Leaf fat is particularly well suited for baking – pie crusts especially
January 17, 2016 10:58 AM   Subscribe

'I Butchered a Pig' - The process of butchering an entire pig while trying not to waste anything, documented by Mefi's own backseatpilot. [via mefi projects]
posted by The Whelk (82 comments total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
 
Pork & Beanplating.
posted by deadaluspark at 11:02 AM on January 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


"Lleaf" - Is that a typo or Welsh?
posted by howfar at 11:02 AM on January 17, 2016


I call the face meat
posted by item at 11:04 AM on January 17, 2016


Looks like a typo, just says "leaf fat" in the article.
posted by deadaluspark at 11:04 AM on January 17, 2016


It's pronounced "yeaf."
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:06 AM on January 17, 2016 [6 favorites]


[Fixed the typo, carry on.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 11:08 AM on January 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


I just made a batch of buttermilk biscuits yesterday with leaf lard, and I can testify that is an equally noble use for it as pie crusts. And, though it does feel vaguely sacrilegious to use leaf lard for non-baking purposes, I also really like starting stews with it.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 11:13 AM on January 17, 2016


backseatpilot, I take my hat off to you. Excellent work and beautifully documented. That must have been exhausting (not to mention the work ahead of making lard, rearranging freezers, smoking, curing, sausage making...). Do you know what breed of pig?
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:20 AM on January 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


Will no one think of the pigs!?
posted by chavenet at 11:20 AM on January 17, 2016


I think of the pigs. I think they're delicious.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:21 AM on January 17, 2016 [25 favorites]


When my grandfather would butcher a hog, he always bragged that he used everything but the squeal.
posted by HillbillyInBC at 11:23 AM on January 17, 2016 [6 favorites]


When my grandfather would butcher a hog, he always bragged that he used everything but the squeal.

So then bragging is a traditional part of pig butchering. I understand the reason for the article better now.
posted by humboldt32 at 11:26 AM on January 17, 2016 [7 favorites]


The reason for documenting the process was to educate. Using as much of an animal as you can reduces waste, and produces a variety of food that can be put up and stored in various ways for a lengthy period. This is an efficient and sensible use of the carcass.
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:32 AM on January 17, 2016 [29 favorites]


Are you saying being efficient and sensible and doing a huge, labor-heavy task that most people wouldn't bother with doesn't gain you bragging rights?
posted by deadaluspark at 11:45 AM on January 17, 2016 [16 favorites]


The pig, if I am not mistaken;
Supplies us sausage, ham, and bacon.
Let others say his heart is big—
I call it stupid of the pig.

- Ogden Nash
posted by Reverend John at 11:51 AM on January 17, 2016 [8 favorites]


I will confirm that leaf lard makes the best pie crust. Butter gets you a nice crispy finish, but lard gets you a real flaky crust that holds up to even very wet fillings. Shortening crusts are no damn good at all.


Also, I think it's pronounced "fleaf".
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:51 AM on January 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


Really interesting, and I say that as a very longtime vegetarian. I can't say I object to this all that much...it's hard work, you're not hiding from how gruesome it is, and there's very little waste.

That reminds me, I really need pig and cow hearts in Brooklyn. Anyone?
posted by nevercalm at 11:55 AM on January 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


So was there a butcher on hand to guide people in selecting and making cuts, or is it pretty obvious when it's facing you like that?
posted by kenko at 12:04 PM on January 17, 2016


Or judging from backseatpilot's mouthwatering instagram, he may have been the knowledgeable person on hand.
posted by kenko at 12:12 PM on January 17, 2016


Oh man, that head cheese made my mouth water.
posted by Bee'sWing at 12:18 PM on January 17, 2016


Yeah, I've never had head cheese, and now I'm like, hmm.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:20 PM on January 17, 2016


That is a lot of work. I find carving a chicken up more than enough effort.
posted by GuyZero at 12:22 PM on January 17, 2016


yeah, right, Lisa... a wonderful, magical animal!
posted by Greg Nog at 12:23 PM on January 17, 2016 [12 favorites]


Also, backseatpilot, if you don't mind me asking, how much was the full pig?
posted by Greg Nog at 12:24 PM on January 17, 2016


Yeah, I've never had head cheese, and now I'm like, hmm.

