Isn’t it great when not only the people taking part in the weekend pig keeping course but also Carole and myself learn more about the butchering of a whole pig?

Airey’s butchers and slaughterhouse hosted the Sunday afternoon activities with a demonstration of pig carcass cutting by Martin Airey of Carole’s Lop pig. This was a dramatic demonstration to just how much pork there is in a pig that weighed 110 kilo live and 87 kilo dead weight.

What struck me most was just how much potential meat is wasted in the conventional butchering of a pigs carcass.

The entire head, liver, four legs below the hock and a variety of bones usually go to the skip along with the trimmed off fat. I was very surprised at the amount of meat on the four legs I took home and slow roasted in the oven for 8 hours, the shin meat just fell off the bone and was incredibly tasty (enough meat to feed a family off four).

 Also what surprised me was the amount of meat on the pig’s cheek, which was very easily removed from the head by Martin. There is equally as much meat on the cheek as on the rib of the pig and is apparently absolutely delicious when cured with a bacon cure. (Carole’s partner Mark cured the cheeks and we already ate the bacon) All these bits, which are not normally included unless asked for, will amount to a good three or four kilos of saleable pork.

The whole emphasis of the Butchery course was to ensure that the pig is used to its optimum. Stress was laid on the fact that the butcher cutting the carcass must receive comprehensive written instructions as the every aspect of cutting and packaging your pig. How can you ensure you know what you need or want without fully discussing your expectations with the butcher before hand?

 Everyone went home very happy with comments like; “thanks for a great weekend I have learnt so much”; “your folder which you gave us is filled with so much good stuff”; “Mmm, yes perhaps I need a larger freezer before I kill my pig”; and finally “How long do I roast the pigs ear for before I can give it to my dog?”.

So now even the pet dog is happy!


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