Cut the center cut in half, lengthwise.
And since we just can't get enough - here's more on the meat processing.We'll call this "OFG's Lame Tutorial On How To Cut Up The Center Cut Of Pork Without Ruining It Entirely." Also known as, "this is how we do it here but do it however you'd like."
You can see from here that the center cut - a side of pork without the shoulder or ham - is a darn big piece of meat. The goal is to get it into smaller more manageable chunks.
The first step it to cut it just about in half, length-wise. You really want to cut a straight line starting just under the tenderloin so that you get the biggest ribs. Use a meat saw like this Weston Butcher Saw with 16 Inch Stainless Steel Blade or just a good old hacksaw that you've cleaned really well and only use for butchering. One thing we learned was to go with a smaller saw. Sure they have a big one, but my pal Bourbon Red said he regretted getting it. The blade has too much flex in it. So go for the small one.
Once cut in half, the first thing you want to do is get the tenderloin out. That's the magic, baby...
At this point it gets a little tricky. Use your boning knife to remove the loin from the ribs. It takes a little practice but you'll get it. See the ribs on top? And the beautiful chops encased in lovely fat?
We cut those small fry ribs from the backbone and use them for snackable bites. Delish!
But the real goal is to get to the pork chops. This years chops weren't as big as last year's. So we sliced them extra thick. I'll talk more about the differences in pigz later but for now, with as lovely as these pigz turned out we weren't devastated by smaller pork chops at all.
And see all that beautiful fat? This is the prized back fat that southern folks know and love. You can see in this picture that it actually is in layers. Its easy to use these layer lines as guides to trim the backfat from the chops - leaving a good healthy layer, of course.
Next you'll need to tackle removing the ribs from the bacons. Make sure your boning knife is extra sharp. You want your ribs to have some meat on them, but don't rob from the bacon too much! I found it easiest to peel the ribs back and cut them loose, then peel again, and cut until they were released.
Then you get to the bacon....
so much lovely bacon... Lets just take a moment and observe the bacon. Can you even believe it?
And here is kinda what you end up with....this shows the pork center before I even worked on the loin side. From the top/left we've got the loin side, the ribs, the bacon, and then the weird bacon/belly pieces.
Isn't that amazing?
We took the hams and some of the bacons down to the butcher to be cured and smoked. Three fresh hams and two bacons weighed in at just over 90 pounds! The butcher even came round to see what was going on when his work crew was oogling the hams. I can't wait to get them back. Of course, we always end up butchering just as our deer hunting season ends so our butcher was swamped. We apologized for our bad planning and had a laugh about the whole thing.
Could we cure and smoke the hams and bacon here? Sure if we had to, but we really aren't set up for it. For one things, we don't have a fabulous smoking set up like my pal, the Gastronomic Gardener. Have you seen his custom smoke house? Wow! I need to get my act in gear and get something like that here.
I can smoke a few things at a time in our smoker but I'm really not really set up for full cuts just yet. I kept one of the bacons tho and then I have all those fabulous weird bacon ends and belly pieces to work on myself.
Remember that about half the cost of having a butcher cure and smoke your meats is in the cut and wrapping end of things. So we are getting only one of the hams cut-n-wrapped... the rest we are getting back whole as I can break them down myself like I did here.
Tuesday is another all meat all the time day - but I'll be working on grinding the weird cuts and strange pieces into ground meat. Easy peasy once I get my Kitchen Aid set up. Then we'll be just about done. I have one more cutting chore left tho... um.... its the ickiest part. I'm gonna need a cup of liquid courage to march out there. We'll see how it goes.
Happy Tuesday everyone! Are you learning that "yes you CAN" cut up a side of pork yourself?