I've had it from a bunch of places. You'll become an addict. It's best with horseradish.
posted by jonmc at 12:25 PM on January 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Cold cuts are the apogee of human civilization.
posted by Bee'sWing at 12:28 PM on January 17, 2016


Damn it. I wasn't hungry. Until now.
posted by Samizdata at 12:31 PM on January 17, 2016


Great post. Yeah, I'm curious, how did you get the training or train yourselves to do the primal cuts and find uses for all the bits? Was there a research process before and after this day, or someone there to guide you?
posted by Miko at 12:31 PM on January 17, 2016


That reminds me, I need to plan a smoked-pig meetup soon. I wonder if I should make it regional...
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:47 PM on January 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also, "I found myself standing in a stranger’s driveway waiting for a truck full of dead pigs to arrive" sounds like the start of a Bulwer-Lytton contest entry - and I mean that in the best possible sense.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:50 PM on January 17, 2016 [6 favorites]


This may be the push I need to get me to sign up for some of my butcher's classes...
posted by skybluepink at 12:52 PM on January 17, 2016


Wow, I was not expecting this kind of response. Thanks!

The pigs were apparently mutts - 1/2 Hereford, 1/4 Berkshire, 1/8 red wattle, and 1/8 Tamworth. The farmer was on hand to guide us during the butchering process; from what I was told, he actually started this whole thing by apprenticing with a butcher, and then decided to go straight to the source and raise his own animals. Apparently he's going to have cows available sometime later this year, so there may be a follow-on write up for that if we buy one of those. None of us had any prior experience, and I went in to the whole process cold (literally and figuratively, it was hovering in the mid-30s all day).

The live pigs were just north of 350 pounds, and we paid $1200 for a whole one, split four ways. The "hanging weight" - slaughtered, bled, and innards removed - was around 225 pounds. We also had to buy a folding table, plastic sheeting, trash bags, bags for the vac sealer (a friend already owned the machine itself), and some other miscellany that I forget at the moment. Between the four of us that went to do the butchering, at least one person had some of the rest of the equipment that we needed.

We had a fairly decent idea of how we wanted to cut up the animal when we got there, but there were also a lot of last minute decisions guided by our farmer friend (like how to cut up one of the hams into roasts). I have been doing some charcuterie work for a few years now, so I was already pretty familiar with rendering lard, grinding meat, that kind of stuff. The head cheese was a first but actually pretty simple compared to other terrines; we also stuffed sausage for the very first time that evening and that probably could have gone more smoothly but we ended up with an edible product so I'm not going to complain.

The bellies are actually in my smoker as I type this, so we should have completed bacon in a few hours.
posted by backseatpilot at 1:02 PM on January 17, 2016 [44 favorites]


Another reason to document the process is for your own reference, because it provides a visual and written guide to what you did, which tools you used, which cuts you chose, what went well, and what you'd do differently next time--an especially valuable thing when you butcher once a year, and might forget about the need for extra tubs or insulated boots or lots of paper towels.

That is quite a mix of breeds, backseatpilot!
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:14 PM on January 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


[Couple comments deleted, if this doesn't interest you, move on.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 1:18 PM on January 17, 2016 [17 favorites]


Oh, I did mean to add that the hardest part for me didn't come until we were preparing the heads for the head cheese and one of the halves still had the brain in it. I had to let someone else scoop it out.
posted by backseatpilot at 1:26 PM on January 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


These wonderful self-sufficiency projects make even ridiculously sensitive folks living in cities dream of animal husbandry, of raising a pig and then slitting open its throat when the time is nigh.

As one of these people, my ridiculous question is: Would a judicious dose of hydrocodone interfere with the outcome of the meat, or would it be the perfect mercy for what has now become one of my best friends?
posted by gorgor_balabala at 1:27 PM on January 17, 2016


That reminds me, I really need pig and cow hearts in Brooklyn. Anyone?

Greene Grape Provisions in Fort Greene has an amazing butcher. They're huge on nose-to-tail, everything-but-the-oink butchery: they have offal, organs, and hearts available, and make their own sausage in-house from bits and pieces leftover from trimming or that they don't sell (plus soap and candles from leftover fat). I'm midway through making a curry from some lamb heads I picked up there earlier. It's a little on the pricy side, but the quality of the meat is incredible.

