Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Even MORE meat! All meat! All the time!

Monday is wasting away and here I am. Meat drunk. I love meat. I spent all day Monday doing the rest of the cutting. Of course I had my handy fry pan hot at all times so I ate my way thru the day. So I am meat drunk. I'm not even sorry.
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...
Then cut the loin part (the side with the backbone) in about thirds so its more manageable. At this point you could just package up those bone-in roasts and call it a day. But we like porkchops so we keep going.

Use the meat saw for just getting thru the bones, then use a handy chef's knife to cut the rest of the way thru the meat. Easy peasy!

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?

Then its just a matter of squaring up the bacons so you can ship them off to the butcher or start curing yourself. These pigz were so long in the body that we ended up with a ton of bacon and also some belly sections as well. I cut these odd shaped ones so they will be easy for me to cure and smoke myself.

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?


David said...

Bravo! Excellent how to. Interesting how ther swines differ in build. I bet those chops will be amazing, and I envy all that beautiful back fat. Oh build a smoke house = so worth the effort!

basicliving@backtobasicliving.com said...

Awesome! Your freezer must be smiling right now. And, being a southern gal, I have total hog fat envy. I actually buy fat from our local pig farmer and render quarts of lard in the crock pot each year. Wonderful stuff.

becky3086 said...

Now this was really good! I learned so much. Yes, I would love to have a smoker like David's! Thanks so much for posting this.

Mr. H. said...

What could possibly be better than home grown, self processed, meat...good job!

Big Onion said...

What's the last cutting task you have left? Now I'm curious!

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

Oh Wee! I'm drooling like mad over here..everything looks so good and yummy! What a nice harvest of meat, I'm wishing you had a foodsaver to vacuum the air out of those nice looking meats for the freezer. I'm finding they work better than the zip locks..that's if you don't eat that meat up real quick. :o) good job showing how to cut it up.. glad you gave up the office :o) farmgirl :o)

Sara said...

OH! Looking forward to seeing how the Kitchen Aid meat grinding goes. When we butcher meat, we do it outside and the meat is pretty solid, aka COLD! The guys claim it is easier and they get a more even cut of the meat using the saws. Love the pictures!

Tina - Our Rustic Roots said...

Wow, GG's smokehouse is nice!

I think you did a great job with the cutting.

OK, now I'm curious.....did you keep the head? Is that what you are trying to avoid?

Autumn said...

I observed some serious bacon action there!

Chai Chai said...

This looks completely normal....if you are one of the Flintstones!

What nice looking huge hunks of meat.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Thanks Dave, and really your smoke house is great!

Hey B2B... I figured you'd perk up over the backfat. The lard is simmering right now.

Thanks Becky - keep an eye on GG's site. He does all kinds of smoking projects - great stuff.

Hey Mr. H! Yep just delish.

Big Onion... hee hee hee I just posted it. ;-)

Hi Ginny, I'm glad I gave up the office too! I've been eying your vacuum packer.. we might just have to give it a try.

Yep, Sara, you are just right. You want the meat to be stiff so its easy to work with.. but frozen is too much. The Kitchen Aid works great. I think we paid $52 for the grinder attachment - best money spent.

Hee hee hee Tina, what to do with the headz.. oh yes.. next post please. hee hee hee

You said it Autumn! Its so pretty I just want to keep it on the counter so I can oogle it. ha!

Hey CC - it is pretty Flintstone-y.. for sure!

Veggie PAK said...

"Meat Drunk". That's hilarious!

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