November 3, 2016 1:53 PM   Subscribe

I bought a pig. Right now it is happily running about in a pesticide-free field with its friends, eating organic food, rolling in the mud or swimming in the pond. (tw not vegetarian stuff below the fold)

Saturday, it will be transformed into food, and I'll be attending so I can instruct the butcher. I'm searching the web for advice, on good cuts, recipes, techniques etc. I've bought containers and bags at IKEA, and a freezer! (though friends will take about 1/3 to 1/2 of it). I already have two refrigerators, one of which is empty and will be disinfected before Saturday.
But I think I would like to read more personal experiences. I'm OK in a kitchen, and I often do vegetable and fruit preserves, pâtés and duck confit, but I've never taken on this type of project.
I mentioned the preserves because I am used to food safety etc, but I am a bit worried about the scale of this and the new techniques.
Most of all, I'm curious about sausage-making and curing. Has anyone tried to make cured and dried pork, as in prosciutto or bacon? I'm not fond of smoked meats, so that won't be on the list for me - one of my friends is going to try it with one of the legs.
I suppose there will be mountains of lard - how do I best render this, or is it better to freeze it and render it when needed?
Should I try to make black pudding? Is it difficult?
Any ideas for cuts I might not have thought about?
Oh, and how long will this last? Mostly, I expect we'll eat it over winter, not least at the big family Christmas. But wouldn't it be fun to have some of our own ribs when barbecue season starts? The answers on websites are all over the place, and because of my inexperience, I have no idea which ones to trust.
Thanks already!
posted by mumimor to Food & Drink (34 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
My one experience in processing a pig gives me two insights. The first is that you should plan on what to do with the internal organs, as there will be a lot of them and they won't stay fresh for long. The other is that if you plan to make blood sausage you should have an experienced hand helping you. Otherwise you may end up with a kitchen filled with blood as you try to stuff that casing.

I assume that you have a method of hoisting the pig once you have dispatched it, so that you can skin, bleed, and reduce it to components.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 2:17 PM on November 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think what you need is the butcher and others skilled in slaughter and meat preparation advising and instructing you, not the other way around. When I was a small child my grandparents had pigs, and had the butcher come and slaughter the pig and prepare the meat. We had a smokehouse, so some of it went that way and some went into home made kielbasi made by my Polish grandmother, but both my grandparents were old farm people and knew what they were doing since they grew up this way. I was never allowed nor wanted to watch as a very sensitive child, but I did see my grandma cut the heads off chickens. This may all be a bit more bloody, elemental and gruesome than a pig " transformed" into food.

If you live in a farming area, get advice from other real life people who have dealt with this before, and what to expect and what you can safely do with the various meat products. This is not something you learn from recipes on the internet.
posted by mermayd at 2:23 PM on November 3, 2016 [16 favorites]

Vaccuum sealers do a better job of keeping food fresh in the freezer for longer.
posted by RoadScholar at 2:42 PM on November 3, 2016 [7 favorites]

If I were in your situation I would consider making guanciale; this reminds that there's an old The Morning News piece by Josh Friedland about curing his own guanciale. Sounds like it was successful!
posted by xueexueg at 2:49 PM on November 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm not going to threadsit, but for clarity: this is happening with a professional butcher in charge, because anything else would be illegal here. Also, I grew up on this farm, I have helped my gran with this and I am not at all queasy - "transformed" was for sensitive MeFites, not me. Sorry for creating a misunderstanding here.
Also, I should have mentioned that by far the most of the pig will be cut into locally traditional cuts that my friends and family have ordered, and I can make some traditional family favorites like head cheese and other stuff. But this is a large animal. There is room for renewal/expansion of ideas, and I am certain this global community has ideas I can use.
Also, personal experience is different: blood sausage is definitely out now. My helpers will not be handling "a kitchen full of blood" - thanks for the insight.

On preview, yes, I should get myself a vacuum sealer!
posted by mumimor at 2:52 PM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Bacon is exceptionally easy and a great place to start for curing, especially since it doesn't need to be dried like pancetta, lonza, or other salumi. Smoking it is traditional, but optional. Two bellies make a whole lot of bacon. Larger whole cuts like dry-cured ham and prosciutto are a longer process.