You might want to call before you go if you don't live in the area, though, they get a certain amount of meat weekly (one pig, one lamb, and half a cow IIRC), and once they sell something they're out till next week so they might or might not have any heart at any given time.
posted by Itaxpica at 1:40 PM on January 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


I would guess that halal markets would have cow hearts or lamb hearts (obviously not pig hearts). Hispanic butchers might have cow and pig. Both of those are likely to be cheaper than a yupscale artisan-beard butcher.
posted by kenko at 1:42 PM on January 17, 2016


(Not that there's anything wrong with yupscale artisan-beard butchers!)
posted by kenko at 1:42 PM on January 17, 2016


Yeah, my yupscale artisan-beard butcher of choice, is definitely more expensive (like 2x-3x more expensive) than supermarket meat. I mostly go because I know the meat is from local farms where the animals are treated well, and I'd personally rather eat more humanely-raised meat less often, versus factory-farmed meat more often.
posted by Itaxpica at 1:46 PM on January 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Did you feed the liver to the dogs?
posted by cromagnon at 1:56 PM on January 17, 2016


As a long-time vegetarian, I want to say thank you. Thank you for keeping that farmer in business and that pig out of a life of misery and cruelty in a factory farm, for using the entire animal and not letting anything go to waste, for the unflinching awareness of where your meat comes from, and for respecting the animal that feeds you. Thank you.
posted by jesourie at 1:57 PM on January 17, 2016 [33 favorites]


See also Elisabeth Luard's The Old World Kitchen - worth it for the recipes, but also for the preface. The Luards moved from middle-class England to functioning peasant regions and managed to feed themselves because neighbors volunteered amazing amounts of help. After the first pig-slaughtering, neighbor Maria (who has been working with them all day with her husband, brother in law, cousins, and mother) says "Please forgive me, but did your mother teach you nothing at all?"
posted by clew at 2:08 PM on January 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


I am sad that no sanguinaccio was made and devoured
posted by poffin boffin at 2:12 PM on January 17, 2016


"Please forgive me, but did your mother teach you nothing at all?"

Not to do with pigs, no. But I have learned. This is something I wrote in the wake of a bad death; skip it if you don't want to hear about the work of putting down and processing a pig.

From the lustiness of a healthy pig a man derives a feeling of personal lustiness; the stuff that goes into the trough and is received with such enthusiasm is an earnest of some later feast of his own, and when this suddenly comes to an end and the food lies stale and untouched, souring in the sun, the pig's imbalance becomes the man's, vicariously, and life seems insecure, displaced, transitory." -- E. B. White


A new chore this week was looking after a lamed pig. We found her last Sunday, tail end missing and unable to get up. By this morning, she was hanging on a gambrel and pulley hoist in the neighbor's pole barn, minus head, guts, and skin. How she went from one state to the other after several days of watchful, increasingly hopeless waiting is a story I had hoped never to need to tell.

Spotty was born last spring to a first-time mother and a tube of boar semen. She took after her mother with her spotted reddish coat and white socks, the sweetest-looking of the litter. The plan was to allow her to grow out and to artificially inseminate her in the early winter so that she'd have spring piglets. Hers was a reprieve, even as she watched her brothers and sisters and cousins get sold, fattened in another pasture, loaded onto the trailer for their trip to the butcher. She grew.

But as the smallest of the four pigs in the pasture, she was pushed aside at mealtime and frequently missed out on prime real estate -- a corner full of deep straw bedding -- in their shelter. Her mother lost interest in her, and Spotty stopped trotting after Dapple. The two sows and the barrow had decided that this little piggy was the least of them, and one of them declared this, irrevocably, by biting off the tip of her tail and crushing her back legs. We found her sitting down in the icy snow, unable to get her footing, unable to get up, and she screamed mightily when we passed a tow strap under her belly and hauled her across the pasture and into a Port-a-Hut, so she'd be protected from the other pigs. I showered her with loose flakes of fresh straw, brought her kitchen scraps and a bucket of water, watched her root around and bury the front of her body in the dusty insulation. She settled. She was in the same position the next morning.

