The Whole Hog

I have only a few end goals in life:

1) run a marathon

2) get a PhD

3) learn the butchering trade

Recently, beer has become a potential fourth goal, but that is neither here, nor there, at least not for this post.

In pursuit of goal #3, I signed up for a whole hog butchering class with Jesse of Dai Due. How could I not? I mean, have you tasted this man’s magnificent meat? It’s like heaven in mouth; deliciously soul stirring meat heaven in mouth. If that description doesn’t make you run to the Farmer’s Market on Guadalupe this Saturday, well, I don’t know what will.

Moving on..

This Whole Hog Butchering class took place some time ago in the yesteryear of November 21, 2010, but still remains vibrant in memory (and notes and pictures).

Here’s the legend and the beast:

This beautiful creature went from whole hog to shoulder, loin, belly, and leg in no time. Such a sight to behold.

My favorite part of the course, however, was the making of head cheese:

I could go on and on and on like the song that never ends about my meat morals and how no other culinary revival warms my heart like the revival of nose to tail eating, but I’ll spare you the verbose side note … for now, at least. In the meantime, here’s a picture of the classic favorite:

Pork belly! Pre-bacon bacon! But wait, there’s more!!

A whole slew of pretty piggy parts. Racks and hocks and loins – oh my! But what about the rest? We rendered leaf fat for luscious lard, prepared neck meat for rillettes, cured shoulder for tasso ham, braised and roasted belly to eat right out of the oven, and more.

But what was the focus? Oh yeah, SAUSAGE. From this class I went home with fresh liverwurst, kielbasa, chorizo, and boudin blanc. Four significantly different styles of sausage and all four of which were crazy good.

Important things I learned about sausage making: it’s not easy. More detailed? Use a mixer and mix until sticky to prevent crumbling; keep everything as cold as possible for better texture (grinder in freezer style); eyeball for 25% fat; etc..

We’re now about two and a half hours (and about a bottle of wine – did I mention it was BYOB, because it totally was) into the class. What does that mean? Break time! And what does break time at Dai Due mean? Lots of delicious food.

Pate, olive oil poached tuna, herbed cream cheese, pork cracklins, and more.

Break time over = headcheese time.

The cheek meat and tongue are, by far, the best part. This is a little picked over as we then pressed most of the meat (ears included) into a loaf pan to make headcheese. It was delicious right off the stove top, but even more delicious after it had time to gelatinize in the bread pan.

Let’s just say that since this class I have purchased a meat grinder, sausage stuffer, and several books on the topic. Although the home sausage making adventure has yet to begin, I have a feeling it will soon, and, rest assured, I will absolutely post about it.

And on a final note, here’s a list of my current reads:

The River Cottage Meat Book – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery – Jane Grigson

The Whole Beast. Nose to Tail Eating – Fergus Henderson

And a couple sausage making books.

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