Pig Cookery, or… How We Cooked 10 lbs. of Pork Last Night in Less Than an Hour.

A group of us bought and butchered a happy healthy hog, from Guido at True Grass farms.  Then we divided it up into a whole bunch of 10 lb portions for everybody to take home. Here is my portion…

10 lbs of local, fresh pastured pork

Clockwise from the top left: rear leg chunks, country ribs, tenderloin, leaf fat, pork chop, and bone in leg roast. The cuts are all skin on and fat intact for health, flavor and kitchen economy, except, of course, for the tenderloin. The leaf lard, is from the inside of the pig and makes an excellent pastry fat for making biscuits, pie crusts, etc. better than butter for flakiness, and, no, it doesn’t make your pie crust taste piggy. Since we had so much swine of swine, we used some quick and easy recipes to cook some now and preserve some for later. First the dishes…

Oven Roasted Crispy Skinned Pork Chop

Cured Smoked Holiday Ham

Faux Tasso

Braised Pork Belly & Country Ribs

Here is how to cook them…

Crispy Skinned Pork Chop 

Prep: 10 mins.    Cook: 20-40 mins

  A tablespoon of lard, In a cast iron pan set at medium for 5 minutes. Salt the Porkchop and place it skin down in the cast iron pan.  First, it will cook out the liquids from the skin and then it will start to brown. Careful not to burn. Now, You can transfer it to a preheated oven at 375 f. While it was cooking in the oven, we had 40 mins to prep all the other pork cuts.  There were two of us, that helped a lot. Keep an eye on it, you don’t want to overcook this beauty, nor burn the skin. Which should look like that. When the pork chop is 138 f, I take it out and rest it, on a rack, in a warm place, often tented. As it rests the temperature continues to rise a few degrees, which puts me at 143-146, the meat should be just slightly pink, and therefore super juicy tender delicious soft melt in your mouth piggy goodness. Do not try this at home with factory farmed pork, only with swine of the best upbringing from a known source. Hog heaven. We needed a quick salad to go with it.  Tomatoes and onions macerated in red wine vinegar, salt, whey and olive oil. Then tossedd with cucumbers, lettuce chunks and topped with mozzarella. Like I said, while the pork chop was cooking we had thirty minutes to prep the rest of the cuts…

Braised Country Rib

Prep: 15 mins.    Cook: 6 hrs. to Overnight.

Sylvia did this one, here is how… You can see belly, and rib, it is literally the perfect piece. First, she scalded it in hot water for a minute to remove impurities. Really it boiled, sorry the pic missed that. And, she, tossed the water. so, now, it may look cooked, but inside, it is totally raw. Then, put some brown sugar to carmelize in a thick bottom pan on medium high heat. About 30-60  sec. Put in the pork and twist it around, smearing the carmelized sugar all over it, letting it cook a bit on each side, for about five minutes total time, get it colored on all sides till it looks like this… It’s still raw on the inside, but it already looks delicious. Then, Sylvia, added these spices and flavorings. Did you catch that? I see bay leaf, ginger, cloves, coriander, sechuan pepper, star anise, nutmeg, black pepper, orange peel and one more I can’t see… All of this went into the crock pot to cook at 165-180 f, overnight.  House smelled so good in the morning! Meanwhile I prepped…

The Bone-In, Skin On, Brined, smoked, Holiday Ham style Leg Roast:

Prep: 10 mins.    Cook: 2 Weeks to Brine it, Smoke it, Bake it.