I spent the week feeding and watering her, and encouraging her to get up. I pleaded. I moved the food pan just beyond her snout in hopes she'd lean forward and get up a bit. I tried, unsuccessfully, to give her the over-the-counter pain reliever the vet recommended when another pig had gone lame. She only grew angrier with me, several times chomping on my hand or arm and once, memorably, trying to bite my face off. Still I tried, placing the plastic red sorting panel between us, bracing my back against the doorway, and pushing her into a different position. She would not be moved.

I swore. Not at her, but at the collapse of hope. Mid-week, I knew that things were not moving in the right direction. Meanwhile, without consulting me, my husband called the neighbor, called a hunting buddy, making arrangements for a killing. On Friday, he told me about the new plan, and we agreed: If she couldn't get up on Saturday morning, we'd put her down. Whereupon the problem would become raising her up again. I laid there in the dusty straw and watched the untouched water freeze over, sweated inside my insulated gear, and cursed the bad luck that had finally come upon us. We have recovered escaped pigs on multiple occasions; lost few piglets to roll-overs; generally avoided being injured while in the pasture with them or while loading up for the trip to the butcher. Part of that ease was down to skill and hard work, and I got comfortable with the long streak of great good fortune. My fat and sassy pigs were proof of my becoming: great solid ovals on four legs, cartoon pigs, and then me, standing in the pasture in barn boots and a checked apron, doling out kitchen scraps to these lumbering beasts, and if the pigs looked like something out of a children's book by Richard Scarry, then I resembled a farm woman out of a Norman Rockwell painting -- resilient, sensible, able, unflappable, resourceful. Spotty's decline was mine, too.

***

Though we were up at 5:30 this morning, my husband and I dawdled over coffee in the kitchen, neither wanting to gear up for what came next. He told me I didn't have to watch. I put on overalls and insulated boots, fed Spotty, and passed thick yellow tow straps under her belly as she ate. The neighbor arrived. The hunting buddy arrived. It was my pig, but everything went out of my hands as they hauled her out of her shelter and onto the snow. They suspended her, and her back legs fell down, and when they let go, she sat in the cold and looked confused. No. We knew: no. She urinated and defecated as they dragged her to the spot where we had opened the fence. My husband drew an X on her forehead with a fat black Sharpie, stepped back, and fired.

She convulsed, and the hunting buddy leaned down and severed her neck to let her bleed out. Her blood ran through the snow and ice, a crimson river with bright red frothy banks. Instead of looking at her, I busied myself with taking straw from the shelter and shaking it over the stain, and crying. It took but a minute to secure her legs with rope and drive a four-wheeler across the neighbor's yard to deposit the carcass outside his pole ban.

The neighbor is a hunter. Every fall, he puts several deer in the freezer, which is why he had a gambrel and pulley hoist at the ready inside the barn. By the time I arrived, the carcass was laying on a bloody plastic sheet, the guys had attached its (not her) rear legs to ropes, and they were ready to haul on them against the pulleys to raise the body up. The torpedo heater was firing, raising the temperature to a balmy 44 degrees, and Del McCoury's high lonesome tenor played on the radio. They pulled, and the carcass arched and then went straight up, and steam rose from the bloody neck.

The neighbor's hunting buddy is younger than we are and, frankly, far more experienced with field dressing animals. He had never skinned a pig -- although he treats hides -- and yet took over as boss, opening his knife kit, and reaching high to cut a circle around the skin above the hoof. He talked as he worked. Man conversation: how to move a dead bear a mile over a rough forest floor; which parts of a bear should be eaten and how they should be prepared; his memories of hunting with his grandfather. He and the neighbor carefully separated skin from fat, flaying their way down the body. A second pig emerged, an inside-out skin. It finally fell away. What had been Spotty's distinctive coat was a rumpled pile on a plastic tarp. I hadn't done much to this point, other than to ask questions and take photos, but I helped steady the stripped body as they removed the head, which until then had been wobbling independently of the rest, like a hula dancer on a dashboard.