You can make salt pork with shoulders and picnics, or you can grind it for sausage, either fresh or dried. If you have a place where you can dry cure stuff (cool, stable medium humidity, reasonably clean), your options open up a whole lot. I really like Polcyn and Ruhlman's Charcuterie, which is as much general info about the craft as specific recipes.
posted by supercres at 3:06 PM on November 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Ask your butcher to set aside fat so you can render your own lard. I have cut slabs of pork fat into cubes (2" x 2"? a little bigger?) and let them melt at a low temperature in an electric roasting pan. More directions here (How to Render Lard the Right Way (Snow White, Odorless)). Get a ladle and a canning funnel and some cheesecloth (or other mesh strainer) and some clean pint jars; ladle lard into pint jars, label, and freeze. (You could also do half-pint jars. I go through a pint jar of lard every 10 to 14 days and I use it in everything--pancakes, waffles, greasing baking pans, for the skiilet/Mexican food, Dutch babies, etc.) I've found that it holds for about a year in the freezer.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:11 PM on November 3, 2016 [6 favorites]

Also: does your butcher offer a cut sheet? Does the butcher offer scrapple-making?
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:14 PM on November 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

I presume you've already have a press for rullepølse? My abiding childhood memory is of my gran & my aunts making tonnes of rullepølse out of that half a pig they'd obtained. You could freshen up the flavours. Liver pate was another perennial favourite in my childhood and the pates can be frozen in giant containers for when you want some. Finally, my gran also made

I think I may be too "local" for fresh new ideas you hadn't thought of... but last thought is that I don't remember it as a messy process. There was just tonnes of food everywhere.
posted by kariebookish at 3:34 PM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

mmmm pork snacks. Maybe have the butcher keep the skin for making pork rinds? Crispy pig ears are also good!
posted by joan_holloway at 3:52 PM on November 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'll second supercres's recommendation for Charcuterie. I'd also recommend Mettler's Basic Butchering of Livestock & Game just to get a handle on the more technical aspects of butchering that might aid your discussions with your butcher.

do you have any trichinosis worries? If so, you have more time to do your research on sausage making etc while it freezes. But i'd get over to Butcher and Packer and get your meat cures like pink salt and any casings for sausage on the way.
posted by Dr. Twist at 3:56 PM on November 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

+1 on vacuum sealer and clear labeling. Also on Charcuterie.

I found that making sausage wasn't difficult, but it was time-consuming and labor-intensive. The key was keeping everything cold enough to work with. Do you have a sausage grinder? Because the KitchenAid attachment is really not quite strong enough for this job. You'll need casings and a stuffing tube as well. Home Sausage Making would be a helpful read. IIRC, cure requires safe storage, lest little kids get into it. Also think about whether you want to invest in the gear (rotating sausage mixer! electric grinder!), or to pay the butcher for professional making and packing.

FWIW, I usually get a lot of savory breakfast links, which are tremendously popular, some hot Italian sausage for sandwiches or spaghetti sauce, bacon, roasts for making carnitas, chops, and packs of 1-lb. ground sausage, because that's what my family eats. I think that's important to keep in mind--otherwise you end up with interesting-sounding meat that nobody really likes.

Label and date the heck out of everything. You think you'll remember. You will not remember.

You're going to look at that tub of fat and think "Oh, I'll just put it in the freezer and deal with it later." Nope. Because that means defrosting it, and cutting semi-defrosted slippery stuff because you're in a hurry, and it just won't end well. Do it fresh, freeze it in mason jars, take pride in the way they store neatly and are usable right away. You may also end up with cracklings--I did not love them, but my dog was happy. For ore on lard, you might want to get hold of a copy of Lard: The Lost Art of Cooking With Your Grandmother’s Secret Ingredient; I haven't read it, but it's on my list.

How quickly you'll go through it depends entirely on your eating habits. I do a pig every winter. MeMail me if you have more questions. Please post back and let us know what you ended up doing!
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:33 PM on November 3, 2016 [7 favorites]

I would be careful about keeping it until next summer. IME pork is good for 3-4 months in the freezer, anything after that is dicey.
posted by kate4914 at 4:53 PM on November 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

You sound like you have the actual butchering plenty in hand, and there are plenty of excellent suggestions upthread (vacuum sealer for the win), but I'd also like Jane Grigson's brilliant Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery as a suggested read. I think Charcuterie by Ruhlman is great, but sometimes a little too "chef-y" and technical. Grigson is very much a traditional British cook doing French dishes and I find most of them quite straightforward (and delicious). Downside, it doesn't have much in the way of pictures and diagrams, but trust me - the recipes for pates and terrines are AWESOME.
posted by ninazer0 at 5:55 PM on November 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

Nthing Ruhlman's Charcuterie for all your sausage and curing needs. The bacon is fantastic and easy. But do get a kitchen scale. The cheeks make this awesome bacon-on-steroids stuff called guanciale. It's pretty easy to cure and dry. But if you're really engaging in some of the more intense stuff in terms of dry-cure pork, I would build a curing chamber to control the humidity and temperature. The folks over at Perfect Cheese have a nice set of temperature and humidity controllers. Finding an old-but-working fridge on craigslist, and adding their 'total conditioning package' to it will get you in the right zone, and move dry curing away from 'fun kitchen experiment' to damn near foolproof.

