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Whole Hog for Xmas


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#1 zak@portlandbeer.org

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Posted 13 December 2008 - 08:08 AM

So, in the interest of bringing back some of the "Portland food-geek, get-back-to-the-land" mindset to the midwest, I'm entertaining the idea of purchasing a whole hog from our meat supplier for Christmas. My mother is horrified, but I think it'd be a fun project for my father and me.

We have a full kitchen, equipment, pretty decent knife skills, etc, and I think half the fun of this is that we'd be doing it for the first time. Sure we'll make a mess, but the point is not to waste anything. Let's learn how to cook with the trotters. Let's learn how to make something with the head. I think it'll be a better investment for us (and maybe some of our kitchen staff) than another newspaper ad that goes in the trash tomorrow.

My question: how many hours do I need to plan out to break this thing down into pieces? I know the grinding/sausage making/bacon curing/etc will take a while, but that's separate jobs for another day. I just want to know about how many hours to plan for the initial breakdown into primals and portions? The supplier suggested that he split the hog down the middle and remove the head for me, simply for ease of transport.

If I had my way, we'd start at the slaughterhouse, but time's getting tight and I want to have this for Christmas.

I know some of you have some experience in this. Let the knowledge flow....

#2 mrg

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Posted 14 December 2008 - 04:39 PM

I took a 230# pig (that had been split in half) apart in about an hour and a half. Just remember that you're trying not to cut the meat, you cut the seams - it kind of lets you know where to cut if you look. Do you have Ruhlman's book, Charcuterie? It's helpful for utilizing things. It's also nice to have a smoker that smokes at a fairly low temp. I still love my Big Chief electric - they go for around $85. I made ham hocks and bacon and smoked the jowls as well. I used a hack saw to get through some of the bones. It's a great project, Have fun!

#3 Joisey

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 11:09 AM

If you go on Ruhlman's blog http://ruhlman.typepad.com/ he has a post about this very thing. The Charcuterie book is a very good reference for what to do with the meat once it's broken down. Another great resource is the "Charcuterie" thread on egullet.com which I'm sure is epic at this point. That's a really cool idea, good luck and have fun!

#4 zak@portlandbeer.org

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 10:02 PM

Yeah, gone through Ruhlman's book a few times.

Got a low-temp smoker as well. Done jerky, etc on it. Bacon looks approachable. As do the hocks.

We ....kinda.... know how the pig all fits together. I think the point of the project is to really know.

#5 nomnom

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Posted 17 December 2008 - 04:29 PM

What an excellent idea!

#6 chefasaurus

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 10:22 AM

So, in the interest of bringing back some of the "Portland food-geek, get-back-to-the-land" mindset to the midwest, I'm entertaining the idea of purchasing a whole hog from our meat supplier for Christmas. My mother is horrified, but I think it'd be a fun project for my father and me.

We have a full kitchen, equipment, pretty decent knife skills, etc, and I think half the fun of this is that we'd be doing it for the first time. Sure we'll make a mess, but the point is not to waste anything. Let's learn how to cook with the trotters. Let's learn how to make something with the head. I think it'll be a better investment for us (and maybe some of our kitchen staff) than another newspaper ad that goes in the trash tomorrow.

My question: how many hours do I need to plan out to break this thing down into pieces? I know the grinding/sausage making/bacon curing/etc will take a while, but that's separate jobs for another day. I just want to know about how many hours to plan for the initial breakdown into primals and portions? The supplier suggested that he split the hog down the middle and remove the head for me, simply for ease of transport.

If I had my way, we'd start at the slaughterhouse, but time's getting tight and I want to have this for Christmas.

I know some of you have some experience in this. Let the knowledge flow....


I did a whole hog, but actually whole. One roasted complete pig. A plate at the restaurant included pieces from various parts of the piggy. A little belly, a little lean meat, some shoulder etc. The biggest thing was being sure to temper the hog before throwing that facker in the oven. There is cold penetrating that thing literally to the bone, so tempering ensures a nice even cooking.

We served ours in a Latin style with arroz con dules (yellow rice with pigeon peas) and some fried plantains. So the Wilbur got a nice rub of coarse salt with dried oregano, garlic, black pepper and bay leaf. Even after cooking the hog, we removed the jowls for guanciale and smoked em to completion. We also removed large pieces of the skin and rendered them further for chicharrones.

#7 zak@portlandbeer.org

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Posted 18 December 2008 - 11:55 AM

When I still worked at Laurelwood, we did a whole hog in the Caja China for the xmas party.

Peek under the lid....
Posted Image


Happy pig.
Posted Image



He came out tasty. But I'll save the pig roast for summer. This is a butchery project for me.