Sunday, 23 December 2012

The last porky tales - part 6: Dem bones

Sorry poochies, I'm not wasting these bones on you! Roasted in the oven until brown, then into the stock pot they went. I made about 6-7 litres of good quality stock to use in soups and casseroles, and then "canned" it in the pressure canner. It will be happy on the shelf for a year at least. Not that it will last that long.

I've already used some for lunchtime pork and noodle Asian style soups - delicious.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

The last porky tales - part 5: Liver for beginners

And that includes me, as I was a liver novice. However when confronted with 4kg of fresh liver you just have to dig in - or rather dig out your Hugh F-W Meat book or Pig in  Day DVD and get creative.

First I should point out that I got the liver and other offal on processing day (the day the piggies were "dispatched"), so the liver was super super fresh. One liver I vacuum-sealed and put in the freezer for later. The other I used to make pate and liver, bacon and onion.

Pate-in-pictures below, more or less following Hugh's recipe here. I used prosciutto rather than bacon as there was no decent streaky bacon to be had nearby.

And this is the liver, bacon and onion I made for Jerry. I can't say it will ever be my favourite dish, but it was quite tasty, and Jerry said it was the best liver "ever".
Thanks piggies!

Monday, 17 December 2012

The last porky tales - part 4: Use your head

Or in this case, their heads. Now don't go all "eeeewwwwwwwwww" on me. OK so it wasn't the nicest preparation job in the world, but if Hugh F-W can do it, so can I !

I soaked the heads (halved by the butcher) and assorted bits in a light brine solution for a few hours as per Hugh's method, then followed the recipe on his pig in a day DVD. I used the heads (minus most of the cheek meat which I saved for other things), tongues and the tails and a few assorted bones.  When the heads had cooled I then set about picking off all the meaty scraps, which was quite time consuming. Some meat I saved to use in Asian soups, and the rest went to make a few pits of brawn,

Because I didn't use the hocks or trotters  (saving them for baked beans) I did cheat a bit and add some leaf gelatin to the stock. Turned out pretty well I think,and it was rather tasty with some cucumber pickles on white bread.

There was a good few kilos of meat from the heads so well worth saving and using.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Now that's what I call a pork chop

Forequarter to be precise

Pickled radishes

As work plus uni plus a real need for soil improvement means that our garden will be limited this summer, we're getting our veg from a local organic CSA this season. This means that sometimes you get things you wouldn't normally grow or eat. Radishes are one of those things. After 2 weeks of radish bunches we had way more than we could use before they were beyond their 'use by' date. Fortunately I remembered reading a recipe for pickled radishes on David Leibowitz's excellent blog here Pickled Radishes | David Lebovitz.

And of course then I forgot about them in the back of the fridge. They were rediscovered today and we had our first taste....MAGIC! Crunchy and flavoursome, they will be brilliant on a cheese platter or plate of mixed nibbles. I highly recommend giving them a try next time radishes are in season where you live.


Friday, 14 December 2012

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The last porky tales - part 3: In praise of fat and a varied diet

If I had to pin down just one thing about the taste of home grown pork that was a revelation, it would be the fat.

I should probably point out that we haven't eaten commercial pork for a number of years now, preferring to buy from an excellent free range producer nearby (King Valley Free Range - hi E!), so we were already eating pork that has amazing flavour. So to be honest I wasn't expecting there to be much (if any) noticeable difference with our own pork as long as we got it right in the cooking. I was wrong.

I can taste the difference, particularly in the fat. Honestly the fat is so tasty it's almost better than the meat. I think this is because as a home producer we had the luxury of being able to provide a more varied diet for our 2 piggies, including trailerloads of apples and chestnuts from a neighbour, plus a regular supply of vegetable scraps from the local green grocer. Not only did this help keep our food bills down and our piggies happy, but I think the diet has had a difference to the flavour - in the same way you can taste the difference between grass fed and grain fed beef, or between a home grown and a commercial chicken. It was interesting that the butcher was shocked at the size of our pigs compared to their litter mates (who were processed 4 weeks before) - and I put that down to their diet too. Granted they were a bit spoilt and probably got a bit more food than was strictly necessary, but as you can see from the previous porky tales post there is a very nice layer of fat, but it isn't excessive - there is still plenty of meat.