A vacuum sealer will pay for itself for sure; you don't want this kind of stuff to get ruined by freezer burn.

I would also branch out to another pork-centric cookbook, mainly to use up your meaty pork bones (necks, hocks, etc); Momofuku. The broth is pretty amazing, pork heavy and we've found a number of ways to use it outside of a good bowl of ramen. If you like kimchi, the kimchi stew is focused around the broth, and is also super great.

Since you're already talking about making your own sausage, I would suggest at least a small batch of Toulouse Sausage, set aside some belly and make some duck confit. You've got the best ingredients to make a cassoulet. I make up a big batch every christmas day, and while its a fairly new tradition, it's a huge hit.
posted by furnace.heart at 6:25 PM on November 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

A writeup: "I butchered a pig" from mefi's own backseatpilot (and the FPP).
posted by exogenous at 6:43 PM on November 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I have done all of these things from a whole hog. Here is the write up I did about the actual butchering process.

I render lard in a slow cooker - cut the pieces of leaf fat into smallish pieces, add maybe half a cup of water, and simmer on low until done. You'll still have some solid bits at the end which you can snack on if you want something crispy and fatty. The rendered lard freezes well and will keep indefinitely. Keep the fatback separate for sausage making.

The grinder attachment for a stand mixer is fine for making ground pork and sausage filling, but i would not use it for sausage stuffing. Also, it needs to be chilled and the quantities of scraps you'll have will be too much for it to handle before it gets too warm, so you'll probably want to do it in batches and rechill the grinder between them.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:46 PM on November 3, 2016 [8 favorites]

Oh, hey!

We're doing it again in about a month, maybe I'll take video this time.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:51 PM on November 3, 2016 [5 favorites]

For curing, I use equilibrium curing. It makes it easier for me to control the level of salt in the meat. Also, that blog in general is good.

I've dry cured a goat leg prosciutto style and that worked great. Both of my attempts at dry curing pig legs failed, and that's an expensive failure. If I were to try a prosciutto again, I'd probably buy a cheap wine fridge and cure it in there.
posted by stet at 6:53 PM on November 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

We made bacon a couple years ago and it was kind of time consuming but good. Sausage is very easy just rent a meat grinder that is powerful enough the first time around- don't go cheap! This will use a big chunk of your fat.

Lately all the meat around here, including game, has been testing positive for toxoplasmosis. It's pretty bad. So I'd either not make anything that's just cured or I'd make damn sure I froze it at least to -20 for at least two weeks. In practice this means a real deep freeze with an actual temperature gage for a month for me to feel safe enough to use it. This also applies to any meat you plan to cook less than well done. Several pregnant women and their babies have had significant problems this year to the point that they have been doing PSAs to hunters and people who home butcher. There are so many feral cats in N America it's basically everywhere at this point. So that's really limiting people's options for non-cooked meat if there is any chance a pregnant family member of friend or friend of friend might eat it.
posted by fshgrl at 7:59 PM on November 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

Nthing Charcuterie by Polcyn and Ruhlman, and I'll also say that Marianski is worth checking out. Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages is like a meat science textbook, and has some pretty solid basic sausage recipes, as well as a guide for making up your own sausages.

Equipment-wise, if you think charcuterie is something you'd like to explore, it's important to get a decent meat grinder (not manual, something electric, and check reviews to make sure the gears aren't made of plastic), and a decent piston stuffer (LEM makes pretty decent ones) for making sausage. It's a lot of fun, but I ended up feeding 3 of the first 5 batches of sausage I made to the neighbors' dogs because I didn't fully understand how important nearly freezing cold temperatures are to properly making sausage.

