When we butchered our half-pig, we planned to do some preservation. Since the internet terrified me into not attempting a cured ham at this time of year (too hot! and the words “Bone Rot”), we brined it instead.
Of course, one should never leave the meaty part out of the brine, and we weighed the ham down with glass jars and left it in the coolest part of the house for a few days.
Several days later, we hauled it out, coated it in a mix of brown sugar, mustard powder, and diluted jam, and cooked it.
Is this the Meat Of Our Doom? Our handling of the meat was careful, but not exactly foodsafe, and I’m sure that leaving meat in salty water for a few days is not Recommended Practice for germophobic sorts.
I’d feel a little more comfortable if we were doing this in the late fall, with our own pig. All my Italian ancestors rejoice in the preservation of meat, however, and this delicious ham feels wonderfully completing in my belly.
We ordered half a pig, and had the option to have it come to us completely un-cut-up. Since Jeremy had, most astutely, taken a course on butchery from Farmstead Meatsmith, we thought we could take this project on.
Over the next eight hours, we butchered this lovely pig. Parts went into a seasoned salt mix for bacon, and the ham went into a tub of brine. We ate the pork chops the next evening, and they were roundly declared the best, juiciest, most tender pork chops in the entire history of food. We borrowed a meat grinder and sausage stuffer (thanks, Streetbank!), and made sausages the next day.
Making sausages did not at all enable the proliferation of jokes about anatomy, because as adults we are past all that adolescent nonsense.
Home butchery filled our freezer without completely draining our pocketbook, and the work felt good and soul-nourishing. We will definitely do this again.
(though next time, we’ll make sure to have a smoker, and even perhaps one of our own pigs.)