This morning I met Chet and Nicholas at a farm in Reading where we slaughtered six Hampshire pigs. It was intensely foggy as I drove to the farm; I really couldn’t see more than 15 or so feet ahead, and I did make one wrong turn, but still found the place in good time.
I was able to resist the candy-store appeal of all those whole heads and the plethora of trotters (only because freezer space is limited), but I did end up taking home 12 cheeks, 12 ears, 6 tails, 6 sweetbreads, 6 tongues, 6 livers, 6 hearts, 15 feet of flushed-out small intestine, and the real treasure: 6 portions of caul fat. Oh how the lacy caul fat and the promise of crepinettes and faggots makes me wriggle, even now at sleepless 2:30 am.
It was a nice flat place where we worked on the pigs, and the farm had a nice big tractor with which to haul the pigs around from cauldron to table to truck. There were some nice people there too, and I got to burble merrily about the joys of cooking the odd bits to a pretty receptive crew, relatively speaking. It was a mild day for this late in November, but it rained for the last hour or so and felt pretty miserable. Once again I was struck by how hard Chet and Nicholas work. I did only a bit of bristle-scraping, and spent most of the time harvesting the ears, cheeks, and small intestine.
I got home at half past noon, cleaned up, and spent the rest of the day, until 9 pm or so, processing all the bits. It was a lot of work! Now I have everything except for 4 cheeks, the sweetbreads, and the small intestines ready to take to the chest freezer in mom’s garage.
The 4 cheeks are in my freezer here so I can make them into a yummy dinner sometime this week. The intestines have been washed and flushed again to remove grit and hair, and are soaking in a bowl of very salty cold water. I expect they’ll be okay until tomorrow morning; I had to stop working and make dinner at 9 pm or so and I was beat.
The sweetbreads were cleaned, the fat which clung to them was rendered, and then I blanched them and drained them. When cool enough to handle, I put them on a plate, covered them with saran wrap, and put another heavily weighted plate on top. I’m trying to figure out if they can be frozen once they’ve compressed, or how long they can be refrigerated in this state. Otherwise I’ll just have to cook up a little sweetbread extravaganza; I’m planning on serving them simply sauteed with butter, lemon, and parsley.
Tonight’s dinner was oysters (the ocean kind, not the Rocky Mountain kind) done in Japanese `kaki fry’ style, with tonkatsu sauce and a simple undressed mound of thinly grated green cabbage, carrot, and scallions. Was nice.