A few weeks ago in Bendigo we went to the fabulous Dispensary Enoteca, and Jerry had a pork belly entree (free range, rare breed). We both agreed that the fat had no flavour compared to ours. It was really interesting as before growing our own we would have said it was pretty tasty.

So with Christmas coming, and my experience that the only decent pastry I ever make involves lard, I decided to render some from our piggies. I saved some of the fat for barding (the butcher had scored it), but the rest went in batches into a low oven in my cast iron pot to render. It took a few hours each time, but I was left with several jars of lard, and then some pork scratchings (crispy skin). I've never been bad keen on them so they mostly went to the dogs.

When I was rendering the back fat for lard I swear it smelt like roasting toffee apples - but better. The smell was more enticing than a full roast dinner! When cold it went a beautify snowy white, and it still smells great.

Since then I've used the lard to make lardy cake, as well as make some mighty fine crispy roast potatoes to go with roast dinners.

I can't say I was overwhelmed with the lardy cake, but glad I have tried it once. I'll be saving the rest of the lard for pastry and potatoes!

Coming soon: getting my head around brawn and pate, plus making bone broth.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

The last porky tales, part 2

The suspense is over folks - here's part 2 of the last porky tales.

So, where were we? Butchering day (as in the day the butcher comes to create all those lovely chops, roasts and so on). It was a fairly long one for our excellent butcher - probably about 6 hours to do both pigs. We had a chat about what I wanted, with the assistance of Hugh F-W's meat book for illustration!

My goal was to use as much of the pig as possible. I admit though that I didn't go so far as to use the caul or stomach or some of the more creative innards - mostly doe to the time available as I had to be in Sydney 5 days later for a uni course. Plus I'd bought myself a home vacuum sealing machine so I was pretty busy this day and the next just packing and labelling meat, as well as making various bits and bobs.

I did however use or keep the livers (more on pate later), kidneys, hearts, heads, tongues (more on that later). But much of the day was spent lugging in tubs of meat from the butcher's mobile workshop and packing them.

  So what was the end tally? From 2 heritage piggies 7 months old we ended up with:
  • 18kg of forequarter chops - most the size of dinner plates and more than enough to feed 2 per chop
  • 23kg of loin chops
  • 6.5kg of rack of pork
  • 7.5kg of hand of pork
  • 11kg of belly
  • 8kg of leg steaks
  • 10kg of boneless mini leg roasts
  • 6kg of hocks
  • 600g of fillet
  • 3kg of American ribs
  • 6.5kg of mince
  • 17.5kg in leg roasts
  • 6.5kg rolled shoulder roasts
  • 2.8kg pork cheeks
  • 4kg liver
  • 600g hearts
  • Forgot to weigh the kidneys but probably about 1kg
  • 1.2 kg of meat from the heads
  • Bones (lots)
  • Trotters (forgot to weigh them - treat for the dogs)
  • About 10kg of fat that was either saved for barding, frozen, or rendered for lard (more on that later)
So all up about 135kg of meat plus the fat.  We did a quick back-of-envelope calculation and worked out this cost us about $12 per kilo (including buying the piglets, feed, and paying the butcher). I think that's outstanding value for free range heritage pork.

So if you're at our place in the next year you know what will be on the menu!

The only waste from 2 pigs was 1 garbage bin of innards (went on a neighbours fire), and about 1/2 of a green garbage bag of hair/skin/fat bits that weren't worth salvaging. I'm pretty happy with that.

Stay tuned for more editions of the porky tales, coming soon(ish)

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