Tuesday, April 5, 2016

oink oink

Sow - mature, female pig
Gilt - immature, female pig
Boar - intact male pig
Barrow - castrated male pig
Boston butt - upper shoulder, moderately tough with good deal of connective tissue (the fatback is just above the butt)
Pork shoulder - or picnic shoulder
Pork loin - hogs are bred to have 17 ribs, the tenderloin is taken from the rear of the pork loin, baby-back ribs come from the upper ribcage area
Ham - back leg
Pork belly - also called pork side
Spareribs - from belly side of ribs where they join breastbone
Jowl - referred to as guanciale
Foot - high in collagen as good gelatin source
Part of the Suidae family, pigs were domesticated about 6000 years ago in China. Pigs are mainly fed corn (for energy) and soybeans (for protein and fat). It takes 3.5 pounds of feed to produce one pound on a pig. Iowa is the number one pork producer in the US. Pigs can outrun me with a seven-minute mile.

So the story begins when Jade found the meat science fundraiser. Learn how to butcher half a hog and take home the spoils. It was incredible. In a "when will you ever get to do this again?" "this is where my food comes from, sorta" "if you drop me down in the middle of the treacherous wild, I can fend for myself...provided you throw me an already slaughtered pig and a saw" kind of way.
I loved it. It was crazy to be able to back track just a little bit in the process of feeding myself and cut up my own meat. My freezer is stocked with enough pork for the rest of my time in Madison (thanks to not having much time to cook as of late and the boundless free food I've been finding all over the 'Cock). Sawing through bone is not as easy as they make it look. Gliding a knife in and around a carcass is an art. And nothing is more satisfying than making use of the entire animal.

First things first, the skin.
Thanks to Jade's dehydrator, we got homemade cracklings out of what was originally intended to be dog treats (Sandi would be all over that, by the way). Would you believe that translucent, glassy sheet of beige balloons into this puffy white curl that is somewhat reminiscent of rice cakes when dropped in hot oil? Text me, I've got a video.
Sprinkled with some five spice and eaten alongside pumpkin donuts and watercolors.

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