talent to help out.

On Sunday, October 19, Kahan will be joined at Blackbird by Paul Virant of Vie, Jason Hammel and Amalea Tshilds of Lula, Blackbird's Mike Sheerin, Avec's Justin Large, and the Publican's Brian Huston in preparing a six-course mulefoot pig dinner—and you're invited.

Tickets are $125 (including wine but not tax or tip). It all starts with a champagne reception at 6, followed by dinner at 6:30. Proceeds benefit Kahan's choice of Slow Food Chicago.

Blackbird, 619 W. Randolph, is taking reservations now at 312-715-0708.

In the meantime, see below for entries in the Whole Hog Project posted in chronological order.

Good Company and Good Food—May 18, 2007
The best way to save the endangered mulefoot pig is to eat it.

Introducing the Whole Hog Project—May 18, 2007
The Reader buys a pig

The Whole Hog Project: More hooves on the ground—May 22, 2007
A second group of piglets arrives

The Whole Hog Project: So what does mulefoot taste like?—June 1, 2007
A mulefoot vs. factory pork showdown

The Whole Hog Project: Name that piglet—June 8, 2007
How to keep track of a herd of pigs

The Whole Hog Project: Meet the farmers, part one—June 20, 2007
Background on farmers Linda Derrickson and Mark Kessenich

The Whole Hog Project: Piglet video from Hillspring's summer solstice festival—June 25, 2007
Linda Derrickson and Mark Kessenich have a summer solstice party and the pigs express their individuality

The Whole Hog Project: Meet the farmers, part two—July 17, 2007
More on farmers Linda Derrickson and Mark Kessenich

The Whole Hog Project: The piglets get their ears pierced—August 7, 2007
How to i.d. a mulefoot

The Whole Hog Project: Change is good—August 21, 2007
The mulefoots move to a new home

The Whole Hog Project: discriminating feeders—September 24, 2007
The mulefoots reject potbelly pig chow.

The Whole Hog Project: pig art by Susan Medaris—October 4, 2007
A Wisconsin artist exhibits her mulefoot paintings

Healthy Meat the Hard Way—November 29, 2007
Introducing Dee Dee, the Reader's mulefoot

Dee Dee: The Video—November 29, 2007
Dee Dee's on-camera debut

The Whole Hog Project: So long, Cong and Cherry, part one—December 19, 2007
A trip to the slaughterhouse

The Whole Hog Project: So Long Cong and Cherry, part two—December 27, 2007
Cong and Cherry meet their fate on the killing floor

The Whole Hog Project: So Long Cong and Cherry, part three—January 15, 2008
The meat comes back from the slaughterhouse

The Whole Hog Project: More piglets coming. A lot more.—February 25, 2008
Dee Dee is pregnant.

The Whole Hog Project: spring piglets, and lots of 'em—April 14, 2008
Dee Dee farrows her piglets

The Whole Hog Project: piglet pics—May 5, 2008
New piglet pics, and Dee Dee takes well to mothering.

The Whole Hog Project: mulefoot montage—May 12, 2008
piglet video

The Whole Hog Project: let's do some numbers—May 20, 2008
A new book on heritage breeds has the mulefoot count all wrong

The Whole Hog Project: fall pig pics—September 10, 2008
The pigs have spent an idyllic summer among the greenery in Argyle, Wisconsin

The Whole Hog Project: Come and get it!—September 23, 2008
The mulefoot dinner at Blackbird is announced


The Whole Hog Project: chef's brainstorming session—September 30, 2008
The chefs strategize our sold-out mulefoot dinner.

The Whole Hog Project: Why not Dee Dee?—October 6, 2008
Dee Dee gets a reprieve.

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