I think it’s about time that we talk about eating some pork. All these pictures of cute little piglets has gotten us off track form the reality of this farm, which is that we raise these pigs for food, both for our own consumption and for the general public through the restaurants we sell to.
Last wednesday, amidst all the chaos of Ruby’s horrific farrowing, Dan and I corralled one of the medium size pigs from the group of six into the trailer and drove him down to the slaughter house in Everett. We were hoping to be able to sell this guy, but that didn’t end up working out, so he is now a farm use pig, and to good use he will be. He was about 240 pounds live weight, so we got approximately 160 pounds of usable meat, which is a very manageable amount for us here. We had the butchers break the pig down into hams, shoulders, bellies, jowls, hocks, leaf fat, back fat, and one loin cut into chops, the other kept whole. We also got a bag of offal, liver, kidneys, heart and tongue. The bellies will be cured for bacon, the jowls are curing already for guancialle, the hams have been broken down for sausage, into which we will add quite a bit of the back fat. The leaf fat, this is the fat that surrounds the kidneys and the other vital organs and is the best fat on the animal, will be rendered down for lard. We packed up the chops for eating and I deboned the other loin which will be cured with lots of paprika for a smoked Spanish style pork loin.
We wanted to try some of the pork fresh and right away, so we decided to do a low and slow pork shoulder. We used a weber grill for this process, with charcoal briquettes and loads of apple wood trimmings from all the pruning we did earlier in the season. We simply seasoned the shoulder with lots of black pepper and kosher salt. A small fire, about a third of the starter chimney filled with briquettes, was started and then placed on one side of the grill, a pan of water was positioned on the other and the shoulder placed over the water. We throttled down the air vents on the grill so that the charcoal burned very slowly and the apple wood would smoke and not catch fire. Every 90 minutes or so, we would start fresh coals separately, to burn off any started fluid, and add them to the grill along with more apple wood. You’re looking to keep the temp in there around 225, but it’s hard to do on a weber, so it takes some practice and intuition.
This process of keeping the ham in smoke at a low temperature went on for about 10 hours, the result of which was to die for. The meat was fall off the bone tender, sweet, salty and smokey. But not too smokey, as the apple wood gives off a very mellow smoke that doesn’t overpower the flavor of the meat, which is great because these pigs taste amazing! I mean, really really really good, some of the best I have ever tasted....
We enjoyed this tasty meat with cole-slaw, home made potato rolls and some home made BBQ sauce, a recipe for which is below.
Sebastiaan’s Caramelized Onion BBQ Sauce
2 Large onions, sliced paper thin
Half a stick of butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
5 cloves garlic, sliced thin
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups ketchup
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 heading Tbsp mustard powder
2 tsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp fish sauce (optional)
1 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne to taste
Slice the onions as thin as you can. In a heavy bottomed pan, (cast iron works great) melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat till just frothing and add all the onions. The idea with this BBQ sauce is to start it on a base of very well caramelized onions, so this step is very important, so take your time. Over the course of about 45 minutes, cook the onions till they are super caramelized, you will need to stir it often and scrape up bits from the bottom. They should be a deep dark brown and smell very nutty. Add the garlic and cook just till fragrant. Once this has been achieved, move all the onions to one side of the pan, leaving about half the bottom exposed. To this area, add your brown sugar. We want to make a bit of a caramel with the brown sugar, so let it cook with intermittent stirring till the sugar melts and darkens by a few shapes. Deglaze the pan with the water and stir well to release any tasty bits stuck on the bottom. Then add all the other ingredients and let the sauce slowly simmer for about 30 minutes to let the flavors meld together. If you like a chunky sauce, serve the way it is, but if you like a smooth sauce, blend the whole deal in a blender. Any leftovers, if any, can be kept in the fridge for a few days.