The Day of Pigs II

The Day of Pigs II started in the pre-dawn (not that that’s particularly early just after the winter solstice) hours with me clearing the counter and sharpening knives.

Knife Sharpening
Cleaned, Sharpened, and Ready for Pig!

But then The Day of Pigs was nearly over before it got started. Josh, Paul, and I trundled down to Krider’s Meat Processing in Columbia City to pick up our half pig at 8 a.m. After a frantic search they finally found our order for the pig, forgotten under a stack of papers. Fortunately, while they didn’t have a spare pig half lying about, they did have all the primal cuts, a shoulder, loin, belly, and ham. I considered asking them stitch the pieces together for us, a la Frankenstein’s Monster, but I’m wise enough not tease harried butchers who have sharp knives and cleavers at their disposal.

Here’s our pig, reassembled.

Frankenstein's Swine

Josh and Paul leaped into action, Josh on the left is rubbing the dry cure (his Great-Grandma’s recipe) into the ham. Paul on the right is boning out the shoulder for sausage. I was sitting on the sidelines, taking pictures and offering helpful comments.

Josh and Paul Working Hard

Owen of course was filled with longing. If only his legs were longer…

Desperately Seeking Pork

Here’s the ham with the cure rubbed in. We then wrapped the ham in brown paper, put it in a linen sack, and hung it in the shed from a rafter, safe from varmints. Next August (yes, August 2011) we’ll take it down and it will make those producers of prosciutto di Parma gnash their teeth in rage and shame, it’ll be that good.

The Well-Rubbed Ham
Hung with Care

The shoulder still had the shank on it, and even better, it had a nice layer of fat and rind.

Removing the Shank
Smoked Shank
Starting the Cracklin's
Cracklin's Ready

I cut the shank off (that’s my Grandpa’s meat saw I’m using). We cured it in a wet cure for two days and then smoked it. The fat and skin we cut off and made into cracklin’s. If you’ve never had cracklin’s the pork rinds you can buy at your local convenience store are a horrible imitation of them. To make cracklin’s you put the chunks of pork fat and skin in a cast iron kettle and slowly render the fat away. The fat you save, that’s lard, delicious for all uses. The cracklin’s you eat, hot from the fire with salt. They’re incredibly rich, after a few you begin to feel sick from the overwhelming richness.

We only had a few, so we rendered them on the stove in a deep cast iron skillet. They were excellent.

We had about 16 pounds of sausage meat after boning the shoulder and saving the other scraps. We made 4 batches of about 4 pounds each. Chorizo, Italian, Breakfast, and Andouille. We bought a huge pile of sausage casings from Krider’s so we stuffed it all.

Ready to Stuff
Vacuum Sealed

The casings are slid on the stuffing tube in the first picture. Numerous incredibly hilarious jokes come to mind, but I’ll restrain myself. After a while Josh and I got pretty good at producing evenly stuffed sausage. We’d tie it off in links after stuffing and then we vacuum sealed it in one pound packages for freezing.

The andouille we smoked in the Big Stone Cooking Area.

Spenser Admiring Andouille

It came out looking really good and Spenser was ever hopeful of getting a taste. Debbie and I cooked up some today in a batch of jambalaya and it was just excellent. A smoky and spicy delight.

We have a great video of the sausage making but unfortunately my camera creates videos in .mov format. It needs a bit of editing, but I can’t edit .mov files on my Windows XP machine. I downloaded a handy-dandy freeware converter so I could edit it, except it didn’t work, although it did do a splendid job of changing my home page to Bing. I deleted that mess and I’m not going to waste anymore of my life on stupid technology made by stupid people. If you want to see the sausage video c’mon over and we’ll fry some sausage and eat it while we watch the video of it being made!

It was a great day. I’m already considering Day of Pigs III. I’m thinking it’s time to try making salami!

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