Feel free to memail me if you have any specific questions, I've been making sausage and assorted meat things (bacon, ham, pates) both at home and sort of professionally for a couple of years. And I see you've already said no to blood sausage, but my advice about that would be having a really, really keen idea of how to make sausage, and a couple years of experience would be the minimum requirement for giving that a go. Butcher Packer is a fantastic resource for pretty much everything you need.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:10 PM on November 3, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'd strongly recommend watching the Scott Rhea Project on pig butchery first. Lots of great ideas there on cuts and what to watch out for in the process.

Allow me to defend blood sausage/pudding. We make a new batch every few months or so. It's a quiet morning's work and not a whole lot worse or different from making, say, meatloaf. At no time have we drowned the kitchen in blood. This only uses a fraction of the blood from a single pig, but blood does freeze very well if you want to do this in batches.

Now, we do blood pud the Scottish style (actually Newfoundland/Nova Scotian) which is deliberately coarser in texture. You can stuff it in casings if you want, but we simply cook it in a pan then cut it into squares and package enough for the two of us for breakfast.

What follows is my wife's recipe, refined now for the past five years or so to be as close as possible to the now lost version her grandmother used to make:

2 tubs (500 mL each) of pre-salted pork blood (We've used fresh blood too, just need to add a tablespoon full of salt or so)
3 large onions, finely diced (brunoise)
3/4 c milk (ideally 5%---we can buy this as "coffee milk". Blending cream and milk works too)
2 1/2 teaspoons of peppercorns, ground
2 t salt
1 allspice berry (not traditional, but we really like it)
16 oz pork belly/lard
4 oz pinhead oats, roasted.

You can also add 2 oz of a good strong whisky for additional flavour.

Finely dice the pork fat. Separately, finely dice any pork meat (if any). Heat cast iron frying pan and melt the fat. Fry onions on a low heat until translucent. Do not brown. Add diced pork meat, spice mixture and toasted oats. Continue to fry and stir until well mixed. Pour in whisky and toss. Pack into a 9x12 inch pan lined with parchment paper. Mix blood with milk. Pour over solids in pan, stirring to mix well.

At this point you could pack into casings and boil to cook. See the Scott Rhea Project video where he does this.

Here's our simpler method: bake in a 350 F oven for 1 hr or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove and allow to cool to ambient. Slice into 3/4" slices approximately 2-3 inches long (or whatever you feel a single portion is). Spread slices on a baking tray and freeze for 12-24 hrs. When frozen solid, remove and vacuum pack in meal portions. Freezing first prevent the vac sealer from smushing the product.

With either method, to serve: pan fry thin slices in butter (or some other fat) until crispy on both sides. Serve hot.

While pudding in casing is what you find commercially--blood sausage--the baked pudding in squares is indeed the authentic version from my wife's farm family. It works equally well with pig or beef blood, but does taste a bit different, stronger, made with beef blood.
posted by bonehead at 9:39 PM on November 3, 2016 [5 favorites]

I've got my own reservations about blood sausage and similar. I've never seen a method of capturing the blood that I consider safe. And this includes the two USDA-inspected processing facilities I've watched work. And the many Custom Exempt slaughter services.

Usually what I see is that you shoot/stun the pig and then stick the pig through the jugular and stick a cambro underneath the arterial spurts. The skin of an animal is not sanitary, pigs especially. I'm not sure how inspected facilities that harvest for blood sausage do it, but nothing I've seen on the small-scale side of things inspires a lot of confidence. And I'd be pleasantly shocked if your slaughter service can do it in a sanitary way.

That said, one of the finest things I've ever eaten was a blood sausage made from blood collected an hour before from a still twitching pig laying in the dirt as it bled out. My risk tolerance is pretty fucking high, but you should consider your own.

Also, FWIW, a vet with the extension presenting at an Organic farming conference I attended told me that trichinosis has been eliminated in the confinement herd in the US but not in the pastured herd because, well, they get it from eating logs.
posted by stet at 10:41 PM on November 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

Absolutely see the Scott Rea Project for ideas.
posted by plinth at 5:34 AM on November 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Not sure if ponhoss/scapple has been mentioned?

Also, totally agree with suggestions to get your hands on a good grinder, if you want to make sausage. We tried once with a Kitchenaid standing mixer attachment--never again. Then we borrowed something more heavy-duty and it was a breeze.
posted by bluebird at 6:51 AM on November 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Alright, I'm back in front of a computer so I can add to my previous answer.

It sounds like you have most of the cuts figured out. If you're interested in doing a large roast for Christmas, I would leave one of the hams whole and freeze it when you get it home. Start defrosting it maybe two weeks before the holiday, which should give you enough time to brine it for about a week before cooking it.

