Pig Out 

Can't believe you ate the whole thing? Believe it. For the upcoming Swine & Wine Dinner at Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, you'll be going whole hog — from nose to tail. (And, yes, that does include pig brains.)

"We're trying to take the fear out of it," explains Michael Hudman, who owns the East Memphis restaurant with Andrew Ticer.

When Hudman and Ticer were studying cooking in Italy, they were treated to a pig harvest dinner by their host family. Amazed at how the entire pig was used in the meal, they vowed to recreate the experience when they opened their own restaurant. And so they did. Last year's dinner was such a hit that they're expanding this year's to two nights, Wednesday, February 3rd, and Thursday, February 4th.

The dinner will include eight courses using Newman Farm products. There will be a prosciutto plate with pig's head cooked sous vide, plus head cheese roasted in garlic and deep-fried. Pig ears will serve as garnishes. A take on the BLT will feature jowls that have been cured for seven days accompanied by a stew that incorporates the entire pig. ("It's one big pig in one little bowl," Hudman says.) The offal — liver, kidney, heart — will be served with pasta and caramelized tomato. The fish course is shrimp wrapped in lardo. Skewers (rosemary, perhaps) will deliver the fried brain, and the pork belly comes via a clever reinterpretation of bacon and eggs in ravioli filled with egg yolk and pork belly. "To bring it home," Hudman says, they're serving Southern-style barbecue ribs.

And then there's dessert (yep, there's no escaping it): roasted apple donuts served with caramel made with pig's fat and a ham-hock panna cotta, using Benton Farm bacon and ham, with fig marmalade.

The dinner, Hudman says, has sparked a tremendous amount of creativity in his kitchen: "We're all goofy about pig."

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