Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dealing with a PIG!

Well you may ask, who am I calling a "pig".....and no, the honeymoon isn't over. The pig in question is a lovely little porker (well half of a lovely little porker) that we picked up from butcher Mark Cardin this morning. Raised by Betsey and Pete on a farm near here, this half a little piggie is destined to become several prize dishes that I will write about in the next couple of blogs.

First off, we asked Mark to do as little butchering as possible....pork belly whole and unsmoked, ham left intact with a very long leg bone, our half of the head, organ meat, fat, several roasts, the ribs, boned loin, a big bag of stew chunks, hocks and feet...quite a nice haul. The roasts, ribs, and hocks went into the freezer for fresh cooking later.

Our plan consists of bacon from the pork belly, a wet cured ham from (which is really the leg), liverwurst from the liver and some pork shoulder, Canadian bacon from one of the boneless loins, sausages from the miscellaneous chunks and some of the fat (maybe with a little venison thrown in for good measure) and headcheese (fromage a tete or suezle if you prefer the more romantic languages) from the head and one of the trotters.

Getting things prepared doesn't take long. We have brining containers, crocks, stock pots, etc. from other things we do so that is a big CHECK. We make sure to sterilize things meticulously as we have battled with bacteria in the past and, just let me say, it isn't winnable. So everything cleaned,....CHECK.

Now for the first of the dishes. BACON. So yea, who doesn't like bacon. I have blogged on our bacon-making before and we haven't bought bacon since our first attempt. It just isn't the same. 

Our smoker just finished three pieces of store-bought belly on Friday so today our farm-raised piggy belly got its harsh rubbing with salt, pink salt, and then, when lodged into a ziploc bag, a good dousing with maple syrup. 11 1/2 lbs of pork belly now cures in the downstairs fridge for two weeks. We flip every few days to make sure the cure gets to all sides of the meat (the rind is still on so that side is harder to penetrate).

Then we will cold smoke for 8-10 hours. Slicing it is the only hard labour left, and as you can see, we have that figured out.  This pic is of the bacon that just came from the smoker yesterday. After chilling for 24 hours in the fridge it is firm enough to slice...and of course to fry!

All this effort really is worth it....for what turns into an hour's worth of labour and two weeks of tending, we have enough bacon to last til mid summer or early fall. Not bad at all in my books.

Next blog -- Rendering Lard, Or "How to make good fat in your oven"