I have made bacon and pancetta before, and they're both very easy as others have mentioned. You're probably going to want to get some pink salt, which contains sodium nitrite. The pink salt is there as a curing agent and helps retain the color of the meat; most commercial bacon has stopped using nitrates/nitrites in their processing, so your home bacon is going to taste a little different (read - more delicious). It's really as simple as putting pieces of belly in a large Ziploc bag and stashing it in the fridge for a week. At the end of the cure, you have either "green bacon" which can then be smoked or baked, or you can hang it and dry it a bit to make pancetta.

On drying meats - I only do this in the winter. You need a cool, humid environment to dry meats properly and our basement stays a pleasant 50 degrees and 80% or so humidity all winter long, so I wait until it gets cold outside and then hang meat in the open air from the ceiling. People who get serious about this will usually convert old refrigerators to act as curing chambers. If you want to dry stuff you absolutely must put a curing agent on the meat to prevent infection. Pink salt is fine for something like pancetta which only dries for a week or so, but dried sausages or anything that's going to take a longer time will require other methods. Tread carefully here.

I seem to have lost our log for the last pig, but going off memory we ended up with more or less the following amounts of stuff -

-One head, split, with tongue (made around 4 quarts of head cheese)
-Four trotters (went in to the head cheese)
-Two kidneys
-One heart (organs were turned in to dog treats)
-Two leaf lard sections, a couple pounds' worth
-Somewhere around 15 lbs. of shoulder meat, one cut in to roasts and the other smoked and pulled
-A dozen or so thick pork chops
-Twenty pounds of belly, all turned in to bacon
-Two racks of spare ribs, maybe 1.5 lbs each
-Two tenderloins, about 1.5 lbs each
-One whole ham, brined and smoked (I don't think we weighed it, maybe 15 lbs?)
-4-5 ham roasts from the other leg, between 1 and 3 lbs each
-2 hocks, about 1.5 lbs each
-About 10-15 lbs fat scraps, rendered in to lard
-20-30 lbs meat scraps, ground, about half turned in to sausage
-A large quantity of bones, turned in to stock

Everything we didn't eat immediately was vacuum sealed and stashed in chest freezers.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:41 AM on November 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

Vacuum sealers, we've all assumed you have one, but haven't talked about what ones work well.

We've gone through a couple. I would not suggest the very common foodsaver brand units. They're easy to set-up and convenient (at least at first), but they tend to overheat and poop-out in the middle of jobs and they're almost impossible to repair. In our experience, at least.

We've currently got a Weston Pro which we're quite happy with. Note that a little bit of searching around will get a much better price on that unit than buying direct. And that unit seems to go under a bunch of different names in different places. There are certainly bigger and fancier units than that one, but we've found in the past year that it's rock-solid for an afternoon of even multi-batch sausage making. It's easy to clean and store, does one job but does it well.

