Swine Before Pearls? Pig Wings (Finally) Gain National Attention
|Will pork wings take flight?|
Today, [Pioneer Meats president Bob File], whose business has been increasing more than 10 percent a year for the last four years, sells more than one million of the approximately 2.5 million pounds of the processed shanks sold in the nation each year.Reading this, Gut Check had a profound flash of deja vu. Also, some tummy rumblings. But mostly deja vu. It wasn't our imagination, either. At least one St. Louis restaurant was ahead of the pork-wing curve.
Under various noms de porc, the shanks are being served at restaurants and bars across the country. Farmland Foods, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, has begun selling KC Wild Wings to wholesale restaurant accounts.
In fact, we encountered pork "wings" for the first time over a year ago at Market Grill (728 Lafayette Avenue; 314-436-7664). They were the most intriguing thing at what was at the time a rather unassuming Soulard establishment.
The "wings" don't look like wings so much as individual ribs, each a plumpish hunk of deep-fried meat surrounding a bone roughly six inches long and no thicker than a finger.The deep-fried morsels of pig shank are undeniably tasty, if simplistically so. Like chicken wings, they can serve as the ballast for any number of sauces. But can they make the leap from trend to appetizer mainstay?
If the Market Grill is any indication, maybe not. In September, the restaurant brought in a new chef, Jonathan Olson, and revamped its entire menu, focusing on thoughtful preparations of locally sourced food.
Take heed, tastemakers: The pork wings didn't make the cut.