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Getting a whole pig, advice for butchering?

Charcuterie

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#1 tikidoc

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 01:54 PM

We recently moved to rural Virginia, and have found a local farmer selling whole pastured hogs and we are buying one, about 400# on the hoof. They will deliver to a closely USDA approved butcher, and I could use some suggestions as to how to instruct the butcher, and any good resources online, so I can get the most out of the pig. In addition to the major cuts, I'm planning to ask for the extra fat, the caul fat, soup bones, probably some skin, and for all the scraps to be packaged in pieces rather than ground, so I can grind it myself for sausage. Any other tips? And good ideas for things to do with pig organ meats? Is it worth taking the head or should I just stick with the jowls (hubby is a bit squeamish about the head)?

Thanks!

#2 tim

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 02:32 PM

You will want to get the fat around the kidneys to render into leaf lard. It's wonderful for pastry.

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#3 Dave Hatfield

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 02:35 PM

Lots of good stuff in a pig.

Make sure you get the belly's whole so you can either slow cook them or cure your own bacon. (pork belly recipe is on my blog)

I'd keep the head & boil it then pick it apart to make head cheese. You should find some good recipes on the web. Also, don't forget the trotters, pickled pigs feet are a favorite of mine. The hocks are also a great cut, slowly cooked with beans they're ideal in winter.

Are you going to try for your own dry cured ham? It takes a while, but its worth it.

#4 heidih

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 02:48 PM

This prior topic on buying a hog direct from the farm may be of assistance.

#5 avaserfi

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 03:10 PM

That's a good size pig, but what breed is it? Also, how do you normally use your pork? Are you planning on curing anything, if so, what? Do you want whole muscles or want to butcher it yourself? You can always get the primal cuts and practice your butchery.

If you have them butcher it, make sure they remove the tenderloin before separating the mid-section and the ham. Some places don't and waste about 1/3 of the tenderloin cutting it off and leaving it in the ham. I would also make sure they leave the bones in the belly. There aren't too many, but many people scrap them along with their meat. Instead, leave them in and get all that good flavor in your bacon, braise or whatever.

As far as offal goes, I would take all of it. Liver is great for pate, kidney is good sauteed, the head is very good for a head cheese, braise or if you are adventurous porchetta di testa (pictured below). The ears fry up deliciously like cracklings and the tail can be treated similarly. The shanks braise very well and as mentioned the trotters add body to a soup. The heart is good for a braise or can be cured. If it is a less hairy breed you request everything skin on (if this is accommodated by the abattoir and butcher). Pork rinds aren't too much work, but are delicious and the skin will protect the shoulders and hams during long cooks, if that's what you are into.

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#6 djyee100

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 03:17 PM

If you get some pork shoulder with skin on it, you can make Pernil, as from this recently revived EGullet thread:
http://forums.egulle...c/57167-pernil/

I'll vote for headcheese, also. Just make sure hubby doesn't see you cooking it. If you put the finished headcheese in front of him, it will be a delicious, interesting pate or terrine with little crunchy bits (from cartilage, including the ears and snout).

I like the roasted pork liver that is sometimes available in Chinatown. It's marinated in an Asian sauce, then roasted and sliced (think of the Chinese roast duck treatment). I've always eaten it at room temp as a side dish with other items and steamed rice or noodles. Some people say the liver-y flavor is too strong. Maybe it's an acquired taste.

You're cooking the pig's feet, aren't you? The cold weather is perfect for making something hearty with pig's feet.

#7 sheepish

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 04:03 PM

Thats a big pig! I just butchered three Tamworths last week, about 90kg each (about 200lbs each?). At that size any joints and chops you get are generally too big for my use, although I did cut a few chops for comedy value!

I bone the loins and cure for 'breakfast' back bacon.

I keep the blade (I think in the US you call it Boston Butt) for pulled pork.

Belly is about half on the bone (the ribs) and half off. On the bone I keep for roasting. Off the bone I cure for pancetta style bacon.

Shoulders and most of the leg I mince (grind) for sausages and salami.

Some leg meat I package up to cook as lean pork in stir frys.

I keep the lower third of two brine cure for boiling hams. These are more than big enough to feed 6.

I keep the cheeks and brains. The rest of the head I hack decent bits of meat to go in the sausage pile. I like brawn but I'm the only one in the house that does and I still have some left in the freezer from last years pigs so the rest of the heads have gone for the dog, and various birds of prey.

Livers and kidneys I like to stir fry, or I might get round to some country style Pate with kidneys. It's gone in the freezer for now. I always have the best intentions for the lungs but most of them end up outside for the birds.

