This Big Piggy

Were I not already married, “Would you like to split half a pig with me?” would be the pickup line that got my attention. As it was, the request came from my neighbor, who wanted to split a meat order from Houde Family Farm with me. She directed me to their CSA shares page, where this disclaimer caught my eye:

We also sell beef and pork by the half or whole when available. All prices are hanging weight and include cutting and wrapping. Hanging weight is the meat hanging on the rails at the butchers. There is some loss due to bone, fat and gristle; anywhere from 25 to 40 percent loss depending on how it is cut (bone-in or not) and how lean the animal is.

I could do without the gristle, but I wasn’t about to part with the bone and fat, especially if I was paying for it. And what about the head? A few emails and one phone call to David Houde convinced me that I’d get every bit of the half hog that I wanted, so I placed an order.

Today the hog arrived: butchered, vacuum-wrapped, and frozen.

There’s a lot of meat there: two 12-rib loin roasts, the shoulder and Boston butt roasts; spare ribs; the fresh ham (cut into nine thick steaks); about six pounds of ground pork made from the scraps and trim; the liver, heart, and tongue; three huge slabs of fatback; and more.

That’s half a head, and two legs – shanks with trotters attached. The belly is being brined and cured, then it will be smoked and cut into bacon to be delivered next month.

Since I was obviously gong to wind up with the head, shanks, fat, and offal, my neighbor got the majority of the ground pork and ham steaks, along with the larger of the shoulder cuts. This is much more meat than my last pig acquisition; I had to exercise master-level close-packing skills to fit everything into the Belm Utility Research KitchenDeep Storage Facility.

It’s a good thing the weather’s cooling down; I got me some cookin’ to do.

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