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Jan 19, 2007 02:48 AM

100 pounds of pork - How should I get it butchered?

I'm getting a side of organic pork from a local farmer next week. I can get the pig butchered to my specifications. There are a few things that I know that I want, but I'm slightly ignorant about what cuts come from what part of the pig.

This is what I know I want from this pig:

I want bacon and ham (Butcher does the smoking) - maybe smoked hocks and jowls as well

I want to make sausages myself eventually, but I may get him to grind the meat for me. My old hand grinder is great for small batches, but this meat will be a new experience! What part of the animal would be best for sausage? I've used pork butt in the past, but I also want to learn how to Barbecue this year, so I think I should save the butt for smoking.

I want the casings for sausages and the leaf lard for baking. Apart from chops, tenderloin and ribs, what should I do with the rest of it? What obvious cuts am I missing?

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  1. I think I would get your options from the Butcher shop, after the kill and dividing cut. A lot can happen here as there is the possibility of carcass bruising. With the possibility of having to be flexable you are rather at the mercy of the butcher what can be done at that point .

    Back some years ago, I was in the process of butchering 1/2 a hog. I had the standard expectations of smoked ham and bacon and packaging the regular cuts with the oddball pieces ground into their seasoned blend of sausage.

    Well, In the process a boar got on the loose and crippled my hog moments before the kill. There is no turning back once they have critter so I had them do the best they could. "Best is to expect about 60 pounds of sausage.", They inform me.

    Having a custom slaughter done, it was customary for a 10 percent discount in their retail store. The owner went ahead and gave me a rather nice ham. I also picked up 20 pounds of bacon at a grinning price.


    1. The only part of the pig to use for sausage is the butt.
      I've been wet curing a ham leg (from the hip to the shin bone) for 9 days now and will pull it tomorrow and then smoke it for 7 hours for the best ham I ever tasted. It weighed 21 lbs before trimming and curing. The fat I trimmed, I boiled it and passed the broth through cheesecloth giving me about 3 lbs of the best lard I ever saw.
      Good luck

      1. We get whole hogs from our local farmer/butcher and each time is a learning experience. With the last animal, we asked for one whole butt (for smoking) and the other butt to be cut into country ribs. We didn't want large roasts so the entire loin was cut into chops. We asked for half the belly to be smoked into bacon, the other half to be kept whole. We had the hams cut in half so we had 4 very large pieces. The picnics (forelegs) were cut into chops, I think - memory isn't clear here. We got all the fatback and leaf lard. Everything else was ground - this came to about 10 - 15 lbs of ground pork I think.

        I cured two of the half-hams and smoked them, and cured the other two and left them unsmoked. This was my first time curing ham which I'll certainly do again. I would ask for at least one leg to be kept whole next time even though it's a huge and awkward piece to work with. Next time I will ask for the picnics to be kept whole. These are wonderful smoked fresh with a good spicy rub.

        I would ask for more of the belly pork to be fresh. The bacon is wonderful - this butcher is known for great smoking - but I can use fresh belly in so many ways I ran out while I still have at least 10 lbs of bacon in the freezer.

        I would get at least 1 or 2 largish loin roasts, perhaps a big crown roast instead of having everything cut into chops. The chops are fine but you get a LOT of them. We ended up buying loin roasts for dinner parties because they're more festive. I think I would get two whole butts rather than have one cut up. If need be, DH can cut the meat into chops but I like the freedom of having the large pieces for smoking or other kinds of cooking.

        You get a lot of fatback which you can render down for cooking. I think I got around 6-8 lbs. Leaf lard is much less, probably about 2-3 lbs rendered. I cook with the fatback which has a distinct porky flavor and is great for stir-fries. I use leaf lard for pastry.

        The ground pork can be turned into sausage very easily. Our butcher offers the option of sausage or ground pork but I use ground pork more often so I asked for this. Next time I will ask for the cheeks to be kept whole so I can make guanciale. I think all the meat from the head goes into the ground pork if you don't ask for cuts (most people don't).

        We also have the liver, kidneys, heart and trotters. I plan to turn the liver into liver sausage, and cook the kidneys and trotters Chinese style (separately, not together). Not sure about the heart, I may grind this up. It's the one piece of the pig I've never cooked.

        Your butcher may have other suggestions for how to use the meat and which cuts to get.

        1. We just got half of a 250 pound pig - or about 90 pounds. This was our first time and the butcher was very helpful. We weren't sure what to ask for and I'd do it a little differently next time. As cheryl_h says it is a learning experience.

          We had the ham smoked by the butcher and cut in half which was great - each half is more than 10#. We asked for bone-in loin roasts. I think bone-in roasts have better flavor. Next time I would ask for the loin roasts cut smaller. We got three 6 to 7 pound roasts which are just huge for a family of 3. We've been doing a lot of entertaining - a good thing.

          The shoulder was cut into 2 big hunks (about 6# each), one of which I slow cooked for 8 hours at 200. Fantastic! The other we will make into smoked pulled pork this summer. So you could do sausage and BBQ with it. But we also ended up with about 8 pounds of scraps which we had ground and will turn into sausage.

          We had them leave the side, which we will turn into bacon and pancetta. Got some ribs, can't remember how many. About 8 pounds of various fat which I rendered into 3 1/2 pts of lard. My Oaxacan brother-in-law was ecstatic and spent hours describing grades of lard and how this was the best.

          1. Make sure you ask for some fresh belly. Pancetta and bacon are easy and fun to make at home.

            You are unlikely to get casings--- they are difficult and time consuming to process. Commercial casings are a much, much cheaper option and likely to be cleaner.

            Pig liver is excellent in terrines but it shouldn't be frozen.

            As others have stated, there are lots of chops. Personally chops interest me much more than a crown roast or ribs so we keep ours intact. However, we don't allow any of the bone to cut off so we get a series of monster pork chops. There isn't a huge amount of meat on the part of the rib that is usually removed, but what there is is mighty tasty. It also makes a spectacular presentation. In fact, our friends are always hinting about them.

            We have also always traded the tenderloin for more chops because it is less interesting, even on a spectacular pig.

            Having the butcher grind your shoulder will allow you to freeze/make sausage at will. Personally, I think sausages frozen in casings are vastly inferior to frozen ground pork made into sausage and served.

            Finally, make sure you get a 5-10 pounds of some superior fatback. It will allow you to adjust the proportions of your sausage if it is ground to lean. You also integrate it into terrines, pastry, and game sausage latter.

            If you haven't cooked with organic pork you'll need to flexible while you learn. The zuni salting method is very helpful and I do like a quick brine if we have not. I actually like it for the opposite reason you use it on crummy pork.

            Oh-- and a fresh ham leg with a nice cure will be very nice as your next holiday meal.