Here it is — our whole pig, butchered, cut, wrapped, with the hams and bacons smoked. Chuck drove over to pick it up and he said it was a very festive atmosphere over there — a big refrigerated truck filled with orders.
We paid $290 for this pig, which means we’re looking at $1.75 a pound for a local 4-H fair pig. We were late to go look at the animals with the kids, so what we saw was pigs and lambs being loaded onto trucks. It’s a rural ranching community here — that’s what happens after the fair, you sell your animal for meat, and put the money in your college fund.
Opening the boxes was like Christmas — ooh look! pork chops! there are lots of pork chops, and a whole ham split into two halves, and a lot of breakfast sausage, and ground pork, and bacon, and ham hocks, and roasts — they cut some of the shoulder roasts into smaller steaks, which will be interesting to play with, and they sliced one whole ham into ham steaks that are about a half inch thick — they’ll be great for a quick dinner or an easy breakfast. The only bummer is that I ordered half the belly unsmoked as fresh side pork, but didn’t specify for them not to slice it like bacon. So now we have a lot of fresh sliced side pork that I can’t really make pancetta out of — it’ll be good for paté, or I can play around with cures — it was one of those cross-cultural miscommunications that happen sometimes. Now I know for next year.
It’s the beginning of fall here in Montana — the time of year when we all go peer into our freezers, seeing what needs to be eaten to make room for this year’s harvest. There are pigs and lambs and beef by the side or by the quarter, then the game starts coming in — elk and antelope and deer. Chuck doesn’t hunt, but he does let some of his friends hunt on his land, so he gets meat in exchange. It’s a funny time of year — not really cold enough to want to be eating big cuts of meat, but there we are. I made some Cinammon-Chile Short Ribs yesterday from this unbelievable beef that one of Chuck’s friends raises because well, we had a WHOLE PIG coming in, and room must be made in the freezer. I kept looking at him last night and saying “we have a WHOLE PIG in the freezer!” I’m the kind of person who stockpiles dried pasta when I start feeling financially wobbly, so you can only imagine how safe I feel with a WHOLE PIG in the freezer.