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Half a pig, need ideas


Peter the eater
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This is my pig:

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Pig is a 300lb female Yorkshire (I think) and her days are numbered. We raised pig this summer on Cape Breton Island at the inlaws' farm which was a new experience for me to say the least. As a rural wannabe I am very excited about splitting a full pig with someone but have never done so. It will be like getting one hundred times more pork than ever before, all at once.

I'm hoping to participate fully in the "processing" if our schedules permit (its a 5 hour drive to the farm) and to share my experience here in an appropriate manner (no porcine snuff). I've been reading some great material here and elsewhere about all things pig but still need ideas, strategies, stories etc. to deal with the impending bounty.

So what would you do with half a pig?

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Do you get the half with the head on?

You might want to consult HFW's online course - excellent, and well worth the money, http://shop.rivercottage.net/rcv2/shop/onl...op=courses#1195

Many things you can do:

a) (which I just did) Get together with the other half, invite 300 people, spit roast for 12 hours and serve pig in a bun to 300 people

b) Butcher and freeze. Get a big freezer

c) Make ham from the hind leg, and bacon from the back and some of the belly. Make brawn (headcheese) form the head, and sausages from the non-roasting bits, not forgettting pate form the liver...something like 20lb ham (for Xmas), 20lbs frying sausagesm 30lbs salamis and drying sausages, 20lbs bacon, 30lbs roasting joints and the rest bone waste and scraps...with some goodies like hocks and trotters and brawn

d) Buy "Nose to Tail Eating" and "Beyiond Nose to Tail Eating" by Fergus Henderson (of St John) for inspiration, and the mysteries of "trotter gear", http://www.amazon.com/Whole-Beast-Nose-Tai...92815458&sr=8-1

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Edited by jackal10 (log)
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I just butchered two hogs myself and have been busy for the last week making all sorts of wonderful things. The best thing to do is to get a copy of the book "Charcuterie" by Ruhlman -- it will tell you how to use everything. From the book, I made salami, dry salted hams, andouille, real frankfurters (with the fat), various types of bacon (all are great), and more. I also made lard - perfect for pie crusts (and donuts fried in the lard while we made it!). Finally, I made scrapple (one of my favorites) using the scraps from the head and organ meat (recipe not in the book unfortunately but basically involves gently simmering the meat on bones, deboning and grinding/chopping it, adding back to the broth, then adding cornmeal and flour -- sort of like an American polenta with pork, then sliced and fried). Much was frozen as fresh pork.

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150 pounds of blank canvas oink - lucky you! (seriously)

The others have already covered most of what I would have suggested but the big preliminary decision really is: am I going to share this or is this going to be just for my family?

I'm assuming the latter. Immediate consumption of some of it obviously, but pork to be broken down and IQF using the vacuum sealer, pork to be preserved (e.g. ham/prosciutto, sausages, lardo, bacon/pancetta, lomo), rendered fat, bones for stock, and all that crackling. Bladder to cook a chicken with, blood for morcilla. Shouldn't really be that much left (maybe some hair and some bits that you can't really use).

How are you dividing the offal? I'd let someone else call dibs on the brain and the lungs but would try and keep everything else.

Don't forget to make gelatin because there's always room for jell-o.

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When you say "half," do you mean you are going to fully break it down and part it out, splitting by weight? Tough to spit-roast half a pig, too :smile: . If you're going to be breaking it down and are just looking for ideas for the more "exotic" parts, I'll second (or is it third?) Nose-to-tail eating. While Ruhlman's book is great for things like shoulder, loin, etc., Henderson is more focused on the offal.

Edited by Chris Hennes (log)

Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org

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Actually, I've changed my mind. That pig is too cute to eat, why don't you give her an early retirement and send her down to me. The weather here is mild 11 months of the year and there is plenty of places to wallow. I'll take very good care of her, I promise.

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Excellent suggestions.

I know I need to buy and read a book, soon. "Charcuterie" by Ruhlman and Hugh "Fearlessly-Eatsitall" Fearnley-Whittingstall are on the short list. I have been reading some really old books form the 1950's and 60's because they are in the house. Come to think of it, I don't think I have bought an actual cookbook since joining eG!

I am going halvsies with the father-in-law but I don't think he's very interested in the "under appreciated" bits. If I can be there for the "big moment" I'll try to retain casings, offal, hocks, trotters, etc. as best I can. The senior butcher has dibs on the head, I think.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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I just got my first half a pig this summer (Berkshire as well). I butchered it myself. Loads of fun (although I have done deer, lambs, half a cow previous to the pig). For the past year I've been buying my meat farm-direct in half and whole animals (slaughtered first, though).

