Using pig organs & other unusual bits

This is the third year we’ve raised and butchered our own pork, and each year we try a few more ways to use every bit of the animal. This year, especially, we were able to experiment with some really interesting dishes using fresh blood, organ meats, and more, which we’ll describe here for others intrigued by traditional and interesting uses of pig parts. Many of these we prepared and served in one night’s meal shortly after butchering (in December), joined by an adventurous friend we were sure would want to explore some of these dishes. Thanks for helping out, Nick!

BLOOD SAUSAGE

pigbits_1

We’ve been both intrigued and put off by the concept of blood sausage, and this year got a clean enough blood flow from the freshly-killed animal to take a stab at it. We followed the Boudin Noir recipe from Charcuterie with excellent success. Above left, the raw sausage with its beautiful color, stuffed into casings we cleaned and saved ourselves. Above right, the cooked sausage with its bits of pork fat and organic apple & onion. This had a rich and unique flavor vaguely reminiscent of liver and other organ meats. We like it in small batches but it gets overwhelming in quantity. We froze most of it and will be testing how long/well it stores as we certainly can’t eat a whole batch at once.

FILIPINO BLOOD STEW

pigbits_2I found various recipes for Dinuguan online, and adapted several versions to our taste. It consists of pork & vegetables simmered in a pork blood broth, and was very tasty. The rich, organ-meat flavor balanced really well with the dried peppers & chives, and we could have eaten more. A definite success.

GERMAN LUNG STEW pigbits_3We haven’t used lungs before (usually we cook up goat & pig lungs for our chickens, who love them). This recipe came from our favorite traditional German cookbook, which has lots of obscure recipes for old-school fare. It’s essentially strips of cooked lung simmered in a vinegary broth, a common German soup more typically made with noodles. In this case, the lung strips replace normal noodles. Above left, the cooked lung pressed and cut into strips; we found the patterning quite pretty. Above right, the blah-looking soup. We weren’t huge fans of how this turned out. It wasn’t bad, but didn’t stand out either, and seemed like one of those recipes that uses lungs just because they’re there in the traditional farmhouse, not because they really add anything to the dish. I think next year we’ll go back to feeding them cooked to chickens, and making such soups with normal noodles. We have found references to pork lungs being truly delicious, so maybe we need to try a different approach.

SAUSAGE CASINGS pigbits_4We’ve saved our own casings (cleaned intestines) every year, though we continue to get better at the process. It’s not as nasty as it seems; certainly anyone who can handle butchering an animal can handle cleaning some casings. We really like the quality of our own casings. Given that purchased casing can be assumed to be from feedlot hogs, we are very happy to be able to make real sausages with ingredients of trusted origin. The batch above used entirely on-farm ingredients other than salt (pork, venison, goat, dried tomatoes/peppers/mushrooms/onions/herbs, and garlic).

OTHER ORGAN MEATS pigbits_5 We absolutely adore heart & tongue. We typically prepare these in the German fashion, boiling them for a long time (peeling the tongue afterward) and then either pickling them in vinegar or serving them fresh. Either way, sliced thin as cold cuts and served with mustard, pickles, our aged cheese, and other appropriate sides, they have exceptional flavor and make a nice seasonal treat.

NOT PICTURED: PORK FEET
These can be a pain to scrape & clean properly, but make a really nice thick pork broth. I like using this to cook rice or beans in, or just to add heft to a soup.

NOT PICTURED: PIG’S EARS
We tried frying the ears, boiled first then cut into strips, but didn’t get it right. They came out kinda strange, like crispy, fatty calamari. Edible, but not tasty. Maybe we skimped too much on the amount of frying oil. Most went to the chickens. Something to work on.

CANADIAN BACONpigbits_6

OK, this isn’t an unusual cut, just being smoked pork loin, but I couldn’t resist throwing in this beautiful photo. We brine the loins for several days in a mix of herbs and spices (taken from Charcuterie), then slow-smoke them for a really rich flavor. One new thing we tried this year to great success: we saved the brine and marinated a whole young rooster in it, then oven-roasted that. It was the best bird we’ve ever eaten, fully infused with the herbed spices of the Canadian Bacon mix, and meltingly tender. That’s going to become an annual tradition for sure.

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