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AmyBK

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This little piggy went home-Adventures in charcuterie

by AmyBK » Tue Sep 04, 2012 2:56 pm

Having been raised by a world class shopper, I love a good deal. I also love, love, love pork. So when I read on LHB that Fiedler Family farms was having a retirement sale, I started pondering what the heck would we do with a whole processed piggy and I couldn’t stop thinking about the possibilities. Nothing ventured, nothing gained! So for the last few weeks we’ve been eating our way through the chest freezer to prepare for our bounty, a wonderful hormone-free and antibiotic free black heritage piggy.

In preparation, I read “Charcuterie” by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. It’s a great read and makes the subject very accessible to the non-professional cook. It has inspired me to learn how to cure, smoke and preserve on my own. I have visions of bacon, guanicale, and pancetta running through my head. If you have ever done any charcuterie at home and have tips I’d love to read them.

So what do you get when you order a whole piggy? Well your mileage will vary, depending on what you want to keep and what you want to leave at the butcher’s. No offal or head for us, thanks! I’ll be braver next time. Maybe. The heart is off to the UofL medical school for them to use for practice. From a 270lb pig, we got 161lbs of meat and an additional 30 lbs or so of leaf fat and fatback. So our freezer inventory is:
26 lbs pork belly (bacon)
29 lbs ground unseasoned pork (trimmings, picnic shoulders)
54 pork chops
6 lbs spare ribs
6 lbs jowl
5 lbs neck bones
25 lbs ham roasts
10 lbs butt roasts
2 ears

It took 3 large chest coolers to get it home. I highly recommend letting the butcher vac-seal your cuts rather than wrapping in butcher paper, so you can see what you’ve got and it will keep longer. I elected to keep the ham and pork belly fresh rather than cured, so I could play. With all that ham, I decided to have the shoulders ground for sausage rather than keeping them as roasts. We are also not big fans of pork loin roasts so decided to do more chops rather than carve out the loin roast.

First project now that everything is inventoried and stored in the freezer is to render the leaf fat into leaf lard and to break down the fatback into manageable packages for later sausage production. Wish me luck. Please post your suggestions, experiences. P.s. if you ever get the chance to go to Boone’s Bucher shop in Bardstown, please do so. The prices are insanely good. We got a whole, boneless ribeye for $4.89 a lb!
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Re: This little piggy went home-Adventures in charcuterie

by Andrew A » Tue Sep 04, 2012 4:59 pm

Cool. This fall when it gets colder outside I'm going to process my own hogs here at home and try my hand at some sausage and charcuterie.
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Deb Hall

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Re: This little piggy went home-Adventures in charcuterie

by Deb Hall » Fri Sep 07, 2012 4:45 pm

Amy,
I'm so jealous! Please let us know what you end up making with it all- particularly the pork belly. I've been tempted to play around with it myself ( usually intrigues me right after a great trip to Blind Pig or other place doing great things with it). But my two farmer requests to buy some turned into a 10 lbs or more minimum- and I wasn't quite ready for the investment.

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Re: This little piggy went home-Adventures in charcuterie

by Ken B » Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:36 pm

I might try and do something with a pig head if you ever need to dispose of one...
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Adriel Gray

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Re: This little piggy went home-Adventures in charcuterie

by Adriel Gray » Tue Sep 18, 2012 2:15 pm

Deb Hall wrote:I've been tempted to play around with it myself ( usually intrigues me right after a great trip to Blind Pig or other place doing great things with it). But my two farmer requests to buy some turned into a 10 lbs or more minimum- and I wasn't quite ready for the investment.

Deb


Hit me with a private message Deb and I'd be happy to solve your problem. :)
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Re: This little piggy went home-Adventures in charcuterie

by BevP » Wed Sep 19, 2012 7:14 pm

To quote my Great Niece at age 3.."Pig is Good"...she had asked my sister where bacon came from, my sister told her a bit afraid she might be put off but she wasn't in the least. :D
We love Boone's Butcher Shop in Bardstown the last time we were there my oldest son picked up some pork belly for a very reasonable price.I believe he only got a slab that was about 3 to 4 pounds.I have to bring a couple of coolers with me when we go cause I like to stock up.
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Re: This little piggy went home-Adventures in charcuterie

by AmyBK » Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:33 am

I made my first pass at bacon-curing this past week. I followed Ruhlman's recipe and did the straight up basic cure that is 2 parts kosher salt to 1 part sugar, and 10% curing salt. I dredged a 5 lb slab of belly in the cure and popped it in a big ziploc bag, flipping it every day for 6 days. When the meat firms up, it is cured long enough. Rinsed the cure off and had every intention of smoking it but the weekend got away from me, so we cooked it in a 200 degree oven, until it reached 150 degrees internal temp. Next, we cooled it off and sliced it, now ready for the skillet.

First impression is that it is pretty salty, not that its a bad thing. I love the thick bacon cut and it cooks up in a flash in my cast iron skillet - I was surprised, but makes sense when you think how much water there is in commercial bacon preparation. The homemade stuff stays flat, long and doesn't cause mini-explosions in your skillet.

Next round, I will play with adjusting the saltiness, maybe add brown sugar or sorghum, which I think might be really interesting. Pancetta is on the horizon....
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Re: This little piggy went home-Adventures in charcuterie

by Deb Hall » Mon Oct 01, 2012 11:11 am

Cool!

Amy- how is the pancetta prepared differently from the bacon? I love the stuff and always have it in the house ( freezer), but I'll admit I have no idea how pancetta is made?

Deb
Last edited by Deb Hall on Mon Oct 01, 2012 5:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: This little piggy went home-Adventures in charcuterie

by AmyBK » Mon Oct 01, 2012 5:11 pm

Deb, Pancetta is the same cure process as bacon. After rinsing off the cure, you roll it as tight as possible to eliminate air pockets, tie it and hang it in a cool, dark spot for several weeks. It needs 60-70% humidity. Sounds pretty easy! We are heading out of town mid-month, so will probably wait until we get back to start in on pancetta. I'll report in on how it turns out.
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Re: This little piggy went home-Adventures in charcuterie

by AmyBK » Mon Oct 29, 2012 12:26 pm

We are back from the beach so it was time to starting playing with bacon again. For this round, I used Ruhlman's cure and added about 3/4 cup of Townsend's Sorghum to temper the saltiness of the original cure. After a 6 day cure, we smoked the slab over cherry and apple woods until it reached an internal temp of 150 degrees, cooled and sliced it. After a quick pan fry, it rates a "WOW!" The sorghum added a caramel-like sweetness. The interplay between salty, sweet, and smoke is sublime.

(p.s. there is a great article in yesterday's daily paper about Townsend Sorghum. A special shout out to Ed Vermillion and Cindy for keeping us stocked in sorghum. There will be a slab of bacon in your stocking this Christmas!)
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Deb Hall

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Re: This little piggy went home-Adventures in charcuterie

by Deb Hall » Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:59 pm

Wow- that sounds and looks amazing!
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Re: This little piggy went home-Adventures in charcuterie

by Oliver Able » Thu Nov 01, 2012 12:21 am

Equal parts brown sugar and salt with 10% sel rose followed by a smoke once cured makes for a delicious bacon. May want to try your hand and porchetta as well.

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