I highly recommend freezing and then vacuum-sealing the cuts. Freeze first, then vacuum-seal (so you don't squeeze out a bunch of liquid from the meat). I also weighed out parcels of shoulder, fat, and the like for the various sausage recipes that I was interested in making and labeled them as for such, so no confusion when I go to make the recipes (not that I can't change my mind and use the parts for other things). I cut the belly into several pieces for bacon, salt pork, and roasting (so I didn't have to defrost the whole thing at once). Save some nice thick pieces of back fat for lardo. Save any scraps of fat for rendering into lard. Don't forget about the leaf lard and caul fat. Don't forget about the spleen. I cut the ham in half, as a whole ham just seemed too big. I already brined and smoked one of the ham halves for a party and it was fabulous. I cut a variety of roasts and chops. Chops were individually vacuum-sealed, so as to make it easy to cook for one, two, three, or more, depending on who is around (also defrost easier as singles). Most of the organ meats freeze well--for liver, cut it into a couple of pieces, unless you're planning a huge liver fest or giant paté. Eat the kidneys right away (Fergus Henderson's lamb kidney's recipes work great for pork-but soak them first).

You said the butcher's taking the head, but see if you can get the jowls off the head (or at least one jowl).

If you can get the blood, make blood sausage (one of my favorite things in the world, and unfortunately the slaughterhouse here would not release the blood).

Absolutely get Fearnley-Whittingstall's Meat Cookbook. It is my new favorite cookbook.

Hope that helps!

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I just got my first half a pig this summer (Berkshire as well). I butchered it myself. Loads of fun (although I have done deer, lambs, half a cow previous to the pig). For the past year I've been buying my meat farm-direct in half and whole animals (slaughtered first, though).

I highly recommend freezing and then vacuum-sealing the cuts. Freeze first, then vacuum-seal (so you don't squeeze out a bunch of liquid from the meat). I also weighed out parcels of shoulder, fat, and the like for the various sausage recipes that I was interested in making and labeled them as for such, so no confusion when I go to make the recipes (not that I can't change my mind and use the parts for other things). I cut the belly into several pieces for bacon, salt pork, and roasting (so I didn't have to defrost the whole thing at once). Save some nice thick pieces of back fat for lardo. Save any scraps of fat for rendering into lard. Don't forget about the leaf lard and caul fat. Don't forget about the spleen. I cut the ham in half, as a whole ham just seemed too big. I already brined and smoked one of the ham halves for a party and it was fabulous. I cut a variety of roasts and chops. Chops were individually vacuum-sealed, so as to make it easy to cook for one, two, three, or more, depending on who is around (also defrost easier as singles). Most of the organ meats freeze well--for liver, cut it into a couple of pieces, unless you're planning a huge liver fest or giant paté. Eat the kidneys right away (Fergus Henderson's lamb kidney's recipes work great for pork-but soak them first).

You said the butcher's taking the head, but see if you can get the jowls off the head (or at least one jowl).

If you can get the blood, make blood sausage (one of my favorite things in the world, and unfortunately the slaughterhouse here would not release the blood).

Absolutely get Fearnley-Whittingstall's Meat Cookbook. It is my new favorite cookbook.

Hope that helps!

Thank you so much AFH, I respect your enthusiasm in a big way. I am still so excited and bewildered by your recent feast of variety meats. I actually had a dream the other night where I was hunting with dynamite in a petting zoo, as I mentioned on your thread. I am convinced that the best stuff at the grocery store is not priced in accordance with its worth, and that what the populace perceives as the best part is only the tip of the animal iceberg.

More to come . . .

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Did my first half pig last February. In my case we collectively did two whole pigs under the expert direction of Odine a local farmer's wife. The pigs were organic raised within 1/4 mile of where we did our cutting up. They had been slaughtered at a licensed abattoir for health reasons.

This being France we did it their way and ended up curing or preserving almost all of the pig. We ate the fillets for dinner and I kept half a belly for roasting, the rest was preserved.

Roughly speaking we made:

Dry Sausages - 5 kinds. Toulouse, Chorizo, saucisson, Mild Italian (my recipe. I gave some to my French compatriots & they pronounced it good.) and Copa. (Copa is a Corsican specialty.)

Pates - 3 kinds. Natural (just Salt & pepper), Bay (s&P plus bay leaves) Espice (A spice mix). These pates were all canned using an ancient canning machine then cooked for several hours.

Fritons- These were also canned and used up all the odd bits plus the head (the head had been boiled until the meat was falling of then picked clean)

Bacon - Some kept as salt pork, some smoked. (also rolled some to make Ventriche which is a local delicacy.)

Ham- My ham is still aging & I will pick it up next February when we do the next pig.

We also made couennes which is belly pork skin which has been comfited. rolled up and bottled. (great stuff for enriching stews & the like). I kept a lot of skin & froze it for later use as crackling.

And, finally, we rendered a lot of fat for lard. I didn't take too much as I use duck fat more than lard.

We did this over two days, all by hand except for an grinder for preparing the sausage meat. The lunches & the dinner in the farm house were as much fun as the butchering.

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err...no,

I was raised reasonably but not meshuganer kosher, and I have very frum relatives, who will not eat my food. I've not kept Kosher since leaving home for University, over 40 years ago. Nor am I vegetarian. I guess http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_of_Faith (man invented God, not the other way round) best describes my beliefs now.

