Help me use the whole pig
October 25, 2011 5:16 PM   Subscribe

My friends just called to offer me any of the non-conventional parts of the two pigs they are slaughtering tonight. What should I take?

I just received the call now and the pigs are to be dealt with tonight. I have to grab anything that I'd like before it goes in the trash (which would be a tragedy). Obviously, I'll grab the trotters, liver, and heart, and any extra fat, but I'm not sure what else to take. I believe that the entire head is up for grabs, as well as any organs I'd care for.

I'm not experienced in butchery, but am willing to try. I love a good kitchen project, so involved work is fine. I'm willing to eat (or at least cook and try) pretty much anything.

Can I just stick the whole head on the rotisserie (with an apple in the mouth presumably)? Can I use the intestines for sausage? Can I eat the tail?
posted by ssg to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm just going to pop into this thread with a recommendation for pig ears! Mmm...delicious, one of my favourite things to eat. Check out this post.
posted by so much modern time at 5:22 PM on October 25, 2011

From my memories of one of the Little House on the Prairie books (maybe the Big Woods one), yes, you can eat the tail!
posted by rtha at 5:22 PM on October 25, 2011 [6 favorites]

Lights. The best recipes for them are probably Asian, but there are some European recipes as well.
posted by Jehan at 5:26 PM on October 25, 2011

Also chitterlings, which are supposedly a delicacy rounds my end.

Tripe might be worthwhile as well, depending.
posted by Jehan at 5:30 PM on October 25, 2011

Guanciale from the cheeks, Lardo from the back fat.

You could also have them split the face (since presumably they have a nice bonesaw while you do not), brine it, and roast it in the oven. At the restaurant where I work they pick the meat and make ravioli filling out of it. There are also headcheese recipes in Michael Ruhlman's Charcuterie, which is one of the definitive books on the subject.

I've seen the pig tails served breaded and fried.
posted by clockwork at 5:32 PM on October 25, 2011

The cheeks sound like a good bet on their own if you're not up for a whole head cheese thing. You could also try to make your own Guanciale with them.

Also, maybe some form of black pudding?
posted by argonauta at 5:32 PM on October 25, 2011

You can sort of boil up the head in a big pot and scrape out all the meat off of the face and cheeks brawn out of it. Apparently it's also known as Head Cheese, I have no idea why that name makes me giggle.
posted by wwax at 5:35 PM on October 25, 2011

Do you feed outdoor birds, and are you in a (reasonably) cool climate? If so, you could grab some suet for the birds -- skin + outer fat layer. Cut into suet-cake-sized pieces and store in the freezer. You can put it in a regular suet cage or just nail it somewhere. It's best to only put it out in the winter -- in warmer weather it gets a bit nasty.
posted by pie ninja at 5:36 PM on October 25, 2011

Oh word, grab the skin and fat, and make the guiltiest pleasure ever: pork scratchings. It would be a sin to let the opportunity for homemade scratchings to pass.
posted by Jehan at 5:40 PM on October 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

From my memories of one of the Little House on the Prairie books (maybe the Big Woods one)...

you can make a great balloon out of the bladder.
posted by alms at 5:45 PM on October 25, 2011 [7 favorites]

I've had deep-fried pig tail, and it wasn't horrible. That same restaurant, The Gorbals, taunts me with the continued offer of half a pig's head, roasted. I have yet to see it served, but I imagine it's as it says on the menu, cleaved right in two, roasted whole, and served on a platter.
posted by carsonb at 5:56 PM on October 25, 2011

My grandparents couldn't afford much but they raised a few pigs. I didn't know what chitlins were back then other than tasty. (Mmm and fried skin) They ate everything but the squeal. So there is a recipe for any and every part if you're game.
posted by mightshould at 5:57 PM on October 25, 2011

Get the head and make Porchetta di Testa. Warning: link contains step-by-step photos of the process, for those who do not want to see a pig's head all sliced open.
posted by bedhead at 6:56 PM on October 25, 2011

Nthing lights(lungs).I had it in the UK and it tastes like the rest of the the animal.
posted by brujita at 7:50 PM on October 25, 2011

Here in New Orleans you can buy pig tails at local butcher shops--I believe they're generally slow-cooked with red beans. I haven't tried them yet, though...
posted by Nibbly Fang at 9:28 PM on October 25, 2011

Thanks to all who answered. It ended up being done quite quickly (it is cold here). I got heads, trotters, livers, hearts, and half the kidneys and lungs. Skin, tails, and ears weren't options and I didn't really want to get any tripe (maybe next year). Now I have to clean things up, cool then down, and freeze a bunch.
posted by ssg at 10:06 PM on October 25, 2011

Yes, brawn - a neighbour of mine used to make her own brawn - lovely!
And for future reference I'm sure if you know of anyone who raw feeds their dog/s they would be very grateful for anything you don't want.
And eat (some of) the liver fresh (cooked obviously) - I always think it's far nicer than frozen liver. Others say there's no difference.
posted by sianifach at 11:47 PM on October 25, 2011

When you deal with the heads, be sure to eat the tongues. They're tasty!
posted by onhazier at 8:21 AM on October 26, 2011

It may be too late, but you have a great opportunity to get some Leaf Lard. This is made from the fat around the pig's kidneys, and is said to be the best fat in the world for making pastries.
posted by alms at 9:18 AM on October 26, 2011

For future reference: Feijoada, a dish for exactly this occasion. Basically a bean stew with "non-conventional" pig parts: ears, tail, feet. It's the national dish of Brazil.
posted by Tom-B at 9:41 AM on October 26, 2011

If the opportunity comes again, get some pork neck. It's called ton-toro in Japan, and it's like pork belly in miniature, with ribbons of fat that turn a delicious crunchy kind of chewy-crisp. Goddamn, is good.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:24 AM on October 27, 2011

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