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Jan 27, 2009 03:05 PM

I am buying a whole pig and need advice...

We are buying a whole hog (280 lbs.) to have butchered for this year's pork. This is my first experience with this... I have enough freezer space, but need advice on what to tell the butcher about cutting it. I don't want to just leave it in his/her hands; are there any special requests I should make, or great cuts that I don't want to miss out on...any help from more experienced chowhounds would be greatly appreciated. So far I know I want the head meat, I also want to try my hand at making different types of sausages...what I don't want is piles and piles of chops. Thanks in advance...

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  1. Leaf lard (I think it comes from back fat.)

    There is also the porterhouse, which is unusual (at least, I never see it in the supermarket cuts.)

    9 Replies
    1. re: jaykayen

      The leaf lard sounds great, I'll make sure to ask about that...thanks

      1. re: jaykayen

        fat back AND leaf lard are both great.

        fatback makes a more flavorful lard - great for tamales, tortillas, and other savory lard applications. Leaflard is from the area around the kidneys (if I remember properly), it is very "pure" and milder in flavor. It is preferred for baking.

        1. re: lisa13

          Ooops, you're absolutely right that leaf lard is from around the kidneys. My bad!

          There is also caul fat.

          1. re: lisa13

            I know I want the fat back, but what exactly am I going to be getting...Is it like salt pork or something I will have to render to get you can tell this is a new experience for me:-)

            1. re: snix

              You will have to render leaf lard yourself, probably.

              1. re: snix

                Salt pork is a generic term, but what is sold as salt pork in supermarkets is indeed fat back. You can render it for lard, but it is said to be excellent for sausage making (never been able to find it locally, so I can't say from experience). Go for it.

                1. re: Zeldog

                  isn't salt-pork *cured* fatback ? If so, this is really quite different from fresh fatback, and I don't think it would make good lard at all.

                  fresh fat back usually comes with the skin on. You cut it into cubes, and cook gently to render the fat (search the boards for methods to render lard - it's pretty well covered). If you leave the skin on, you end up with a slightly stronger porky flavor, and the skin turns into "cracklins" (ie, pork rinds).

            2. re: jaykayen

              I've never heard of pigs having leaf lard. I believe that is beef and veal only. The highest quality fat is the back fat. They'll probably leave it in slabs.

              Decide if you want the skin left on for the leg for instance. The surface will be shaved but you'll still see some hair and hair marks. Bit of a surprise the first time.

              We like to live the rib intact on each chop. It makes for flinstone appearance and makes a chop a party. They are delicous.

              1. re: JudiAU

                By definition, lard comes from pork. Fat rendered from beef is tallow.

                Leaf lard is rendered from the fat around the kidneys and on the inside of the loin. It's more neutral in flavor and has a higher melting point than lard rendered from fatback.

                Just rendered a pint or so of belly lard today. We're having folks over for Mexican food on Saturday, and I like the extra-porky flavor for making flour tortillas. Only problem is that the dogs are losing their minds over the cracklings on the counter...

            3. wow! that is so cool. i would think maybe to have a really good diagrahm of the specific cuts, to really know what you want as basics but hopefully if you have a great butcher that could help you with the finer points. sound like fun!!!

              1. The first thing to realize is that you'll loose anywhere from a third to a half of the weight in cutting loss, so will end up with less meat than you may be expecting. The link below may give you more info to help you decide what you want to do. Enjoy your pork! :-)


                1 Reply
                1. re: OldDog

                  Thanks for the information, the website helped out alot... I can't wait to pick up the meat.

                2. In my experience, too many chops is never a problem. We always end up with way too much bacon and sausage.

                  You'll want to think how thick you want your chops and bacon etc. and how many you want him/her to put bundle together. Two chops at a time? Four? etc.

                  Have fun!


                  1. It's been some years since I've bought a whole pig.

                    I liked loin roast and tenderloin from one side and 1 1/2" boneless chops are great form stuffing.