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For home cooks who love bacon, ribs and chops, there's good news. Through custom butcher shops and farmers markets, consumers can now buy the same artisanal, pasture-raised pork that is served at some of the Bay Area's top restaurants, from A16 in San Francisco to Rosso in Santa Rosa.

Mark Pasternak of Devil's Gulch Ranch in Nicasio and Pete Langley of Langley Farms in Petaluma are the dynamic duo behind DG-Langley Farms Brand pork.

"The chefs rave about the flavor of our pig," said Langley, a Sonoma County native who has been raising pigs since he was 12. "It's definitely distinguishable. It has a richer flavor and more of the marbling."

Pasternak made his name by raising rabbits, but he's also been raising pork at Devil's Gulch since 1971.

"All of your commercial pigs coming out of Iowa have never seen the light of day and never eaten anything that didn't have antibiotics in it," he said. "Our pigs are not factory farmed."

This month, the DG-Langley Farms pork was showcased in dishes created by Napa Valley chefs Cindy Pawlcyn and Jason Kupper during the Cochon 555 competition in Napa.

In addition, DG-Langley Farms provides the pork for the Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg and for chef/owner Charlie Palmer's annual Pigs & Pinot event, now in its ninth year. This year's sold-out Pigs & Pinot fundraiser will take place March 21 and 22 at the Hotel Healdsburg and adjacent venues.

"Mark is one of the most passionate pig farmers I've ever worked with," Palmer said. "Knowing the source of your product is paramount around the country right now, but nowhere more so than in Sonoma County."

Both Langley and Pasternak cross-breed heritage pigs such as Berkshire, Gloucestershire, Old Spot, Duroc and Yorkshire for bigger, healthier offpspring.

"When you combine two different breeds, it promotes a little more growth," Langley said. "So you get the best of both worlds."

Once the piglets are weaned at their home ranches, they are moved to two Petaluma pastures, where they are finished on a combination of grass, milk, spent grain, bread and tortillas.

"When you put them out on pasture and open land, they get more exercise, and you have to keep them fed really well," Langley said. "It makes a happier pig."

DG-Langley Farms sends about 5 to 20 pigs a week to be harvested in the Central Valley. The pigs range from small, 80-pound roasters to large, 270-pounders.

"The chefs like them bigger than the standard for the commercial industry," Langley said. "They like more fat coverage, to add flavor to the meat."

At Green Goose Farm in Petaluma, Roy Smith and Rebecca Black raise pigs not only for food but to condition the land, turning the grasses and annual oats into a perennial pasture.

"The pig has a plow in the front and a manure spreader in the back end," Smith said. "They do the work for us."

Like other local pork producers, Smith feeds his pigs with products gleaned from local breweries, creameries and produce markets.

"In the old days, pigs were the recyclers," he said. "Every grocery had pig farmers at the back door, and nothing would be wasted."

At Green Goose Farm, consumers can purchase either a half or a whole pig ahead of time. When ready, the pigs are harvested at the farm, then butchered by Ibleto Meats of Cotati. (greengoosefarm.iconosites.com).

At True Grass Farms in Valley Ford, Guido Frosini raises Large Black and Tamworth pigs along with his Wagyu cattle.

"This year, we're finishing 60 pigs, and the first batch will be ready in a month," he said. "We feed them a diet of whey, cheese, bread, yogurt and vegetable scraps."

The True Grass pork is sold at farmers markets all over the Bay Area, including seasonal markets in Occidental and Point Reyes. You can also order a half or a whole pig from the farm. (truegrassfarms.com).

Once a month, True Grass offers a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box that includes a selection of meat products. (truegrassfarms.com)

"We have 45 customers," Frosini said. "They support us, and we support them. ... They get the freshest product."

DG-Langley pork is sold at the Marin Civic Center Market Sunday in San Rafael, at Cooper's Market in Novato and at the Victorian Farmstead's new butcher shop in Sebastopol's Community Market.


This recipe is from Chef Charlie Palmer of the Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg.