Big hunk of delicious pork that I want to eat next week, or the week after, so, I put them in a brine.  Basically, a brine is good salt and  water, and sometimes sugar. I know the pork roast will be fine in my fridge, sitting in brine for a month or more, as long as it is submerged in brine that has enough salt. Brine should taste salty like the sea. Some chefs prefer to measure their salt and water. I do my brines by taste, but I know from experience that they usually run from 20:1 up to 16:1, water to salt ratio, depending on how long a want to preserve the meat. Stronger (16:1) preserves longer. Basically, it is sea water. Which figures, since Mother Nature is a perfectly designed system that we can learn from. As for the rest of the ingredients, recipes vary greatly, so the trick is to begin doing it and learn the principles both through recipes, but more importantly through taste, as you develop your favorite brines for different situations. Herein, I am describing the formula and procedure, as well as the recipe I used this time, which is kinda of a holiday ham feel. Add, the salt and a small portion, like 1/4, of the water, heat and stir too dissolve. Note: If, in the end, you end up with a meat that is too salty, somehow, don’t worry.  Put it in fresh water in the fridge and that will pull out the salt. change water once or twice over a day or two, till the salt is just right. In this case, I put too much, tasted it, realized my mistake and adjusted the water till it tasted like seawater. Tasting is everything. Now, add the rest of your fresh water, preferably mineral, to cool the brine. Sometimes, I even just add ice to make up the rest of my water. Add sugar, to taste. I put three large ceramic teddy bear scoops which seemed good, tasted it and added one more. in retrospect i should have added in maple syrup, but that ain’t cheap.  Ok, so, here you can go anywhere you want in terms of flavor profiles.  I mean, what if i used a recipe for root beer spices added that to my brine, sounds really good to me. Apparently, the ceramic teddy bear keeps the sugar fluffy and nice. Two bay leaves Some peppercorns, like 1/4 of these. Cloves Nutmeg Tumeric, fennel, chili, or anything… Stir. Put pig in brine. Cover Leave in fridge. You should readjust it in a day or two if it is little cramped like mine, to make sure it all get cured. You can pull this roast out and cook it whenever you want, for weeks, if not months… You could literally, take it out of the brine one day, cut off a piece to cook and put the rest back, preserved. You would have the modern equivalent of an old fashioned brine barrel in the root cellar. And, now the pork is sitting in my fridge, getting better.  So, instead of thinking “oh, man. I have that piece of pork in my fridge and it’s probably going bad. ” I am thinking “cool, there’s a piece of pork in my fridge, and it gets better every day. ” So, I still had the chunky pieces. I wanted to make something along the lines of Tasso, which is essentially, super densely spiced and smoked pork pieces that can be used to flavor dishes.

Mock Tasso

Prep: 5 mins.     Cook: 1-2 hrs.

So, I put together some smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, and added pinches of clove, allspice, cinnamon, turmeric, chili, black pepper… And salt to make a dry rub. Dry Rubs Rock. You can make this in larger quantities and have it on hand all the time, make your ingredients sing.  You can also change the spice and herb profile to any cuisine, the one I have here is Cajun inspired, but not authentic. Liberally coat chunks of skin on full fat pork with rub, get it in the crevices. I call this mock because, though I am not from Louisiana, i’ve heard that true tasso would use shoulder which is fattier, not leg, and you salt the meat first, let it cure, then put a more simple rub and smoke it. In any case, mine looks like this Then, it can sit in the fridge overnight. Then roast it, in a very warm cast iron pan, in an oven pre-heated to around 375.  Put the skin side down to crisp it or up to protect the pork from drying out, you decide. When it’s done, cool it, smoke it if you can and then since it’s so heavily flavored, use it in your cooking as a spice, so to speak, in beans, soups, rices, even salads, toasted cheese sandwich, did I mention on avocado toast? I may freeze some of this for later use. So, I still had the tenderloin, arguably the least flavorful and least nutritious cut, yet somehow the most chic, hmmm… i only ended up with it cause nobody else wanted it.  So, I looked at the tenderloin, and it looked back at me, sheepishly.  i looked at the leftover rub on the cutting board, and it was looking back at me too, but more defiantly.

Tenderloin in Smoked Paprika House Blend

Prep: 5 Mins.    Cook: 10 Mins. 

I had a the most prized and expensive piece of meat on the whole 186 lb. hog and, I wanted to give it some flavor. So, I rolled it in the same spice mix only lighter. And I’ll freeze it for later or better yet, give it to a friend, it’s about one pound perfect for dinner, and easy to cook, just don’t go over 140 f, and destined to be delicious, the perfect gift. This is what I did with 10 lbs. of pork, what would you all do?


One thought on “Pig Cookery, or… How We Cooked 10 lbs. of Pork Last Night in Less Than an Hour.

  1. Thanks for organizing the butchery class! I’m looking forward to cooking up the tenderloin this evening. I’ll let you know how it goes. For the rest of my pork: I froze the hock, am brining the roast and chops, and am curing the belly fat using a rub of salt, sugar, and black lava sea salt from Hawaii. Maybe some ginger. Nom!

    Liked by 1 person

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