#8 sheepish

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 04:05 PM

You're cooking the pig's feet, aren't you? The cold weather is perfect for making something hearty with pig's feet.


I have the wrong pigs or I'm doing this wrong, but I can never get any meat off trotters. I keep them for stock. What recipes do you use?

#9 tikidoc

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 04:23 PM

Wow, thanks for all the suggestions - I'm taking notes for the sheet that goes to the butcher - they have a sheet you are supposed to fill out, but I'm going to attach an extra sheet. I'm going to try to keep pretty much everything, so yes, feet, head, etc. I've never had feet but I'm willing to give it a try. I'm asking for skin-on wherever possible.

Avaserfi, the pig is a 9 month old Tamsworth/Gloucestershire Old Spots cross, raised primarily on raw milk and pasture - minimal grain. Old Spots get pretty big so I guess he takes after that side of the family!

As for how we use pork, it is really pretty variable. We do pulled pork, roast Cuban style, grilled tenderloin. I recently picked up a book on charcuterie and we have a ceramic smoker (similar to a big green egg) so we are planning on doing our own smoking and curing. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a good and reasonably priced vacuum sealer for home use, so I think I will ask them to cut the primals into manageable chunks. No steaks but maybe 3 big pieces per side of the loin (bone in) and the shoulder and hams cut into ~5# pieces. The sides, I will get whole, since we will likely smoke/cure one side at a time.

Keep the advice coming!!!

Edited by tikidoc, 07 November 2011 - 04:42 PM.


#10 vice

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 06:39 PM


You're cooking the pig's feet, aren't you? The cold weather is perfect for making something hearty with pig's feet.


I have the wrong pigs or I'm doing this wrong, but I can never get any meat off trotters. I keep them for stock. What recipes do you use?

Doubt it's just you (or your pigs). Meat yield will depend entirely on where the trotters are lopped off.
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#11 Peter the eater

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 07:27 PM

Is it worth taking the head or should I just stick with the jowls (hubby is a bit squeamish about the head)?

I don't eat brains anymore but you must keep the jowls and the ears. Fresh double-thick chops are my favouritepart of a farm fresh pig, along with the belly.
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#12 djyee100

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 09:06 PM


You're cooking the pig's feet, aren't you? The cold weather is perfect for making something hearty with pig's feet.


I have the wrong pigs or I'm doing this wrong, but I can never get any meat off trotters. I keep them for stock. What recipes do you use?


There's not that much meat in pig's feet anyway. Mostly it's gelatinous, fatty skin. I have fond memories of it from my childhood, when my parents stewed it Asian-style. It was very warming for those New England winters. The sauce in this recipe is similar to how my parents cooked pig's feet, although they never bothered with niceties like mushrooms or eggs. I remember the base of garlic, ginger, soy, & five spice powder.
http://sunflower-rec...-pork-rice.html

The last time I cooked with a pig's foot, I tossed it into a braised beef dish to enrich the sauce. Before service I removed the bones and the skin. This recipe from the Zuni Cafe cookbook calls for a pig's foot if you use chicken stock instead of beef stock, but I'm pretty sure I used beef stock and a pig's foot. Is there such a thing as a beef stew that is too rich?
http://kayaksoup.blo...fe-brasato.html

High on my list for this winter is Gratin of Pig's Foot with Vin Jaune and Comte Cheese, from Paula Wolfert's Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking. The first page of the recipe is available on Googlebooks. After that, you can figure out how to make a gratin. Here, page 178:
http://books.google.com/books?id=HT6D2fD4qIwC&pg=PA178&lpg=PA178&dq=gratin+of+pig's+foot+with+vin+jaune+and+comte+cheese&source=bl&ots=GL-wfphVNj&sig=chgojZXT-FS4ITVoHZ4_pkj4We4&hl=en&ei=O6S4Tpu-GaXniALB35TmBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&sqi=2&ved=0CBoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

#13 budrichard

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 04:09 AM

We recently moved to rural Virginia, and have found a local farmer selling whole pastured hogs and we are buying one, about 400# on the hoof. They will deliver to a closely USDA approved butcher, and I could use some suggestions as to how to instruct the butcher, and any good resources online, so I can get the most out of the pig. In addition to the major cuts, I'm planning to ask for the extra fat, the caul fat, soup bones, probably some skin, and for all the scraps to be packaged in pieces rather than ground, so I can grind it myself for sausage. Any other tips? And good ideas for things to do with pig organ meats? Is it worth taking the head or should I just stick with the jowls (hubby is a bit squeamish about the head)?

Thanks!


