Thursday, 30 January 2014

Pork Preseves

Well it’s snowing outside so a perfect excuse to down tools for a while and write the next post. This one’s about putting longevity into your meat. There are several ways of doing this and we’ve had a go at lots this year. So, in order of success.
Wet cure – A wet cure is simply putting your meat into to a brine solution for an allotted time and then hanging for a week or so. You can add all sorts of weird and wonderful things to your cure from beer to coke. It’s the first time we’ve done this so I kept things simple. Just salt and water. All was going well until it got warm and damp here weather wise and the temperature in our normally freezing cold storage room shot into the early teens and we lost just over half our wet cure meat. For the most part not too bad but the biggest blow was the two hams. Any that wasn’t too gone off was rapidly boiled up for the dogs so they were quite happy about it!
The brine bucket

Curing nicely

Profiting from disaster

“Canned goods” – By this I mean the things we cooked up and put into parfait jars. This year we made: Rillettes, which is a bit like a coarse pate, the meat is salted, shredded then cooked in its own fat. Rillons, like the rillettes but using belly meat and it’s kept in chunks and cooked in wine first, very nice. Finally confit, which really is just chunks of pork, salted over night then cooked in lard and it’s delicious!

Stored rillons.Yum yum!

Rillettes cooking away.

Nicer than Intermarche!

Saucissons – These are air dried sausages. Essentially you make a salty sausage mix and hang to dry until they go hard. The flavour improves with time so the longer you can resist temptation the better. We made two types, a plain one and a sort of chorizo flavoured one with lots of garlic and paprika. Both are very good and are a real success this year.


Hanging out.
Dry Cure – Easiest to do and our most successful. Simply rub salt into the meat each and drain off any liquid that comes off. In the case of the hams I set up a box with holes in it to allow the liquid to drain and covered the meat in salt. Again you can add things to your salt mixture to add flavour. I did some bellies adding in sugar, pepper, bay leaves and juniper berries to make a sort of pancetta. We also had a go at lonza and coppa which are entire muscles kept whole and given the salt treatment.
Bellies getting a salt rub. You pay good money for that at a spa.

Ham going into a salt storage

Next time there will be more dry curing and “canning” as these were by far and away the most successful methods. We did also fill one and a half freezers and cook a whole shoulder a couple of days after butchery, which was slowly consumed over about a week in a variety of leftover pork dishes! Starts all over again this spring as the hunt now begins for two more piglets for chez Powell. Oink oink.


Saturday, 18 January 2014

All brawn and (this time) no brains!

Despite a promise that I would knock these pig related posts out quickly I haven’t done so. “Why?” I hear you cry in despair. “We want to see more meat processing. We want to be aware of where our food comes from.” The weather is pretty much the reason. It has been unseasonably warm here in the Correze. This has meant more work outside,  both here and job wise. I was picturing months on end stuck indoors with snow mounting up outside. This has not been the case.

So on with piggy processing. Day 2 was butchery and some offal processing. As far as butchery was concerned I did lots of you tube watching and came up with a plan for how to carve them up. Lots of joints for roasting, lots of mince for sausages and sausisson, head and feet for brawn and a whole range of odd and sods for curing and cooking.

Rolled belly.

Chops, loin roast and a bit of bacon

Offal wise. Liver went in pate using Ray’s Liver Pate recipe from River Cottage Meat. Hearts are being saved for a favourite of ours, devilled hearts on toast.


 The left over liver went in with kidneys to make a sort of haggis/faggot concoction which we can’t decide whether or not it’s a haggisy faggot or a faggoty haggis!

Wrapping a big "Haggot" in caul fat

Finished little ones

Finished big one.

Look at all that meat. Scandal that this is often thrown away
The much under used heads (Minus the cheeks which were removed and brined to make Bath chaps) went into a pot with a couple of trotters to be picked over and pressed into the resulting gelatinous stock to make brawn. This is a sort of pate/terrine, very popular over here but all but forgotten in Britain. Probably because we don’t like to be reminded that our meat was once an animal with a head. Quite happy to eat it all mashed up in a cheap supermarket/fast food burger though!

Hello there!

The finished Brawn.