Saturday, January 3, 2015

Living High, Low, and In-between on the Hog

From time to time, Ed and I would get some heritage pork from The Mayo Lane Market Wagon and were impressed by how much better it tasted than supermarket pork. We decided to go "whole hog" and purchase our very own pig. It was expensive, but not so high that we had to go into "hock."

Just before the new year, Ed and I drove down to Bardstown to pick up our hog. I say our hog but really it is just half of a hog and it had been neatly processed by Boone Butchers – shrink-wrapped to our specifications and labeled, ready for our freezer. We took the pickup truck and every cooler we owned. Our friends, Lynn and Walt, bought the other half, which we delivered to their door.

Our hog was a heritage breed, pasture-raised on Four Winds Farm, just outside of Frankfort, KY. She was born in the spring and weighed in at 237 pounds when she wiggled off to the market in December. I'm sorry to say I don't know much more about her. I would have liked very much to have met her. I understand that she had a nice life, roaming freely around with only a handful of other pigs and allowed to root and forage to her heart's content. She had a nice bedded pen for sleeping and ample wallows. She wasn't pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormone, but allowed to grow at her natural rate, without tight confinement. She basically lived in "hog heaven."

I realize that this photo is not of a hog. I took it at the butcher shop.
It hangs off the front of the warehouse building and I thought it was impressive.
I do wish it was a hog.

Once home, we unloaded into our basement freezer over a hundred pounds of pork chops, spare ribs, bacon, Boston butt, jowl bacon, ham roasts, hocks, feet, neck bones, tail, ears, shoulder roasts, liver, skin, leaf lard, and two kinds of sausage links.

It took half an hour to unload and organize the packages in our freezer. It is a lot of pig -- and really, most of the time, I'm only feeding Ed and myself. We "wee wee" can't eat 100 pounds of pig, so, if you are invited to dinner at Farm Dover anytime in 2015, you can pretty much be sure that pork will be on the menu.

We are looking forward to enjoying the taste difference between our humanely raised pig and the factory-farmed pork we buy at Kroger. Heritage pigs are known for their flavor, tenderness and juiciness. The meat is pink-hued and heavily marbled. It doesn't need to be cooked to death, but can be safely served slightly pink. Each hog yields about 33 pounds of fat, compared to about 10 pounds from industrial-raised hogs. Ed still talks fondly about the pork roast his mom used to make.  And his dad used to cure country hams for sale at the Galloway Market in Owensboro. It's a high standard to "meat."

Tonight's dinner features pork chops. Maybe bacon tomorrow morning. One of these days soon, I'll figure out how to render the leaf lard for use in biscuits and pie crust. Anybody want the leftover cracklings? I'll report in from time to time on this experiment. Hope I don't "boar" you. "Lard" almighty, wish us luck.

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