First you raise a heritage breed pig breed such as Tamworth (which is now on the Slow Food Ark of Taste List by the way) or English Large Black. Be very good to it…let it roam outside on pasture eating fresh green grass and roots and grubs, let it make a mudwater bath to play in with it’s friends, give it lots of clean straw to roll about in. Don’t feed it any antibiotics, just crushed grains to supplement it’s grazing diet. Notice how happy it is, how it snorts with glee and barks like a dog and wants to walk with you in the field.
And while we are on the subject of swine satisfaction, we’d be pleased (and so would your pigs) if you would do as we do in caring for our happy hogs…I don’t care what your Grandfather said. We do not clip their teeth at birth, we do not use farrowing crates, we do not castrate the young males, we do not cruelly ring their noses, we have no need to inject them with iron shots as they are on the soil, so they get their iron naturally. I’ll write more on the subject of to castrate or not-to-castrate..our experience has shown with testing at various ages, there has been no boar taint whatsoever. I’ll let you know why, in a later scribble. I believe there are various factors, but the meat has all been exceptional…but I digress.
Wait 6 to 8 months until it is 260 pounds or so, or more if you want mega chops and roasts (we’ve even gone to 300).
Meanwhile raise up a heritage breed chicken such asa Jersey Giant (also on the Slow Food Ark of Taste List, as it happens). Ensure it’s contentment the same way…by providing a safe, clean environment and good natural food, a few feathered friends to scratch around with, and give it the freedom to cluck and peck about in the earth and through the fields. When it gets to be 5 or 6 months old it will give you a lovely brown tinted egg in the nest box you provide it with.
Then in a day or so it will give you another. So will it’s hen friends. What’s better than the brown tinted exterior is the deep yellowy orange colour of the yolk.The extra chlorophyll they ingest from being on grass all summer makes the yolk saturated in colour as well as taste. In winter I feed my flock a flake of top quality green alfalfa hay in addition to their grain ration and it keeps the yolks beautiful and…really yolk coloured!.
Locate a good abattoir. If you are selling your pork you MUST use one and have your pig government inspected to abide by food and safety health regulations. Find a reliable, trustworthy one who will process your cuts the way you like them and ensure it is your own product you are getting back. We have a great one, after a few not-so-great-ones. If the whole hog is for your personal use, you can butcher your own pig, that’s another story.
Meanwhile build a smokehouse, or better yet, get Dawson to build you one. He is really good at it. And ridiculously quick.
Our new smokehouse was built in a day by talented man of the earth Dawson Campbell. Built with all reclaimed lumber—(wooden planks from the old, now demolished Hastings Faux Feed Mill), four $2. oven racks from Jack (you don’t know Jack), and a discarded wood furnace.
THEN…after 2 refrigerated weeks sloshing about in a lovely brine bath of spices including salt, peppercorns, bay leaves, dried red pepper, mustard seed, homemade pickled beet juice, juniper berries, garlic, etc, we pulled out our pickled Tamworth x Large English Black pork bellies, hams, tenderloins and hocks and proceeded to smoke ‘em!
After a day and a half curing in applewood smoke, after running out every few hours to check the woodsmoke and turn and rotate the browning hunks, the pork bellies transformed into tawny lengths of naturally smoked, nitrate-free side bacon. The hams took on the same hue..all 17 of them. The odd one got too much heat and smoke in center stage “hot spots”, and received more blackening. We’ll have to tweak it for future smoking…pretty simple. Those ones are best with the exterior trimmed off..then the taste is just as exquisite.
All but the tenderloins… those, we did not smoke at all, but took from the brine and rolled in fine cornmeal and got out the frying pan to taste test our first EVER homemade all-natural truly Canadian peameal bacon. Next round we’ll grind our garden peas and make it with a truly original “pea“meal coating. Served up sizzling alongside freshly laid, free-ranging Heritage Jersey Giant chicken eggs, of course.
Next morning we drizzled Amanda and Dave Sharpe’s sublime maple syrup over one of the hams and baked it in the oven..the woodsy sugars crystallized into an amber caramelized coating, running with juicy crispy succulence.
Oh my. Words cannot express.
Serve it up with a few colourful sauteed heirloom tomato halves, like Cherokee Purple or Aunt Ruby’s Green. We are considering opening up a “farm finer diner” as we realize we’ll never be satisfied going out for breakfast again.
Hmmnn….the best you can hope for is an invitation to dinner or breakfast to experience this earthly succulence at our farmhouse kitchen table.
We will also happily come to taste test yours if you invite us over, and give you a free opinion on how it turned out.