A bone saw did for the rib cage. The hunting buddy reached inside and loosened the organs. Intestines. Stomach. Liver. Lungs and heart. Kidneys. An ovary. The stuff of life. There the carcass hung, stripped of identity and innards, and the guys slipped out of seriousness and into the ease of knowing that a hard job has been done, and done well. I left to go home and tend the fire. The merciful snow began to fall, covering me, covering the red evidence of the morning's work.
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:23 PM on January 17, 2016 [87 favorites]


The biggest reason I want to build a barn in my field is so we can breed our own pigs and do our own butchering when the time comes. We've raised three batches of feeder pigs and every time I have to load them in the truck I find myself wishing we had a private, clean place to do the processing. It's important to me to give them a good life and part of that is a good death. This kind of step by step breakdown is so helpful.
posted by annathea at 2:49 PM on January 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


.
posted by Dashy at 4:05 PM on January 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


I am sad that no sanguinaccio was made and devoured

We actually didn't get any of the blood, which I was a little disappointed by. The pigs were all slaughtered a couple days before we received them, and from what I was told the abattoir doesn't generally retain the blood.

Did you feed the liver to the dogs?

One of the other people who bought in to our pig took the liver and other organs (minus the tongue which went in to the head cheese) and was planning to roast or dry them for the dogs. I haven't picked up my portion of that yet.

Small amounts of pig liver are also good as part of a terrine forcemeat, but I didn't have plans to make one any time soon so I didn't bother trying to freeze a small liver chunk. I'll need to plan these things out better next time.
posted by backseatpilot at 4:20 PM on January 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


"This is how the butcher receives hogs, and this is how we would also receive them – wrapped in thin plastic bags and piled in the back of a pickup truck."

Here's where I stopped expecting a considered realization of what eating meat means. The title, "I Butchered a Pig," suggests that the author had slaughtered a pig, so I was expecting something more brave, less DIY Pinterest for Dads. The author's exercise, while granted more laborious than a trip to the supermarket's meat counter, deserves no more kudos, imo.
posted by applemeat at 4:29 PM on January 17, 2016


The title, "I Butchered a Pig," suggests that the author had slaughtered a pig

Really? To me it suggests that the author butchered a pig. I think the title "I Slaughtered a Pig" would be more in line with a suggestion that the author had slaughtered a pig.

Someone could just as well have slaughtered a pig and written that up without producing "a considered realization of what eating meat means", for that matter.
posted by kenko at 4:42 PM on January 17, 2016 [30 favorites]


This article about a pig slaughter in Moldavia, for instance, is free from ponderous maunderings, and just documents what goes in to a village pig slaughter, which isn't that surprising, since it's SOP to the participants, not a Return to the Primeval or anything like that. Why someone either slaughtering or a pig or merely butchering one ought to be presumed to be in the business of getting in touch with the true meaning of Christmas or finally realizing in the fateful moment of killing what it Really Means to eat an animal is utterly beyond me.

(NB there are images at that link of pig blood etc.)
posted by kenko at 4:46 PM on January 17, 2016 [7 favorites]


I'd also note that very few people in this thread have been giving the author kudos for his moral seriousness (and I think that's totally appropriate).
posted by kenko at 4:48 PM on January 17, 2016


The title, "I Butchered a Pig," suggests that the author had slaughtered a pig, so I was expecting something more brave, less DIY Pinterest for Dads.

I don't know that slaughtering an animal for meat consumption is really something about bravery rather than bacon. That said I would not only subscribe to Meat Pinterest, but also to any YouTube channel with Human Fights Pig feats of bravado, for those who require more derring-do in their meat journalism. I suggest Trident 'n Net Pig vs Gladius human as a first matchup.
posted by Hypatia at 5:41 PM on January 17, 2016


kenko, thanks for the link to the Moldavian pig butchering. "Slabs of fat are cut up in squares, salted and stored in jars. Out of parsimony and respect for the pig and the work entailed, the idea of these pig slaughtering rituals is not to lose one bit. In my Swiss canton of Valais, people used to say Dans le cochon, tout est bon, 'in a pig you can eat everything'." Very interesting to see another procedure.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:50 PM on January 17, 2016


✅ I have eaten this user's delicious pork products in the real world.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:03 PM on January 17, 2016 [8 favorites]


There are some comments in this thread that I want to favorite out of admiration and respect—MonkeyToes' in particular—but I'm also not sure I want to read them again.

