There’s something fascinating about the dichotomy of pork. It’s a humble meat, an animal that provides incredible yield and staying power, but it’s often also a sort of afterthought, or a mere flavor accent, at many restaurants.
For instance, bacon and its fancy cousin, pork belly. Cured pork products, like using thin-shaved prosciutto to wrap things with, or ham.
The rest of “the other white meat,” however, doesn’t often get the recognition it deserves in fine dining. Ribs are too messy for white tablecloths, and tenderloins and thick-cut chops often take a back seat to other, more top-of-mind meats with a more diverse range of available cuts, like crowd-pleasing chicken or luxurious beef.
That will all soon change. On Friday, August 23, the full hog is getting its day. Chef Guy Reuge, one of Long Island’s most accomplished, celebrated chefs, is bringing back his annual pig roast at Restaurant Mirabelle at the Three Village Inn.
Read more: Counting Our Lessing’s
Historically, this culinary event unites highbrow and lowbrow in terms of marrying this French-born-and-trained chef’s highly technical background and discerning sourcing. However, this summer, it’s introducing a whole new set of flavors at a time when cultural acceptance and unity is more important than ever.
“Working around Spanish-speaking people as I have, I realized that they use a lot of pork in their respective countries of origin … and they do it wonderfully,” says Reuge. “Crackling chicharrones in Mexico, garlicky lechon asado in Cuba, tender shredded pork for pupusas in El Salvador … So this year, the inspiration for the pig roasts comes from Central and South America, and my coworkers that have generously shared their traditions with me while I ask a ton of questions to better understand them.”
“I’ll be using ingredients from those regions, wonderful things,” he continues, “like aji amarillo, dark chocolate, and other bounties.”
This departure from his usual fusion of French technique and American flavor for the annual pig roast stems from how the tradition came to be in the first place.
“At Lessing’s, we are always looking for exciting things to do to bring our customers together, and a summer outdoor pig roast came naturally to me,” says Reuge. “It’s an excuse to break from routine and break boundaries, getting staff and customers to bond over something unusual.”
“I began by basing it on a classic barbecue, of course making the pig king for a night,” he says. “The decision of what to do is pure fantasy. I want for people to enjoy the night as well as the food. I want sweet and spicy, soft and crackling, rich and lean, smokey and roasted. I imagined myself in a field in Texas and thought of what cowboys might eat around a bonfire with country music and embers in the air, couples dancing and laughing, and then I did the work to make the dishes authentic to America.”
In the past, he’s elevated classics like potato salad, grits, mac and cheese, and sloppy Joes, as sides. Buttermilk marinated fried chicken with smoked paprika and poached shrimp cocktail and melt-in-your-mouth St. Louis ribs have also been staples.
But this year, the stations take a turn to include salsa verde for the ribs and his own version of mole sauce for the chicken. Tacos of pork confit with avocado cream, and roasted plantains and chorizos, Guatemalan-style sweet potatoes, shrimp empanadas, and salads like pico de gallo and jicama and corn join them.
Fluke and scallop ceviche add another refreshing angle, well-accompanied by the included red and white house sangrias that has always been on the menu—plus the unlimited Mexican beer and tropical juices like guava and mango that are making their premier. Chilean Malbec and Spanish Rioja will be poured freely as well as part of the all-inclusive $58 per adult package.
For dessert lovers, there will be fruit salad and ice cream as usual, but churros with chocolate sauce and flan Atigueno will be new to the spread.
But that’s all getting ahead of ourselves, because most importantly, the starring suckling pigs will incorporate the bold spices of the south even as they’re cooked in the French and spit-roasted methods that make their flesh so tender, succulent and juicy—and their skins shatter with a satisfying crunch.
“I’m very particular about the pigs I use for this,” says Reuge. “I deal with a specific supplier and my contact there has actually worked for me as a chef, so he understands my needs. He’s able to source the right size piglets and porcelets from different humane, family farms, including Gaspor Farm in Quebec, who specializes in milk-fed pork”—essentially, the veal of pork. Breeds are white-hair, antibiotic- and hormone-free and from prestigious stock: Duroc, Landrace, and Yorkshire.
“I try to keep the suckling pigs at around 30 pounds, but the porcelet,” he says, “is a larger animal that I like for roasting the legs and racks. They’re meaty and very sweet-tasting, and of course, both of them are very tender!”
So although guests to the often sold-out, all-you-can-meat fest have come to look forward to the live music and all-American eats each summer, we’re especially looking forward to hamming it up on the lawn and pigging out at it this year.
Tickets are $58 per person and include unlimited wine, beer and sangria. Children are welcome to attend, as well, for $20 per child. To reserve your ticket, please call Mirabelle directly at the Three Village Inn at (631) 751-0555.