Prosciutto-Crusted Asparagus with Egg Toast and Sherry-Shallot Vinaigrette

Makes 4 servings

For the vinaigrette:

1/2 cup minced shallots

1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cups honey

1/2 cups sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

For asparagus:

20 stalks asparagus

20 slices prosciutto

For egg toasts:

4 slices (3/4-inch thick) brioche

—Unsalted butter

4 large eggs

For salad and garnish:

1 head fris?

2 handfuls baby arugula

— Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

For vinaigrette: Gently sweat the shallots in 2 tablespoons of the oil with a good pinch of salt; don't cook them tender, just heat them through to release their flavor. Add the honey, and cook just until it begins to bubble. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vinegar and mustard, then the remaining oil. Season to taste with salt and white pepper, then pour into a container with a tight-fitting lid and store in the refrigerator.

For asparagus and egg toasts: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and oil it lightly. Trim and peel the asparagus. Roll each stalk in a slice of prosciutto and place it on the baking sheet. Place the asparagus in the oven, and put in another baking sheet to heat for 5 minutes. Cook the asparagus for 10 to 12 minutes, depending on size.

Meanwhile, lightly toast the brioche slices.

Use a 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter to cut a hole in the center of each toast; reserve the punched-out rounds.

Remove the empty pan from the oven and rub it with butter. Arrange the brioche slices and rounds on the pan. Crack an egg into the center of each slice and season with salt and pepper. Bake just until the egg whites have set, about 5 minutes.

To serve: Dress the fris? and arugula with enough of the vinaigrette to coat the leaves; season to taste with salt and pepper. Place 5 asparagus stalks on each plate and drizzle vinaigrette over the asparagus and around the plates. Arrange some salad over each portion of asparagus, then top with an egg toast, placing the round piece of toast on the side. Grate cheese over everything and serve immediately.


This recipe is from Dustin Valette of the Dry Creek Kitchen. "Everyone has had the classic Surf and Turf," Valette said. "This one is your classic recipe only enhanced. The key to this dish is finding the best scallops and pork belly." Violet mustard is a purple mustard from western France, available online or at high-end grocery stores.

Surf 'n Turf (Caramelized Scallops with Crispy Bacon and Black Trumpet Mushrooms)

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 pound fresh pork belly, skin off

1 onion, peeled and diced small

1 carrot, peeled and cut into eighths

1 fennel bulb, cut into eighths (reserve the top fronds)

1 whole head garlic, cut into half

1 bunch fresh thyme

1/2 cup white wine

2 cups fresh chicken stock

2 pounds fresh scallops (U10, lip removed)

1 pound baby carrots, peeled and tops trimmed

1/2 pound black trumpet mushrooms, cleaned

1 ounce violet nustard

— Blend oil for cooking

— Kosher salt

— Fresh ground black pepper

To cook the belly: First start by making sure the pork belly is of good quality and the skin has been removed. Season the belly lightly with salt and pepper and saut?in a large saut?pan until it is golden brown, about 5 minutes per side.

Remove from the pan, deglaze with the white wine and place in a deep casserole dish, add half the onions, fennel, garlic, carrots, thyme, and coriander.

Bring 2 quarts of the chicken stock to a boil in a separate pot and pour over the belly. Wrap with aluminum foil and cook at 325 for approximately 2-3 hours, or until the belly is tender. Once cooked, allow the belly to cool in the liquid overnight.

Once cooled overnight, remove from the liquid and slice the belly into 1/2-inch thick slices.

For Black Trumpet Mushrooms:

Start by aggressively cleaning the mushrooms, rinsing several times in warm water to remove any dirt that may have collected.

Once cleaned toss in a bowl with olive oil and season; roast the mushrooms for 15 minutes at 375 or until tender. Reserve warm for later use.

For cooking: Start by seasoning the belly and scallops with kosher salt and fresh pepper; then in a hot pan, drizzle a little blend oil in and sear the belly first. The belly should turn a golden brown color, remove and reserve for later use.

In the same pan, add the scallops and sear to a medium rare; remove and keep warm.

Plating: Make sure that your plates have first been pre-warmed. Starting just off center of the plate, place the black trumpet mushrooms in a neat pile. Place the belly and scallops neatly around the mushrooms. Finish the plate with a little violet mustard.

You can reach Staff Writer Diane Peterson at 521-5287 or diane.peterson@pressdemocrat.com.

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