Thursday, January 27, 2011
81 Pounds of Hog Heaven
It's BACON! We split half a hog with our friends. This hog was raised on a nearby farm and processed at our local butcher which is a nice, family owned shop located out along the back roads. They process deer and many of the fresh meats for local fundraising events and parish picnics. They stock the typical chicken, pork and beef throwing in some more unusual items such as elk, bison and a whole host of sausages, even a pig ear or two for your pups. It stands next to the used car lot by the same name, really more intermingled, sort of a one stop shopping experience if you are in the market for a side of beef and a trunk to haul it in.
Our neighbors had the butcher process their half, making the bacon, cutting chops and curing the ham. We wanted our half as is- we're going to learn to do this ourselves with the end result of a fresh hog processed without artificial additives, except the nitrite that is mixed into the cure and is included in all hams. It turns it pink.
We started with a pork belly which will become bacon. We cut it into pieces that fit nicely in a non-reactive dish-we used glass. You have to keep the meat elevated so it does not sit in the juices that are leached out by the salt that we rubbed on it. This was just Kosher salt.
After salting, cover the dish with cling wrap and place it in a refrigerator at 38 degrees. We have a spare refrigerator in the basement, one that we brought back from my grandmothers house. Now you wait for five days. After that you smoke the meat for about five or six hours. It was cold outside so that time might be reduced in fair weather.
We have various other pieces to process: the hock, neck bones, shoulder, butt and jowl. Tom jumped on the neck bones right away making a dinner of tender pork and sauerkraut.
The ham was injected with the quick cure and rubbed with sugar cure. We placed it in a large plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator. We will take it out after a week and add more cure, placing it back in the refrigerator for about a month.
The pork shoulder was smoked along with the butt for about 17 hours and finished off in the oven.
The butt is so tender it just falls apart. We pulled it and sealed it in one pound packages using a vacuum sealer.
We ground bits and pieces and sealed them in one pound packages.
The bacon came out simply delicious. We did not slice it yet, just packaged it up and froze the portion we will not use for awhile. It's smoky, salty and very meaty.
We are pretty set for meat now, still having some beef left over from last year. Hopefully the ham will turn out well since it's 17 pounds. We'll divide it up as well, freezing for future use.