You know I have been on a local meat kick this summer. First, I purchased a split-half from Morris Grassfed Beef. Then, at the end of July, I bought a whole lamb from Sierra Farms Lamb. To complete the circle, I just bought half a pig from TLC Ranch, and this weekend, I participated in the butchery of our pig. The pig was slaughtered at Stagno’ Meats in Modesto, and then dropped off with Loren Ozeki, the Rib King, in Soquel. I drove down Sunday and joined Loren in his industrial kitchen for the butchering of the pig (I did not name the pig, although I do love to name things. It just felt not appropriate!). Fortunately, my pig did not come with a tail, a head, nor any of the inside guts, just the carcass.
Loren talked about the 4 primals of the pig, basically the 4 main sections: Ham, Shoulder, Belly and Loin. From those, he broke the pig down into roasts, tenderloins, ribs, bone in butts, bacon and many other items. The half pig was about 73 pounds when we started, and I think I ended up taking home about 72.9 pounds. Loren is very conscious about reducing waste as he butchers.
I might need to clarify here – Loren did the butchering, I stood around and watched and asked questions. Intelligent ones, I hoped.
He was very interesting to talk too, although I never got around to asking him about all his tattoos. Loren has worked in kitchens, fancy kitchens, and now runs his own catering company, the Rib King, specializing in BBQ and you guessed it, ribs. As he butchered the pig, I was able to learn all sorts of things about the different cuts of meats and how to prepare them. We had a nice discussion about ham, and my nightmares memories of eating it as a kid. And we set aside a big slab of meat to smoke into bacon (nitrate-free). He also dabbles in sausage making, and I have 5 pounds of bratwurst coming my way.
Just for my future information, since I am sure I will lose the paper I made notes on, here are the details about the various cuts of meat from the pig and how to cook:
Ham Roast – brine 24 hours, roast with skin to internal temperature of 155F, then into a 450F oven to crisp the skin at the very end
Pork Belly – sear all over, braise and then crisp skin before serving
Pocket Roast – braise whole or cut up, like a pork shoulder
Top Roast – dry roast, crispy skin
Tenderloin – peel membrane before cooking
Sirloin – dry roast
Chops – pan fry or grill, remove skin and crisp up
Baby Back Ribs – remove membrane, grill or low and slow in the oven
Lard – in the pan with water, melt fat, drain through coffee filter in strainer, use for pies. Take remaining solids, into a cast iron pan at 250F in oven, until fat is brown and more lard has leached out. Use like bacon fat.
Spare Ribs – remove membrane, low and slow in oven with moisture, finish on grill
Boston Butt (boneless and bone-in) – braise and shred for pulled pork
Picnic Butt – braise and shred for pulled pork