In the beginning, I always new that I wanted to raise my own food. A garden soon led to our egg laying hens, which led to some young feeder pigs from a friend's homestead. They were cute. There is no denying that we practiced extremely, extraordinary animal husbandry. When our pigs leaned in for a rump scratch, we obliged them. When the temperatures dropped, we made them a deluxe straw-bale bed. We fed them organic produce scraps from the Co-op and chased them around the pasture. It was over the top, but our pigs grew up into beautiful specimens. I have discovered that beautiful specimens taste delicious. It was worth doing 'pig' chores in the rain, the fog, and now the bitter cold. I feel tremendous joy that we did this. We did it! From pasture to pork chop, there were many lessons learned and many skills gained.
I was introduced to 'The anatomy of Thrift', a you tube series based on the art of butchery. You can watch the series on side butchery, which I shared on my last post. The videos were a life saver, and we need to hug all of the folks involved in putting together that very helpful tutorial on butchery. There are no butcher shops in Grand Marais. You are on your own when it comes to processing your animals, so inevitably we have become self- sustaining homesteaders. I just high- fived myself!
To carry on with homesteading traditions, I rendered my own lard; being careful to render the fat back separate from the treasured leaf lard. The leaf lard is the fat found along the inside of the loin and surrounds the organs. It is the highest grade of fat because it has the least amount of 'porky' flavor. It is ideal for pastries, so you pastry chef pals will be getting a jar! After rendering I was left with pork cracklings, which we overdosed on immediately. They are like pork croutons! So great on salads or to float in a bowl of creamy tomato soup. I'll share a wheat-free buttermilk biscuit recipe using a lard and butter blend in the future.
the rendered lard with pre-broken down loins
The bacon is being cured thanks to an article from 'The Splendid Table', which you can check out at splendidtable.org/recipes/curing-your-own-bacon. I was nervous about handling my own bacon, but this recipe talks you through it. After reading you will probably be tempted to go out and buy your own side of pork belly, and cure your own bacon. Rock on! In the recipe, the cure is easy and there are smoking variations using your patio grill and/ or your oven. Salt, sugar, and smoke. I got this! The hams will have a soak in a brine and then have a smoke and roast later. Hooray for salty, smokey pork!
the pork belly before I removed the spare ribs
doesn't everyone stick recipes on the cupboard doors?
All in all, it was a successful weekend. Successful that we are harvesting healthy, home-grown food. Successful that we can be self- sustaining. And successful that we are teaching and preserving this old school way of living to future generations. My daughter was fascinated by the different cuts of pork laid out on our dinning room table. She wanted to know where each of the cuts came from. She was literally tickled when I showed her where pork belly is found. I think she will be a future bacon enthusiast. In the end we lived more and learned more. We are thankful to everyone! Thanks you family! Thank you friends! Thank you pigs!