I eat meat. I haven't gotten this close to its processing myself, but I hope at least that my purchasing choices help
to encourage the care and efficiency demonstrated here. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience with those who are looking for it.
posted by Songdog at 6:14 PM on January 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


Man people will hate on the strangest things. I mean really, you want to go with if you didn't slit its throat and hear its death screams it doesn't count for anything? What a bitter angle to take.

Go backseatpilot.

Also MonkeyToes please tell me you have or have considered writing and publishing at least the occasional essay if not an entire short story collection focusing on life on a small working farm. You write really well and yours is an important story in the age of agribusiness.
posted by pipoquinha at 6:42 PM on January 17, 2016 [13 favorites]


My daughter is six. She has just in this past year understood that all meat does not come from a mysterious meat-source called "chicken" - Steak, bacon, porkchops, hamburger, salmon, drumsticks, nuggets, fishsticks, they were all labeled "Chicken."

Mostly so she could complain "Chicken? Again? What happened to macaroni and cheese?"

But now she is six. Humans are predators of cows. Chickens and turkeys are the prey of people. Bacon and ham is made from prey.

She is much more cool with it than I was at six.

I said all that intending to nerd out with the knives. That is a truly motley assortment of blades. How'd you pick them, re-handle them, sharpen them keen? Knife nerds need to know! Also, I have a new generation of human to train as a knife-nerd.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:22 PM on January 17, 2016


Thanks monkeytoes.

. for poor young Spotty.
posted by Philby at 7:42 PM on January 17, 2016


The author's exercise, while granted more laborious than a trip to the supermarket's meat counter, deserves no more kudos, imo.

Whuh oh! Sorry, we'll stop kudosing
posted by Greg Nog at 8:03 PM on January 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


OK why does kudosing make me think of Kuato when we are discussing body parts? Oh right.
posted by pipoquinha at 8:10 PM on January 17, 2016


The title, "I Butchered a Pig," suggests that the author had slaughtered a pig

Congratulations! You learned something: slaughtering and butchering are two different operations, and traditionally, two different jobs. For our next lesson, we'll learn that "I Baked a Birthday Cake" does not mean that the author grew and harvested wheat and sugar cane.
posted by neroli at 8:11 PM on January 17, 2016 [24 favorites]


Great post, thanks....

Backseatpilot... well written and photographed, thanks..

(And, for those of you that don't follow every comment and post by Monkeytoes, now you know you should!)
posted by HuronBob at 8:27 PM on January 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


There is a nearby farm which sells pigs for roasting (or will roast them for you). Roasting a pig is a labor of love and pretty much takes the whole day from prepping the pig to tending the fire and periodically turning the spit. Cutting up and serving has a lot in common with backseatpilot's work. I have done this twice with much smaller pigs and when cooked, the grease gets on everything while you're cutting up and serving. There is a picture that a neighbor took of me and a friend cutting up the pig and my wife's dog was under the table, lying on his back in bliss. Not surprised; these pigs were not factory pigs and with a 50 pound pig, we filled the bellies of close to 3 dozen people and sent them home with zip lock bags of leftovers.

My friend, as he cut up the belly said something like, "How are the pork belly futures?" The only answer: delicious.

For the curious, we got the pig the afternoon before, salt-rubbed it, wrapped it in a tarp, and put it in a couple of kiddie pools popped riveted together into telophase with several bags of ice. The next morning around 5, I spitted the pig, put several heads of garlic and several large bunches of rosemary into the body cavity and sewed it shut with stainless steel wire, also trussing the feet to the spit with same. Cooked it over cordwood for about 9 hours, IIRC.
posted by plinth at 8:43 PM on January 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Horace Rumpole: "✅ I have eaten this user's delicious pork products in the real world."

