Friday, August 2, 2013

Pork Extras!

All those parts of the pig that aren't typically found in your grocers meat case anymore.  Whatever should you do with them?  We have some of them in abundance and would love to share some of the things we have done or have been told about (with some basic research on our part to verify those things of course!)

Pork Bones

The neck bones, because they have already been cut in half, add a wonderful gelatinous factor when making things like baked beans, gravy, and spaghetti sauce.  (I hate having my sauce run all over the plate!)  I've also seen recipes that will roast or bake the neck bones much like one would for a rack of ribs and to serve it with cabbage (roasted or perhaps with our Colcannon Recipe?).  You could also make pork stock.  Not to be too simple or anything.

Other bones may be used to make stock as well but if pork stock isn't your thing, perhaps you have a dog or a friend with a dog who would love to have those bones!

This page has great info on feeding your dog bones in general and the best way to do it for the health and safety of your dog i.e. RAW ONLY.  Do NOT give your dog any bones that have been cooked.  It changes the way that a bone breaks (splinters!).  Watch your dog with this new food for them to make sure they don't try and do something silly like swallow it whole or in ridiculously large hunks.

Pork Fat and Leaf Lard

We get the extra fat trimmings and leaf lard back from the processor in it's natural state, neatly packaged of course.  Using fats from animals on a more natural diet has all sorts of benefits.  One of the biggest differences is in the ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3 Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA).

This site has a wonderful and in-depth explanation and some comparisons with other fats and oils as well.

Long story short, Lard is good for you.  Not to mention the pie crusts made with lard are so flaky that they might as well float away.  Lard is a healthy and natural food that we should be consuming again.  The ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids is much more appropriate from a pastured pig than from a confinement hog, especially when they are eating more roots and greens.  Our pigs aren't quite there yet but there is a noticeable difference in their lard because they do eat some grasses and roots and the quality of their grain feed is much higher than the corn and soy diets fed in confinement operations.

How to Render Lard

The above website is another blog but the one that I followed the first time I rendered some of our own lard.  It works and she has some beautiful photos illustrating the instructions.  And you can put the initial cracklins back in to render a little more and then have a super yummy snack!  I hear that cornbread with cracklins baked inside is amazing as well!

You can render the backfat as well. (point also mentioned in the above link).  However you will want to reserve it for cooking when you don't mind or want a bit of a porky flavor.  When we cook our bacon, I save the fat from the pan to grease the pan just before I do eggs or in other ways where I'd like a bacon-y flavor as well.

There are many ways humans have found to utilize 100% of an animal besides those oh-so-wonderful loin roasts or pork chops or bacon.  Part of the reason is practical.  Humans need the nutrients that come from some of those parts.  Also, one does not have to dispose of much of an animal when one finds ways to consume all of it.  Another part of the reason for utilizing the whole animal can be spiritual in a way.  The pig spent the time creating all those things, why waste what Mother Nature has provided?