Just when you thought Cochon 555 couldn't get any more exciting, we have some more fun news: Nightwood chef Jason Vincent was just tapped to prepare a sixth pig for the event Sunday at the Blackstone Hotel. Well, a sixth and seventh pig.
Vincent won't actually compete against the previously announced chefs—Stephanie Izard, Andrew Zimmerman, Mike Sheerin, Chris Pandel and Michael Fiorello. Instead, he gets to roast two heritage hogs to be enjoyed by the masses in the Pig Roast. Vincent was tapped by founder Brady Lowe after Butcher & Larder owner Rob Levitt suggested he do it. And he's fine with not going up against the other chefs. "It'd be cool to compete but I'd rather just serve dinner," he said.
Vincent will get the pigs on Friday and has to have them ready by Sunday. His plan, although it may change, is to do a "shirts vs. skins" where he'll prepare both in the same way they make the pork belly at Nightwood, producing a succulent, fatty pig. The idea is to cure the pigs in salt and sugar for a day and then smoke them for about six hours. Then they remove all the bones and steam them over garlic, tomato, onion and other ingredients and then press the pigs to compact the fat, leaving them super lean and ready to slice.
So how is it "shirts vs. skins"? Vincent plans to remove the skin from one pig after it's steamed to make pork rinds that he'll build up around the pig."I guarantee it's not going to work but I'm going to give it my best shot," he said with a laugh.
Cochon 555 pits five chefs against each other to compete for the title of prince or princess of porc. The winner, decided by 20 local judges, including Levitt, Paul Kahan, Doug Sohn and Merlin Verrier, will go on to compete in the finals at the Grand Cochon at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.
· Cochon 555 Reveals Full Chef Lineup for Chicago [~EChi~]
· All Cochon 555 Coverage on Eater Chicago [~EChi~]
Jason Vincent [Photo: StarChefs]