Bastard. Stop taunting the rest of us.
posted by Samizdata at 8:47 PM on January 17, 2016


plinth: "There is a nearby farm which sells pigs for roasting (or will roast them for you). Roasting a pig is a labor of love and pretty much takes the whole day from prepping the pig to tending the fire and periodically turning the spit. Cutting up and serving has a lot in common with backseatpilot's work. I have done this twice with much smaller pigs and when cooked, the grease gets on everything while you're cutting up and serving. There is a picture that a neighbor took of me and a friend cutting up the pig and my wife's dog was under the table, lying on his back in bliss. Not surprised; these pigs were not factory pigs and with a 50 pound pig, we filled the bellies of close to 3 dozen people and sent them home with zip lock bags of leftovers.

My friend, as he cut up the belly said something like, "How are the pork belly futures?" The only answer: delicious.

For the curious, we got the pig the afternoon before, salt-rubbed it, wrapped it in a tarp, and put it in a couple of kiddie pools popped riveted together into telophase with several bags of ice. The next morning around 5, I spitted the pig, put several heads of garlic and several large bunches of rosemary into the body cavity and sewed it shut with stainless steel wire, also trussing the feet to the spit with same. Cooked it over cordwood for about 9 hours, IIRC.
"

Same to you too.
posted by Samizdata at 8:50 PM on January 17, 2016


Wish I had this experience when killed a cape buffalo. An ax and a large bowie knife in 90F heat makes for a hot, stinky, bloody day. Did I mention the flies?
posted by boilermonster at 9:11 PM on January 17, 2016


I'm not going to RTFA, because I don't eat meat and don't care to know too much about the details. But I do think that if one chooses to eat meat, it's a great idea for several reasons to know what that really means, and to do stuff like this. It's more honest than just buying ready made pieces of muscles and other organs at the supermarket. I also think it's very commendable to do ones best to use up all of a slaughtered animal.
So as a person who does not eat meat, I think this is a Good Thing. It may be a positive example to others who eat meat. Thanks for posting.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:37 PM on January 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


I keep ducks, turkeys, and geese. I slaughter some ducks every year, turkeys less often, geese never because geese are sophisticated enough to be reproachful.

I could have them processed and packaged if I wanted to sell them, or if I wanted to pay someone else for the work, but I sell live birds and I always like knowing that, even though they're upset and confused to be boxed and put into a car, when they get to a new place they'll make a new home there. I don't want to send birds on a car trip if settling in to a new home isn't at the end of the ride, so I slaughter them myself when I have to. That way it's as little distress as I can make it, as I only carry them to the cone hanging up around the corner of the house near the duck pen.

It's an actual orange traffic cone, pointy end down, with the hole enlarged to accommodate a duck's head. Drake, really, as I can always sell a duck but drakes are over-plentiful like roosters - drake goes into the cone head-down and tail up, so the head comes out the hole at bottom, and the body's immobilized by gravity.

It's a clean cut on each side of the throat with a razor sharp knife, and I read so many accounts from survivors of exsanguination to be certain I understood as well as possible what the experience is like: as best I can tell, passing out from low blood pressure. The drake can't move much, obviously, but I hold his head just the same and wait with him as he goes.

People have asked to watch, so they can learn to process their own birds, but I always say no. In that time my responsibility is to be with each bird, not anyone else.

The heart pumps the blood out, and after the agonal twitching is done, I separate the head by cutting between the vertebrae. It doesn't need the head off to become a thing, it's very much already not a creature anymore. The neck is good for making stock, so I cut it at the base as well and save it, then trim the neck skin down to around the body.

Then I dip the body into the big stock pot, which is simmering on a propane burner around maybe 150 degrees F. It's sudsy because there is dish soap in the water - Dawn, the one that now has a duckling on the bottle, because the Universe is perverse like that. The detergent breaks through the waterproofed oily feathers so the hot water can penetrate to the skin all over, and loosen the feathers to make plucking easier. A minute swishing in the water and it's out and dripping and steaming, but will cool pretty fast because this is a job I prefer to do when there's no flies and plenty of snow. The feathers come out almost by the handful if you did it right, and the wing quills come out like pulling a ballpoint out of its cap, and not even the tender skin on the breast will tear. The tail has big oily glands in it for preening, and because I'm not making pretty carcasses for sale I just cut the whole tail off entirely, because those glands are deep and not at all delicious.

