THE PIG EASY
Using Spanish charcuterie techniques, Beal’s Farm creates exquisite pork products
Butchery has been in the Beal family for 100 years. But, despite a part-time job in his brother’s butcher shop when he was young, Phil Beal insists it was never on his radar.
“My family and I moved to Spain and settled in a small hamlet in the foothills of Andalucia, where we spent most weekends picking olives and almonds with our neighbours,” he says. “Every summer, the hamlet would raise a pig together and different people would process different parts of the meat. A lot of respect was shown to the animal, and the end result was a variety of fantastic quality charcuterie products which would be shared out among the local community.”
On returning to the UK and finding the British charcuterie sector almost non-existent, Phil decided to invest in a herd of woolly pigs. “Mangalitsas are one of the rarest breeds in pig husbandry,” he explains. “They are more expensive and take longer to raise than commercial pigs, but are highly prized around the world for their pedigree. At two years the animal is fully matured and everything begins to relax and improve. The meat deepens in colour and the fat becomes even meltier than before.”
As well taking longer to reach maturity, the high monounsaturated fat running through each of these pigs means that their meat takes longer to dry. “The process is lengthy,” Phil admits, “but the results are worth it.”
His clients agree. From the smoked pancetta featured by James Martin on the BBC TV show Saturday Kitchen, to the air-dried ham that won Championship Product last year, Beal’s Farm has caused a sensation. “My favourite is the lardo we produce from the back fat of a two-year-old mangalitsa,” says Phil. “It is a delicious four-inch block, cured in rosemary, black pepper, garlic and salt for six months. I love it sliced thinly and served with warm bread, then used to mop up the juices from a plate of cooked chorizo.”
Despite doing a busy trade with multiple restaurants, hotels, and celebrity chefs, Phil still visits his local farmers market a couple of times per month. “I really enjoy the community feel of it,” he says. “The first thing I do when I get there in the morning is make everyone a bacon roll.”