Buy bags on-line too. We've found local hardware stores sell for almost double what on-line (ebay, Amazon) dealers want.
posted by bonehead at 8:53 AM on November 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: This is beautiful - thank you all friends! And keep it coming, if you have ideas.
I have had backseatpilot's post open in a tab for a month or so, it was my inspiration for asking for more ideas. So great. I should have quoted it in my ask.
Now I have come back from the butcher's, unpacked everything and divided it into freezer stuff, cook now stuff and selling/giving away stuff. It was a big experience and I'm definitely doing it again. The butchers were very friendly, and we discussed along the way what to do. For instance, I told them I have really enjoyed porchetta in Italy, and they made me the cut for that - so that is what we are having for our Christmas roast this year (+ a duck and a goose) Now I'm really exhausted, and my feet and legs hurt from standing so long on the cement floor and my kitchen's brick floor - next time I'll wear work-clogs or something. So I'm taking a break with my feet up now.
The butcher is a new, small business, they only do it during their time off from the big industrial plant in the same small town, and they only have two providers, one of which is my neighbor. The pig had already been killed and halved when I arrived, if I had wanted to make blood pudding, I should have called in advance. It was 103 kilos! A huge animal, with lovely dark meat, and less fat than the pork I usually get, but enough fat for our needs.
My main job was to pack. I didn't manage to get a vacuum packer in time (this is far out in the country), and they would probably not have allowed me to use it. Both because of lack of space, but also because this is in their spare time, they only give each customer an hour, and I had lots of separate small orders for chops from family and friends. What thoughts do you have on re-packing? The butchers were strongly against it, and though it is not against the law, my intuition tells me that every time in and out of a bag is a risk. They did say that if they are eventually succesfull enough to go full time, they will offer more services, so maybe next year, I won't need my own vacuum packer.
The butchers did the grinding, and looking at how much ground meat I have now, I've decided that I will do sausages in small batches, later, and I will wait with curing and drying till next year. This is also because I won't be able to get the books you have recommended in time for this year. A friend has ordered one of the hams and will try curing and drying it, so I'll still get to see it done. I don't know if I can add more best posts in a year, or if you will notice.
If anyone reads this thread for advice, apart from me and me in a year, my advice is I did prep wrong. I did buy enough bags, and they are a fine size for most stuff (IKEA big zip-lock bags, two packs) - I needed five heavy-duty larger bags, but I hadn't managed to find any, and the butchers gave me them. I just wrote on the bags with a marker. That was all fine. But I'd brought two large containers and several smaller to bring the stuff home in, and I should have brought maybe four large ones and just two smaller ones for the organs and the leaf lard. In Denmark we make leverpostej and rather than freezing the ingredients and thawing them and then making the mix, I'm making the raw pâtés and freezing them now so I can just pop them in the oven. I'm also making lard, MonkeyToes. And there will be rullepølse, kariebookish, but not today
Also I'd totally underestimated how clean and clear my kitchen and the refrigerators needed to be. This is partly because I'm sharing with friends and family, so almost half the food can't be frozen. Also, the weather is a bit warmer than projected - I'd planned for just letting one of the large containers sit outside on a table in the yard, and it is not cold enough for that. But there is not room for anything else in those refrigerators, and the whole ham for my friend broke the shelf it was put on. And though my kitchen is generally clean and clutter-free, all that meat took up a lot of space on the counters while I was arranging it. No room for the computer there, or for my tea cup from this morning, or the bread box. If you are American, I don't think that will be as much of a problem, you have bigger appliances.
And I forgot my list! A pig is a large animal, and you definitely need to prepare a list of cuts. In the end I only forgot one thing, to ask them to cut out the jowls. Maybe I could do it myself, but again, I am really tired. The reason its a problem is that a really dear friend would like half the head for head cheese, and we had agreed I'd take out the jowl and he could have the rest. Whatever, it's not like I need more pork…
posted by mumimor at 8:18 AM on November 5, 2016 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh, I forgot something: I have never handled meat so sweet smelling. I suddenly realize how the meat we usually get must be days old, and while hanging is a good thing for some products, it certainly isn't for all.
posted by mumimor at 9:24 AM on November 5, 2016

Best answer: Coming in very late (from the best-of side-bar).

I would dissent from the kitchen-aid sausage/grinder hate :) We process our own deer, and grinding burger in the kitchen-aid is easy. Yes, chilled/slightly frozen is the way to do it, but it isn't that time consuming (use a cookie sheet to lay the meat strips out, put it in the freezer for 10 minutes, and then grind it). You can cut the strips larger than like stew meat, and it grinds at about 2 minutes/lb of meat.

Similarly, sausage making with the kitchen-aid isn't that difficult. (We cut our venison with pork fat, so it's a bit different than your all-pork setup). You do want it nearly frozen, but we stuffed 5 lbs of sausage in about 25 minutes (though loading the tube with the casings was probably 5 of those minutes).

Sure the big grinders or sausage stuffers are easier/faster/better, but the cost vs time vs use tradeoff just doesn't work out in their favor (for us).
posted by k5.user at 7:11 AM on November 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Whatever, it's not like I need more pork…

The jowls in Quebec are called the Angles Cheeks, and are widely considered one of the best parts of the pig, a butcher's portion like the oysters on a bird.

Can confirm: when smoked and maple-glazed, they put any bacon to shame.
posted by bonehead at 8:11 AM on November 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

When you get a chance, read some Calvin Trillin on the subject of country ham. He is a wonder writer who loves good food. I have had really great ham on a couple of occasions; I'm a bit envious of the opportunity to cure some.
posted by theora55 at 7:43 AM on November 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

*wonderful* Trillin is a wonderful writer, probably also a better typist.
posted by theora55 at 3:09 PM on November 22, 2016

Scott Rhea is a national treasure. We butchered a half pig our neighbor raised by ourselves last year with his videos as our guide. We'd done game before, but it was nice to have his commentary and advice on deciding what cuts to select. And damn if those aren't the best chops I've ever had. The fat is unbelievable.
posted by ikahime at 9:55 AM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

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