First there is no "closely USDA approved butcher" but only meat processors who have USDA Inspectors on-site. The carcass is then stamped if inspected and approved.
Second, I know of no pig that's 400# in 9 months. Check your source for either weight or age. Market hogs go about 200#'s.
There have been a lot of good suggestions already on this thread, certainly the head whole or cracked to bone out the external fat and flesh for headcheese. I don't use the brain but the ears are good and crunchy. You can render the fat but its a big job as well as preparing the skin for cracklins. Most cuts are standard in the industry for the USA and you should have no problem. Do you have a big freezer to accommodate the animal?
Lastly, good luck!-Dick

#14 tikidoc

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 08:19 AM

Sorry, the word "closely" was a typo, should be close-by. Autocorrect strikes again.

And yes, we have a pretty big freezer. It fit most of a year old steer last year. And we have a couple old refrigerators we have acquired over the years that can be put into service if we need a little more freezer space.

Not sure on the size, I am going by what the farmer told me. Even if quite a bit smaller, the price is reasonable for a heritage breed pig (actually a cross of two heritage breeds), fed a diet that makes for healthy eating. I guess we'll see once it goes to the butcher. Our local high-end butcher (who is awesome, by the way, but I can't afford him for every day) who buys mostly local grass fed animals for his shop (including from Polyface Farm, which is fairly close) charges a lot more than what I will be paying for the pig and the butcher, even if I cut the estimated weight substantially.

#15 Country

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 08:46 AM

tikidoc, Up above, in a previous post, you mentioned that you do Cuban roast pork. If your recipe comes even close to the taste of the pork used in the Cuban sandwiches in Key West I'll gladly swap my Danish grandmother's old recipe for what she called "liver paste" (Pâté) using pork liver. Some of the best I ever had. :smile:

Edited to add: Polyface farm is close? Lucky you. Have you gone over there and visited?

Edited by Country, 08 November 2011 - 08:53 AM.


#16 tikidoc

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 09:31 AM

Country, I think the two most important ingredients for Cuban pork roast are time and good pork. But I'll dig up the recipe I have used and post it here. It's been a while since I made it. And I'd love a recipe for pork liver. I don't think I have ever eaten pork liver. Come to think of it, I think all the livers I have eaten have been from birds (or one kind of fish).

And yes, we have been to Polyface once, even briefly met Joel Salatin. He seems like a real character. We recently moved from a small farm in the Johnson City TN area to another small farm about 1/2 hour west of Richmond, 3 miles from the epicenter of the earthquake in August. Anyone want to buy a beautiful custom log home with a killer kitchen on 22 acres in TN, LOL? Anyway, we stopped at Polyface once on a trip between TN and VA. It's a fascinating place. Way off the beaten path - you have to take all kinds of narrow twisty roads to get to the farm. Looks kinda dumpy, honestly, but remarkably efficient in use of resources, and pretty doesn't grow livestock. One of our "to do" projects is building a chicken tractor based on Salatin's design, which is a moveable pen that you can use to have the birds pick over the manure of the cows and horses, making for healthier birds and pastures. Maybe next spring, when we get some broiler chicks. We just have a small flock of laying hens at the moment. We also learned from him about a breed of broilers that we want to try, the "Freedom Ranger", which puts on weight fairly quickly but acts like a fairly normal chicken, unlike the Cornish crosses used for most commercial birds. We raised a crop of them for the freezer once and they were freaks. They literally did not walk, just sat next to their feed bowl and ate and crapped in one location. No interest in "free ranging".

Anyone who lives in this part of the country who has an interest in farming, either as a fellow farmer or as a consumer, should try to stop by Polyface at some point (or at least take a look at Salatin's books).

#17 Country

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 10:30 AM

Tikidoc - I'm pretty swamped with stuff to do right now, but I'll post the liver paste recipe later. It's an old recipe that includes putting the liver through a hand grinder three times.... But, there are probably easier ways to do it with modern appliances. :smile:

I know what you mean, raising those Cornish crosses. Years ago, I grew them for a couple of years and they could barely get around outside. By the time they were ready to be killed they'd worn off all their breast feathers. Pitiful, really. More meat, and decent meat, but it wasn't a pretty sight seeing them trying to get around.

#18 Mr Holloway

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 10:40 AM

Great thread
Would love to try this myself someday.
Just got a new grinder that would take care of a good chunk of the pig :smile:

Shane

#19 vengroff

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 10:41 AM

I agree with others that 400+ lbs is a monster hog. The biggest I've ever handled whole was 325 lb. It took four of us to carry it, not just because of the weight but also the sheer size.

