Tails & Trotters

by Adam Sawyer | Photo © Adam Sawyer

Pork is big in the Northwest; and it’s not just bacon. The movement towards whole-animal cooking has broadened many culinary comfort zones in recent years. Chefs in Cascadia are only fueling the fire by utilizing the highest quality local meats to their fullest mouthwatering potential. Now, foodies from Bellingham to Bend and Boise to Butte are lining up at local eateries to sample any swine-based morsel put on a plate.

A number of signature dishes are being produced, consumed and lauded, but what about the pork itself? Across the globe there are regional, artisanal products with reputations for excellence: Parmigiano Reggiano from Italy, Kobe beef from Japan, and the list goes on. Oregon farmer Aaron Silverman and his partner Mark Cockcroft wanted to do the same for pork in the Northwest. And they’ve accomplished it with Tails & Trotters, producing the first signature Northwest pork.

The renowned Jamón Ibérico ham inspired the idea. In Spain, the black-footed or “pata negra” pigs are allowed to roam the oak groves of the region where they are naturally fattened on acorns. And while the Northwest isn’t exactly a great place to grow acorns, Oregon is heaven for hazelnuts. So Aaron and Mark take Washington-raised pigs and finish them on Oregon hazelnuts.

Everything is sourced and produced locally. A partnership with Washington’s Pure Country Pork starts with pigs that are raised on non-GMO feeds. No antibiotics, growth hormones or growth stimulants are ever used. Then, a special finishing diet developed by Aaron, consisting largely of Oregon hazelnuts, produces the intramuscular and subcutaneous fat necessary for prosciutto. The result is a full line of specialty products and cuts with a flavor that is uniquely Pacific Northwest—a fitting progression for the nation’s new breadbasket.

In late 2012 what started out as a farmers market favorite became a brick-and-mortar butcher shop in Northeast Portland (at 525 NE 24th), complete with a sandwich counter.

Even if you haven’t made it to the Tails & Trotters shop, there’s a chance you’ve already sampled their wares. Portland’s Urban Farmer and Toro Bravo as well as Seattle’s Altura and Stumbling Goat Bistro are just a few of the restaurants in the Northwest currently sourcing from Tails & Trotters. They also ship, and their website has a list of current farmers markets and butcher shops that carry their products.

To learn more or to place an order, visit tailsandtrotters.com.