The insides are easily managed once you've freed things up around the lower colon and got it well out of the way. Duck testes are enormous, like giant creamy kidneys. Lungs are bright red froth to scrape and rinse out of the inside-back. The actual kidneys are tucked into the crevices between the backbones as well. The gizzard is like a big hard clam shell, and if you cut into it there's gravel inside for grinding food. If a bird dies unexpectedly, sometimes you find a nail or something in the gizzard. I confess I still waste the livers.

Plucked, you can see how the breast is almost like a fatty raft for the duck to skim around the water on, and you can see where smooth fatty skin transitions to orange and scaly at the hocks. Those separate off easily, a twist at the joint to pop the tendons out of their grooves, then just snip the tendons and it's not a leg anymore, it's a drumstick, and you understand very well about handling them alive: why to not grab them by their legs, and why to not let them fly to the ground if you can put them down gently, because duck legs aren't sturdy, and every butchering is a reminder of how necessary it is to treat the living with care.

It's just birds, but that's what slaughtering is like for me.
posted by Lou Stuells at 12:38 AM on January 18, 2016 [20 favorites]


I just started working at a new restaurant, right before they had their fifth anniversary party, for which they wanted to smoke a whole pig. For whatever reason, there seems to be some sort of Japanese law forbidding the sake of whole full grown pigs, so we ended up a whole pig split in half. Unfortunately, the pig was quite large, and ended up needing to quarter it to fit it in the (no, seriously) quite large smoker. It was my first time really handling that much pig at once (and each side was about 35kg, so, also, heavy). The guy who had been the original barbecue guy for the bar came back for the weekend, and he and I spent some time chatting and looking at the carcass.

I make my own sausages, bacon, and such. I'm quite used to dealing with whole bellies, or beef chuck, but seeing the cross section of a pig in front of, in real life was special to me. I can freehand draw out a diagram of the primal cuts of a pig. I know what part is what, but seeing them intact, connected to each other is probably as close to a religious experience as I'm likely to have these days.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:52 AM on January 18, 2016 [5 favorites]


> ✅ I have eaten this user's delicious pork products in the real world.

Not the ones in the icebox, I hope...
posted by Lou Stuells at 1:49 PM on January 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Pork in the Ice Box" sounds like an Appalachian folk tune.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:56 PM on January 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


I keep ducks, turkeys, and geese. I slaughter some ducks every year...

In his autobiography, Jacques Pépin relates a story of him and a fellow chef driving in upstate New York, past some family farms, and seeing a sign that read, "Ducks for sale." They pulled over, chose a few particularly tasty-looking ones, paid the farmer, and seconds later, slaughtered them for the car ride. The farmer wigged the fuck out, as she was selling them as pets.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:23 PM on January 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


This sounds great, but sheesh, I sold a pig of about the same weight for $500 a couple months ago.
posted by aetg at 3:32 PM on January 18, 2016


I sold a pig of about the same weight for $500 a couple months ago.

Do you have a beard?
posted by kenko at 3:39 PM on January 18, 2016


Lol, no
posted by aetg at 3:41 PM on January 18, 2016


Bastard. Stop taunting the rest of us.

They are really really good.
posted by maryr at 8:04 AM on January 19, 2016


I have come to this FPP late, but thanks for doing this backseatpilot. I have chickens and I was bound and determined that I would not have any chickens unless I could cull them myself. I don't have broilers but I wasn't about to have to call someone or let a chicken suffer if something happened, which it has a few times. I have now taught my neighbors how, as they have chickens and were not prepared when one of them got very sick. While I don't love it, I am incredibly proud of having this skill.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:05 AM on January 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


Is eating chickens that fall ill a good idea?
posted by kenko at 1:15 PM on January 28, 2016


Euthanasia for chickens which are suffering--very sick or badly injured--doesn't necessarily mean eating the meat, although depending on what the injury or sickness is it might. It's still worth doing. I know how to quickly and cleanly kill the mice I work with with my hands for similar reasons to the ones Sophie1 describes, and I have zero interest in eating them.
posted by sciatrix at 2:29 PM on January 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Fair point.
posted by kenko at 3:47 PM on January 28, 2016


I just perform the euthanasia. I definitely don't butcher and eat them, although I did learn how.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:35 AM on January 29, 2016


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