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The Mangalica pig breed, also known as Mangaliza or Mangalitsa, was once common across the Pannonian plains, particularly in Hungary. The pig is distinguished by its unmistakable thick and curly coat, generally blond, black and white or, more rarely, pink.

Mangalica pigs with the typical curly coat

This very fat pig grows slowly and cannot be kept indoors, characteristics that make it completely unsuitable for industrial farming.

Mangalica pigs

After risking extinction, it was rediscovered at the end of the 1990s, and began to be appreciated for its excellent meat, which has a high fat content but is low in cholesterol.

A few small-scale farmers in the Kiskunság National Park are now raising pure-bred Mangalica in semi-wild conditions, supplementing the pigs’ grazing with natural, farm-produced foods.

Mangalica pigs during winter in the Kiskunság National Park
Olga Rendek, coordinator of the Mangalica sausage Presidium
The sausage and other by-products

Wholesome, flavorful Mangalica pork can be roasted in the oven, braised or cooked in broth, and is usually served with sauerkraut, potatoes and stuffed peppers. Following traditional techniques, the farmers produce their own smoked hams and sausages. The sausages are the most interesting of the products, and come in various forms.

The most traditional is packed in the pig’s duodenum, with a diameter of around 3 centimeters and a length of up to 70 centimeters.

The sausages ready for smoking

The sausage is prepared by finely grinding lard and meat, by hand or with an electric meat grinder (the only concession to modernity), then seasoning the mixture with salt, pepper, sweet paprika and other spices which vary from recipe to recipe.

The sausages during the smoking process

After being stuffed into their casings by hand, the sausages are cold-smoked over acacia or oak wood, then aged for some time, ideally between two and three months.

Mangaliza sausage with the distinctive red color, given by the paprika

Traditionally the sausages are eaten sliced, accompanied by fermented vegetables like cucumbers and cabbage-stuffed peppers.

Sliced sausage ready to be consumed

The Presidium was started to promote this high-quality heritage breed, but also the traditional sausage of the Hungarian Puszta grassland. The starting point for the project was a small but well-organized business: 17 farmers and butchers united in an organically certified cooperative.

Olga Rendek with her family
A view of the homes in Kiskunság

These very small-scale producers are based in Kiskunság, a region south of Budapest and home to one of the country’s most important national parks, where they farm the Mangalica pigs, process the meat and even make their own paprika.

Chili peppers to make paprika

Since it was launched in 2002, the Mangalica Sausage Presidium has participated in many national and international events, always attracting great interest. Among the most important are the Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre, held every two years in Turin. In the photo, former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev is shaking the hand of Presidium coordinator Olga Rendek in front of the Mangalica sausage stand at the 2004 Salone del Gusto.

Olga Rendek meets Michail Gorbaciov during the 2004 edition of Salone del Gusto

What is a Slow Food Presidia?

The Slow Food Presidia are projects sustaining quality production at risk of extinction, protecting unique regions and ecosystems, recovering traditional processing methods, safeguarding native breeds and local plant varieties.

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Credits: Story

Photos — Archivio Slow Food, Maurizio Milanesio

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