Monday, April 16, 2012


What can you say about a pig ? from where I stand, plenty and it is all good ! Yeah, yeah we heard it all before, pigs are dirty, pigs are bad for you as they are full of fat and cholesterol, not including the religious aspect (I won't go there) so, blah blah blah. Well, here is the rub (pun still intended), my friend and fellow Chef Georges Brown got a whole pig but just not any pig, that one came from Niman Ranch in California meaning farm raised and good quality pork.
This thing tipped the scale at 230 lbs net weight and the only thing missing on it was the head, darn I was soooooooooooooooooo looking forward to make a great head cheese, I was a bit disappointed but not for long as it came with the feet. Yeah, you got it right !
Nice feet !
 We saved them for a special occasion when our Chef's soul will be screaming for the ultimate porkiness. I know you already have that disgusted look just reading this, trust me it is just your mind playing porky games with you but it will be very delish for some of us down the road !

Pork chops motherload and good looking leg !
For those of you who love eating pork (like me) it would be well worth it to get some of what I call "heirloom pork" meaning from pure breeds such as : Berkshire, Red Wattles, Kurabuta etc. You just can't go to your supermarket and ask for it as they just do not carry those things but if you know a Chef or have connections in the food industry it is not that difficult ie, you don't ask, you don't get ! This pig was a good size pig as the hind legs that we decided to turn into Proscuitto style dry cured hams weighted 30 lbs each ! Now, that's a ham ! That's the good news, the bad news is that we will have to wait 12 to 15 months till these twins are ready to impress and we know that so we are ready to wait and savor the moments which will bring plenty of discussions, anticipation of a time blessed, mother nature driven specialty which does not come from the store .

For this project I did use my best, oldest, special knives and tools and realized that most of us Chefs have toooooooooooooo many knives acquired over a life time of work and travels but sooner or later we are bound to use them all for the right occasion and this was no different.

                                     See ? I came prepared !

I have done this type of butchering many times before but not recently and did not forget how to go about it or where to start, The tenderloins, skirts and flanks came off first, then the hind legs , then the shoulders, then the bellies for bacon and Pancetta,the neck muscles/shoulder  behind the head for CoppaCola came next, then the loins for Lonzino and we were left with the whole racks of which one became the most gorgeous and appetizing pork chops you've ever seen with the other being Frenched for roasting later. After all this we were not done yet as what we got so far was primal cuts. Now we went back and cut, trimmed and shaped all this meat into final smaller cuts which made for a long list of different things to be enjoyed soon.

Do you know lardo the way I know lardo ?

I ran a yield test on this pig and here some numbers:
Racks/pork chops:                  20 lbs
Hams for Proscuitto:              58 lbs
Trimmings for sausage:         18 lbs
Lardo:                                     6 lbs
Other fats:                               24 lbs
Bones:                                     20 lbs
You get the idea, lots of meat and pure white fat. I just can't wait for the lardo which will be thinly sliced and laid on toasted sour dough bread, Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm !
The pig has something for everyone, feet, tail you name it ! It's all good.
This morning we are making the Andouille sausage and curing some of the shoulder muscles for Petit Salé. A lot of work, maybe but  a lot of fun, learning and sharing that's for sure. Georges, I am ready for the Red Wattles pig as soon as that baby maxes out on his fat cover,bring it on !

No comments:

Post a Comment