Even though the first hog for our hog roast didn’t turn out as planned, Jeremie was ready for another go at it. All his brothers were here, so it was a much easier task of lifting the carcass into the scalder. All the cousins were interested to see how it was done. Our young nephew, Matthew , even tried to stick the pig himeslf. It was a little to hard, though. And our neice, Autumn, took part in the eviscerating commenting, “if I’m going ot eat it, I’d better help out with this part, too!” It was a great learning experience for the city folk, lol! And sweet success! It tasted wonderful. Jeremie did have to trouble shoot a few things because the carcass was much too large for our smoke pit. It almost caught fire again, but Jeremie’s quick thinking took care of the problem. He will have to adapt our pit for next time. All the aunts helped to shred the pork. Perhaps they thought Jeremie needed some new tools because a few days later a package arrived in the mail. It was addressed to “Pigslayer Schultz” and inside were some BBQing gloves and claws for shredding the meat. Thank you to the anonymous sender! Jeremie can’t wait to try them out!
Ugh! Sometimes you work, and work, and work and things still don’t go right. We are hosting a large family gathering here and Jeremie wanted to smoke a hog for them all to enjoy. Poor guy had been working hard all day in the hot sun on projects that needed to be done around the farm. It was close to midnight when he got around to slaughtering the hog. Then is needed to be scraped and gutted and smoked. Something happened during the night becuase he woke me up at 4am to say, “there isn’t any hog.” What a disaster! Grease from the hog had dripped onto the fire, causing the carcass to burn instead of smoke. This is result. Charred. What a waste.
Trotters, Hocks, Hams and Shoulders. I was greatly remiss snapping pictures of this process. But I pretty much just followed Brandon’s instructions. Cut off the feet. Trotters. I didn’t save them. Cut off the hocks. I saved them for ham and beans. The shoulder is cut into Boston Butts and Picnic roasts. The leg is done similarly. Cut off the feet. Trotters. Cut off the hock. The large ham portion of the leg can be cut into a boneless ham and a bone in ham. These can be cured in a salt water brine or dry cured in salt. This meat will be tough and chewy, so make sure to cook it long and low. I’m sorry for my lack of pictures. I’ve got some more carcasses to piece out, so perhaps I’ll update with more pictures later. Any questions? I’d love to hear them. For local peeps, I’m happy to walk you through the process in person if interested.
Now this is the fun part! I cannot recommend watching the Farmstead Meatsmith enough if you are serious about wanting to learn how to transform these animals you raise into a delicious meal for your family. Instead of hacking away at the carcass, learn to gracefully slice and pull. Use your fingers, instead of a chop saw. Never, ever cut meat with a saw. Only use a saw to cut the bone. I broke down this hog with a meat saw, a cleaver (which, honestly, I didn’t use that much) and a 6 inch flexible knife. Jeremie had halved the carcass before chilling, so I tackled this project one half at a time. This was late at night, after the kids were in bed, and it took 3 hours. I hope to get much much faster at this. It was the chops that took me so long. My saw is too big and unwieldy for such a job. I’d like to get a much smaller one for next time. So, first I took out the leaf lard. This is the white stuff right on the belly of the pig. it tears away using just fingers. Then I took out the tenderloin. This runs up along the back end of the spine. Start working your fingers around it from the head side towards the back end. It will come out using just fingers, as well. Now it’s time to cut apart the leg portion. This is what you could cure into ham slices, or preserve as a country ham, or spiral baked ham. The backbone comes down from the tail and makes a sharp angle, going down the back, towards the head. Make your cut right after the angled vertebrae. Then it’s time to separate the shoulder piece. This will be your Boston Butt and the Picnic roast. On the belly side of the carcass, you will feel the sternum. Make your cut right next to that bone and cut straight up to the backbone. You will need to use a saw to get through the backbone. Next, I separated the chops from the bacon. Looking at the middle piece of the carcass, decide how big you want your chops to be. I wanted as much bacon as possible, so I cut the chops just after the loin. See that circle shape that is a lighter color? That is the loin. You will have to cut this meat side down, so you’re cutting through the skin. You will feel the rib bones. Cut in between each rib and then go back with the saw and cut through the bone. Thinly and carefully slice the ribs away from the pork belly. This pork belly will be cured with sugar and salt for bacon. It’s gorgeous. The ribs that you cut away from the belly are the “spare ribs”.Now, see the top quarter of the hog? That is going to be chops, loin roast, and back fat for rendering lard and cracklin’s. The back fat peels away from the loin with quite of bit of effort with your fingers. If the skin is still on, cube that back fat and cook it up in a big cast iron kettle outside for delicious cracklin’s. Not to my liking, but everyone else here loves ’em. Regarding the chops, the only thing to remember is to keep each cut parallel to the last one. The chops will cook unevenly if one side is much thicker than the other. All the chops don’t need to be the same size, but they all need to be uniform. Make sense? Let the size of the animal determine the size of the chops.
After the chops are cut, you’ll be left with the rest of the loin. Trim off any excess fat and then it will be a beautiful boneless loin roast. I’ll discuss piecing out the shoulder and hams in another post.