Then recently a Twitter pal Helena Fitzgerald tipped me off that there was a pig butchery course coming up by Stephen Lamb from River Cottage. I just had to go back to see the completed project and I also wanted to get some ideas for what to do with my own pork.
So yesterday I headed off south early in the morning. The day was spent running through the finer points of butchering a side of pork. What struck me is there is not a great deal to it provided you have the right equipment and the space. A side of a pig takes up a whole lot of counter top.
Stephen began the day making a statement that his two favourite ingredients were fat and salt. A brave man but he needn't have worried, he was preaching to the converted.
Rodney, the resident chef in the School of Food then came in with the other leg which had been boned out and soaked in a brine solution overnight before gently simmering for hours. A participant asked him the exact cooking time. His reply "I'm a chef, I don't measure or weigh". I love that. A man after my own heart. You just know when something is cooked. He was then going to roast it in cider, slathered in mustard, honey and brown sugar which he was going to reduce and use as a glaze. It was going to be our lunch. Lots of mouths were already watering.
Then we isolated and gently pulled out the tenderloin or the fillet. He said newbies like myself may not notice that their butcher can easily whip this out and return your pork to you minus it. I actually have had this happen.
|Gently guiding the knife to remove the tender loin|
|No brute force needed just a bit of a hand holding the head|
|There is a lot of meat on the head|
|Removing the scapula in the shoulder|
|A heavy duty mincer makes light work of the load|
|I got a go at using the sausage stuffer|
I had a go at using the sausage stuffer and trying to link the sausages.
After this we broke for lunch. Two big tables laid out with the by now glazed and sliced ham and brawn. Loads of very appetising salads and some bread rolls made by the school baker.
After lunch we were back to the mincer to make a coarse pork liver pate. We got to taste it at the end but I have to admit I'm not a fan of pork liver and this was particularly strong. I would be tempted to have a go with my own pig's liver though as when they are fed organically, it's not as strong.
|Mincing the liver to add to the pork and bacon for pate|
|Curing pork belly|
Then he talked us through making a leg of your own Parma or Serrano ham. This I will definitely try and I have ear marked my wood shed to hang it in it's muslin sack.
All in all a fantastic day out. I learned loads of little things I didn't know and got to meet some lovely people some of whom are planning to start keeping pigs and will visit mine here.
You have to hand it to Kilkenny. Great vision and foresight to think of turning a disused boys' primary school into such a great facility.
Go and visit.