That is Matt, the College's Head Chef in the photo above carving the pig.

The pig was a saddleback, raised by one of my neighbors. I'm hoping for some of its sister soon.

Besides I like porky goodness, What an adventure you will have!

I do recommend for clarity the Hugh Fiercely Whipped River Cottage Pig-in-a-day online course and DVD, URL above.

Edited by jackal10 (log)
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  • 3 weeks later...

The pig is dead, long live the pig!

As it turns out, the headshot above is the last known photograph of my pig as she met her maker on the weekend. Unfortunately, due to Hurricane Noel, I wasn't able to be there but I'm driving up this weekend to collect my cut(s). I'm not sure what bits and pieces I'll get in addition to the basic "half pig." I'll also be "whacking" a number chickens and turkeys . . . so stay tuned. I'm so excited . . . I don't get out much.

Edited by Peter the eater (log)

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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  • 2 weeks later...

My freezer is finally full of pig!

Here's what I wound up getting:

-both shoulders

-lots of belly

-all the ribs

-four hocks

-a dozen or so chops

-one giant ham

-a ten pound frozen bag labeled "MISC"

The shoulders were frozen in fairly inconvenient 30 lb chunks. I tried sawing by hand but it was too much work. My band saw is way too small. When I'm ready I think I'll thaw a whole shoulder out and butcher it for roasts and sausages.

The ham is curing in brine, as was the belly which I got as frozen thick cut bacon.

I'm pretty sure the misc. bag is just irregular cuts from the chops, as opposed to tongue, liver, etc.

I figure I have around 130 lb of pork which should last quite a while. My ambition is to share pix as I work my way through the freezer, if there is interest.

As always, suggestions are much appreciated.

Oink.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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How you got some of the oink somewhat bites: a 10 pound frozen bag labeled "misc" and 30 pound blocks of shoulder?

I'm in for photos. For starters how about some of your proto-ham and bacon?

Well, I can't really complain. All I did was build the pig a modest shed and some fencing plus feed him a few times. I might adds that pig lived on my wife's family farm 4 hours away. My father-in-law (hereafter referred to as FIL) bought all the feed and lugged it along with water to the pen, all summer. And FIL lined up the butcher who does things his own way. I needed to be there in person to collect the things no one else cared to collect. So be it . . . next year we may get a Berkshire.

I have a few pix to upload . . . I'll be back . . .

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Just thsi weekend I helped with the last of a neighbors pigs.

Legs to ham

Belly to bacon and ribs

Head to brawn (headcheese)

Liver to pate and liver sausages

Rest ground for sausages

Sounds like fun. May I ask what your recipe for ham is? And do the front legs go in too or are they ground up?

Have you done tongue, cheeks or ears?

And do I recall correctly from elsewhere on eG you made some outstanding pork belly confit?

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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  • 1 month later...

My pig continues to bring me great joy!

Over the Christmas break I took the leg out of the brine and let it simmer for many, many hours in fresh water with celery, onions and black peppercorns. The parents-in-law have a very nice and very new wood stove that I was hoping to use but since it wasn't yet seasoned/broken-in we used the propane stove:

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Here's the stove we'll use next time:

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After the fresh water got to the bone, the leg was hung overnight in a mesh bag in the cool garage to dry out.

Tonight we tried some of the ham - a slab was roasted at 350F for an hour and a half with a few dried herbs on top for a crunchy crust atop the thin layer of subcutaneous fat. I am pleased with the results:

gallery_42214_5579_72196.jpg

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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  • 9 months later...

It's a new autumn, and I've got a new pig. Here's how she looked on Dominion Day Weekend, July 1st 2008:

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She grew well over the summer and early fall but lacked the spunky personality of the 2007 pig. I wonder if that effects flavor in any way. She was processed on the weekend and I brought home a very large quantity of pork. She came home in three large boxes:

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I've got two shoulders, half a belly, a ham, the hocks, most of the ribs and a zillion chops. No head, internal organs, trotters etc. Maybe next time.

I'm looking to try a bunch of cures -- wet and dry. No plans to start smoking, so to speak.

Has anyone tried this recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall?

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Has anyone tried this recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall?

I did not try this specific recipe but his cured meat recipes are known to be heavy on salt (very long cures). I think this is partly due to the fact that he does not use saltpeter or pink salt.

You might want to look at the bacon thread, I found a great deal of useful advices there.

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Has anyone tried this recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall?

I did not try this specific recipe but his cured meat recipes are known to be heavy on salt (very long cures). I think this is partly due to the fact that he does not use saltpeter or pink salt.

You might want to look at the bacon thread, I found a great deal of useful advices there.

Magictofu, thanks for the reminder of that great bacon thread (and for distracting me from our election results).

I liked this Hugh F-W recipe because it calls for only four days in a cool dry cure. That's some fast pancetta, which I think ought to be on the salty side.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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