Cooking & Eating, Ingredients, Savory

Going Hog Wild (or, Pigging out?)

My friend Linda thought that I’d call her crazy. She thought that I’d tell her that her plan was too much, or too ambitious, or that our freezers could never hold all the bounty. She thought, perhaps, that I was not quite so committed to the cult of the cloven hoof as she.

But Linda, dear readers(!), was mistaken. And now, we have half a hog between us.

Yup. That’s right. Half a hog. Eighty-five pounds of meat. Or, to quote for you all from the invoice:

15 Italian Sausage Grillers
11 two-packs of Center Cut Pork Chops
2 Half Racks of Spare Ribs
7 “Fat Blocks” (My quotes, because I just can’t quite believe this one)
2 Fresh Hams
1 Tenderloin
1 Whole Liver (My, this thing is massive. And will probably require some research)
3 Shoulder Roasts
1 Boston Butt
1 package of Bacon Ends
8 packages of Sliced Bacon
1 package of wee piggy Neck Bones

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="480" caption="Courtesy of SugarMtnFarm.com"][/caption]

There’s a lot of pig there — it’s true. And I can totally see why Linda may have thought I’d call her crazy. I can even see why some part of her would want me to. But crazy is as crazy does, as they say. And what I did was readily agree to this scheme.

Here’s the story: just over a week ago — right before I went out of town (and took a brief, unannounced blogging hiatus), I got an email from our trusty CSALancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative. LFFC, as we affectionately call them, had just butchered a handful of pigs, and they were offering a limited number of half-pig shares to their loyal and devoted customers (that’s me).

I looked at the email, and I thought — nah! And then I looked at it again and thought — yum! And then I got a call from Linda telling me that she really wanted one of these. She had done some math, she said, and it turns out that buying half a pig is considerably cheaper than buying bits of pig, here and there, in a grocery store. She told me: I mean, come on! Who doesn’t buy half of eighty-five pounds of pork (42.5 lbs, for those of you keeping track) every year anyway? She told me that she really liked the idea of knowing that not only was her pork humanely treated and slaughtered, but that it all came from the same animal.

And that’s what sold me.

I’m with her. I am more than enamored of the idea that all my pork is coming from the same pig — and not just for the novelty of such an innovation, in our industrial age. To my mind, what it does is ensure to me that the unpopular bits of the pig aren’t going to waste. It isn’t that I think that LFFC is throwing out the odds and ends, whole hog as it were. I trust them. I’m sure that they must do something with the gritty bits under ordinary circumstances, whether it’s turning them into sausage, or keeping them for the farmers, or something else. But if I am buying half a pig, and getting that whole half, I don’t have to guess where the rest of it goes. Because I know. Because I have it here, in my freezer.*

To put it another way — to use a politics metaphor — it isn’t that I think that my representatives are corrupt. Rather, I think that it’s good, both for them and for me, if I have some way of keeping them honest. Checks and balances, people. That’s what the pig share does.

At any rate — I have my pig. And what it means, I think, is that you can expect that there will be a considerable number of hog-centric posts here in the next few months, as I begin to work my way through all that meat. There may be ribs. There will almost certainly be a second go at char siu. I haven’t ruled out rendering my own lard. And as for everything else … I’m thinking about it.

If you (dear readers!) have any favorite pork dishes that you would like me to try — or if you have dishes that you’ve only heard about and would like to see before you experiment yourself — let me know. I may now be able to indulge requests.

* Most of the pig, for the record, is actually in Linda’s freezer. She has one of those top-loading dealies with much more capacity than my little fridge-top cubby hole.