If you decide to back out of using the whole head but are going to be curing, you can still make some great guanciale from the jowels.
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#20 tikidoc

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 12:26 PM

Country, no hurry, the hog doesn't even go to the butcher until the first week of December, so we won't have it until a couple weeks later. And we are never growing Cornish crosses again. They stink, they have a really high mortality rate compared to other chickens, and they are just disgusting creatures. Not worth it for the meat, and when I eat them I just picture those nasty creatures wallowing in their own poop. I threw away the skin when I ate them for that reason. Blech.

Vengroff, I contacted the farmer and this is what she said:

" I used the formula on this site http://www.thepigsit...ithout-a-scale. He has a 53 inch girth and 59 inch length. Using the formula 53 inches squared gives me 2,809 multiplied by length gives me 165,731, divided by 400 equals 414.33 pounds. His weight. Hanging weight is usually 75%, this web site says 72%. So multiply 414.33 pounds by 72% and that will give a hanging weight of 298.52 pounds."

And "I do feed different than the average hog feeder, not too many have milk cows to feed raw milk :) We do not feed garbage. They are feed quality grass and grass hay too, I eat them too so I am feeding them what I want to eat. My hogs do not smell because they are healthy. I have heard hogs fed garbage and on concrete and small pens can stink but mine don't. They are tame and love scratches so they live a good life outside on dirt not concrete where they can be hogs. Another thing, mine actually have room to get exercise."

Looking forward to non-supermarket pork.

#21 djyee100

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 07:33 PM

There have been a lot of good suggestions already on this thread, certainly the head whole or cracked to bone out the external fat and flesh for headcheese.


You might want to ask the butcher to split the head and remove the brain, if you are making headcheese. Also to ask the butcher to split the feet for easier handling.

Meanwhile, I came across this recipe for country pate, using fresh pork liver, while flipping through Susan Loomis' Cooking At Home On Rue Tatin.
http://www.epicuriou...Campagne-105269

#22 vengroff

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 08:47 AM

Vengroff, I contacted the farmer and this is what she said:

" I used the formula on this site http://www.thepigsit...ithout-a-scale. He has a 53 inch girth and 59 inch length. Using the formula 53 inches squared gives me 2,809 multiplied by length gives me 165,731, divided by 400 equals 414.33 pounds. His weight. Hanging weight is usually 75%, this web site says 72%. So multiply 414.33 pounds by 72% and that will give a hanging weight of 298.52 pounds."


That makes sense. I was thinking hanging weight. In any case, if your experience is anything like mine was you will be amazed just how large and unruly a hog that size is on the butchering table.
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#23 ScoopKW

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 11:15 AM

This thread gives new dimension to "Go big or go home."
Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

#24 tikidoc

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 11:49 AM


Vengroff, I contacted the farmer and this is what she said:

" I used the formula on this site http://www.thepigsit...ithout-a-scale. He has a 53 inch girth and 59 inch length. Using the formula 53 inches squared gives me 2,809 multiplied by length gives me 165,731, divided by 400 equals 414.33 pounds. His weight. Hanging weight is usually 75%, this web site says 72%. So multiply 414.33 pounds by 72% and that will give a hanging weight of 298.52 pounds."


That makes sense. I was thinking hanging weight. In any case, if your experience is anything like mine was you will be amazed just how large and unruly a hog that size is on the butchering table.


No I won't, because I will not see the pig until he is in neat little vacuum packed packages!

The chronology - I pay the farmer, the farmer delivers the pig to the butcher, the butcher processes the pig, I pay the butcher for their services and pick up the packages!

I'll do my own chickens (not happily) but that's my limit!

#25 budrichard

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 07:23 AM

"No I won't, because I will not see the pig until he is in neat little vacuum packed packages!"

Please explain how your processors packages? I have never seen any processor use anything other than standard butcher paper and tape.-Dick

#26 tikidoc

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 02:02 PM

I have not used this processor before, but my understanding is all the meat will be in flexible vacuum packages, like you often see with larger cuts of meat (whole tenderloins or briskets, for example) in the big box stores. We have used to other butchers (in another state) and that is what we got. Stuff stays good in the freezer longer, and less chance of freezer burn.

#27 Country

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 02:43 PM

Generally called Cryovac. the local slaughterhouse, butchershop, meat store here has been using it for years. Works great - so long as no punctures. Sharp bone ends should be covered with butcher paper before packing. Pretty much the same as a Food Saver, only industrial scale.

#28 tikidoc

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 07:38 AM

Thanks, Country, for some reason, I just could not come up with the word Cryovac!

#29 Country

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Posted 11 November 2011 - 10:07 AM

Sometimes I can't remember it either! :biggrin:





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