Monday, October 05, 2009

Pig Day

Friends of us up the road have a smallholding,* and like most people who've bought themselves a bit of land and moved to the country, they've jumped right in and are trying hard to live the good life. They have chickens a-plenty, turkeys fattening up for Christmas, orphaned lambs now growing into sizeable sheep ready for the freezer. There are plans for cattle, maybe next year. Probably something manageable like the smallholder's favourite, the Dexter. And there are pigs.

Well, there were pigs. Four of them to be precise. But last Wednesday they made the trip to Tregaron, our nearest abattoir. Then on Friday they came back again, bereft of life, and missing the internal bits you don't really want.** Canny people that we are, The Horse Doctor and I had purchased a half share in one of the pigs - pork futures, as it were. So we went up on Saturday afternoon to help with the butchery and sausage making.

The butchery part was very interesting. I thought I might have been squeamish, but the lack of blood was reassuring. Our friends had been given an afternoon's tuition by a retired butcher, and had borrowed some of the more esoteric tools required by the trade. Everything else was make it up as you go along. We soon learned from our mistakes, and the last carcass took less than a quarter of the time of the first to be rendered down into joints for roasting, chunks for mincing, diced pork, belly for bacon and all manner of other goodies. I've opted for mostly cuts that can be diced and minced for making pies and sausages, although I have kept the hind leg to salt and dry cure like a Parma ham. Time (some six months or more of it) will tell whether I have wasted an entirely good piece of pig or made something wonderful. Expect a full report.

oooh, that looks rude

And so to sausages. I've made these before, in the dim and distant past. But back then I only had a piping bag and long nozzle to fill the skins with meaty goodness. Our friends had bought themselves a professional meat mincer and sausage filler, as well as stocking up on endless slippery natural skins and a variety of tasty-sounding spice mixes. 

the famous Cumberland ring

We soon had a production line going, churning out yard upon yard of pink sausagey goodness. It's a lot easier when you've got the right kit, but no less disturbing to watch.

not bad for a first attempt

I've never tried linking sausages together before. There was never time to leave them hanging when I made the last lot - they were cooked and eaten the same day. A little bit of experimentation yielded almost satisfactory results, but I'm going to have to practice a bit more. Fortunately the sausages we were making on Saturday were from the three and a half other pigs. There's still my own half to be done.

the fruits of an afternoon's hard labour

To wrap up the day, we slow-roasted a rack of spare ribs, and tried a couple of each variety of sausage, just to be sure they were up to scratch you see. I can confirm that the pig is good. Next stop, pie heaven.

* truth be told, it's the smallholding I wanted to buy a few years back, but which I couldn't afford even after stretching the finances until they would most certainly have broken. I would be jealous of the couple who bought it, were they not such nice people.
** which isn't much, when you get down to it.

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Anonymous norby said...

A friend's father made his own sausage once and after eating that I haven't been able to eat store bought sausage. It just isn't as good.

Enjoy your fresh pig!

October 06, 2009 2:56 am  

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