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.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Grinding Day

We're sloggin' thru the Meat-a-palooza 2011....Day Four grinds on...

Actually Tuesday really was grinding day. We lost our cold weather so we had to hop-to and get everything out of the meat locker, aka the garage. Even tho it got warmer today it was still below 40* in the garage. But we weren't taking any chances so we got everything packaged up or put in the coldest fridge we have.

As a I was trimming the meat I put the extra or weird pieces into two piles - either "to be ground" or "to be cut up for stew meat."  The "stew meat," which is really for stir fry and the like, was the odd ends that were a little better quality - more meaty and tender. The "to be ground" pile was the tougher cuts and anything that was more marbled and fatty. We'll use this ground meat for making "taco meat," burgers, sausage, and as a base for our bolognese sauce.

The ground meat was put into 1 pound portions and stuffed into appropriately marked freezer bags. The "stew meat" was cut up into 1 inch chunks and also portioned out.

And then. The lard. I took Big Onion's challenge (just kiddin!) from his comments the other day and decided I would not be foiled by melty fat. So I marched out to the meat locker.. I mean...the garage and got my almost full 5 gallon bucket of cut up fat and prepared for glory.

Normally we just cut the fat into small pieces and then render it. We tried to grind it one year and it didn't work at all. But guess what? It worked! Well... the grinding part worked. I'm still working on cooking it down. We'll see how it turns out tomorrow. Thanks Big Onion for the tip (see comments) to get me to reconsider grinding fat for rendering lard!

Speaking of the Big Onion....he asked about the last "cutting chore" and did I do it? Well. I did it. It took some chest beating, some dancing around the fire, and me and The Big Man punching each other in the arm and "double dog daring" each other to get out there. We finally marched out there to make the final cuts for.... "guanciale" as my pal the Gastronomic Gardener calls it. But around here we just call it hog jowl. That's right. I cut off the pigz faces. Actually just the cheeks.

We intentionally didn't take any happy snaps of this big event so there is no pictorial evidence.. I mean.. step by step guide. Mostly because we were laughing so hard at the stupid jokes. So many jokes. After a small oogly-boogly moment it was over. We had the jowls and then bagged up Smiley and Head Cheese for the garbage guys. Dang, the garbage guys hate coming to our house. Its like no one but us puts badly butchered pig heads out for them to collect.

Speaking of pigz heads...so a couple answers to questions that I know you are all asking yourselves.

1. Do we make head cheese? Nope.
2. Aside from the jowls do we use anything else from the heads?  Nope.
3. Did we ever find the missing pig heads from last year? I ain't sayin'.

That's the report for today on this Week of Meat. I'll be working on rendering lard, making pate, and starting to cure all the bacon odds and ends tomorrow. And making sure the garbage guys actually take the pig heads. And other stuff. Oh geez, I might as well just start making a huge burn pile just in case they don't take any of it. Cowards.

Happy Wednesday everyone!


Jody said...

Such barbarians! I love it. We have the same grinder. We used of for venison and chicken sausage this week. We've never thought of grinding fat. We have a couple pounds of beef fat left over from stock. Is there a special way to turn that into lard?

Jody said...

Thanks for the quick reply to our blog. I'm so glad we saved all that fat. Tallow, huh? Who knew? We will making french fries for sure! The boys will be given lots of luvins to mamma for that treat! Thanks again.

Big Onion said...


Dude, that's the absolute best part.

I've been making pancetta for years out of pork belly and have been wanting to make some out of the jowl. Apparently it's the best for rendering down for carbonara.

If you have some curing salts, I can send you my recipe for pancetta. You can do it all in your regular fridge, and it takes just a few weeks. So worth it.

(For an extra giggle, my word verification for this reply is "cheaken". Ha!)

Big Onion said...

Also, I'm a little sad you tossed the head. You could've made scrapple, or just oven roasted the whole thing and picked off pieces of meat.

Then again, I've never raised a hog and had to look at its face after being slaughtered, so ... it's possible I'd do the same when that time comes, too.

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

Throwing away the Pigz head! such a thought:o( You smoke them like you would the bacon...they are delicious for seasoning with black eyed peas for the new year...especially I love the snout :o)...Go get them before the garbage man gets there...

becky3086 said...

You can turn the beef fat into tallow I believe.

Sara said...

That attachment looks right handy! I'll have to consider it for mine. Great post. I don't even want to know why you were cutting pig jowls. lol

Team HighTail said...

Oh man, face meat is my FAVORITE part of the piggie.

lorihadams said...

I love it!!!! I'm so happy you posted this...I just posted a how to series on how to butcher a deer over on NHH...you know (the OTHER forum). It got rave reviews and I am so happy to see the pork pics again this year! We just did our first batch of rabbits and more meat chickens so it has been a meat-a-pa-looza here too. Miss you darlin'! Keep up the good work and kiss the dogs for me!


David said...

nice grinder but a PITA for doing stuffed sausages. How many lbs of ground you think you'll get?

rkbsnana said...

I'm wondering why everything looked clean and neat. It didn't look like you slaughtered a hog.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

No problem, Jody! For everyone else... the answer is that you an render tallow (beef fat) the same way. Easy peasy. ps I love the thought of being a barbarian.

Big Onion - send send!!! I'd love to have it. How hilarious about cheaken.. hee hee and dont worry - it was sentimentality. Those were just some ugly pigz.

I think those garbage guys got 'em, Ginny. Maybe next year ;-)

Yep, Becky, "lard" is for pork and "tallow" is beef.

Sara, the jowls are superduper good. Like bacon only ... better.

THT - and there are so many jokes to be had.. face meat.. hee hee hee

Thanks Lori! I saw your deer post - great work!

Hey Dave, yep we'd need some kind of casing attachment. But we just really like bulk stuff. :-)

Moon-Shadows said...

Jowl bacon is awesome. Also you can steam the pig head, pick the meat off and make authentic tamales!!!! Yum :)

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