Pick Your Piece Of Pork At Mercat A La Planxa | Tasting Table Chicago

Pick your piece of pork at Mercat a la Planxa

"When each piece is gone, it's gone."

Chef Cory Morris is one of the competitors at this year's Cochon 555, the competition that challenges chefs to make creative dishes from an entire heirloom hog.

Lucky for his customers at Mercat a la Planxa, he needed a little bit of practice.

In the weeks leading up to the competition, he's gotten in a 50-pound porker each Saturday. He makes six or seven specials that change each week–twenty dishes in total. There's a pig-shaped chalkboard in the kitchen, and when each piece is crossed out, that's all folks.

When we visited, we tried succulent braised ribs with Nora Chili BBQ sauce ($20) and savored funky, fall-apart-tender pig's head cassoulet with white beans ($18). We didn't quite have the guts to order the whole rioja-braised leg ($90), but we saw (and smelled) it go by our table.

Braised pork ribs

"Our butchering is getting better," Morris laughs. Plus, the restaurant is learning a lot about its customers. "One week, we deboned the face and made a porchetta de testa and put it on a charcuterie plate with cornichons and whole grain mustard. No one ordered it. The chefs ate more than anyone."

Last Saturday? The head sold out. As did everything else by about 6:45.

Now you know. Get there early.