The “Bigorre” or “Noir de Bigorre” is a very ancient European breed of black pig, with a black hide and narrow, horizontal ears. Although known for its strength and robustness, this is a likeable creature due to a calm temperament and domestic nature.
In the olden days, a pork festival was held sometime between November and March. The whole village would participate in the ritual of preparing the entire pig – leaving nothing to waste. Kidneys, liver, brains, trotters, ears and even the tail were used. The internal organs were preserved to make garlic sausage and pâtés, and tripe was used for the natural casings of sausages, garlic sausage, saveloys, black pudding and chitterling sausages. Even the blood was used to make black pudding (or blood sausage). This traditional rural festival enabled families to make provisions to last most of the year. Even today festivals celebrating Noir de Bigorre still exist, such as St. Lary’s.
This breed was fairly dominant until the 1970’s, as it’s not suited to intensive livestock farming, they quickly began to disappear until a handful of dedicated supporters set out to “save the beast” in the 80’s. Since the early 1990’s, approximately fifty breeders, two ham curers and five pork butcher-caterers formed a conservation association. They have since establish strict specifications for the care of and production of Noir de Bigorre, thus sustaining the breed for future generations.
Noire de Bigorre cold cuts are prepared according to a strict set of specifications, and matured for 18 to 24 months. These are then hand sliced into slivers of ham and served at room temperature. This is a pork that is meant to be savored fully.
In the Pyrenees region, the Noire de Bigorre breed has established its pedigree in the world of gastronomy…which means it deserves more than its common name, “pig”!
Noir de Bigorre products can be found in France, Andorra, Belgium, the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Japan.“Noir de Bigorre” has become a product which is emblematic of the Pyrénées region.