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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Using The Whole Animal

A little while ago we purchased a whole pig from a farmer we know in a town not far from here. They were not heritage breed pigs, just plain old Landrace but well bred and ethically raised in a paddock with somewhere to wander and snuffle. 
There are many cuts from the meat and they are all frozen into portions in the freezer.

As I did last year, I made Fromage de Tete (see above) from the head and trotters and you can read about that here. It keeps for up to a month in the fridge and is delicious for cut lunches and carries a robust chutney or pickle very well.

The left over liquor from the simmer makes a wonderful pork jelly with creamy rendered fat on the top.

This is the leftovers to give you an idea how it looks stored in the fridge.
Pork jelly is the solidified rich stock that naturally occurs from using the trotters. This is very nutritious and a real treat heated up as a broth or even a couple of tablespoons into a mug with boiling water to fill and stirred to dissolve makes a nourishing drink and is very good for when you are feeling poorly. 
The fat is easily scraped off the top and is spreadable on bread if you are so inclined or may be used in place of cooking/frying oil.
( Read an interview here with Sally Fallon author of "Nourishing Traditions" about animal fat. Even better, by the book)

I wish I was a big fan of offal but I'm working towards it but the dogs like a lot of the stuff I don't. I do favour the cheap cuts too though and you can read how to enjoy ham hocks here.
The extra fat is cut and rendered for soap and we have talked about that here before.

The advantages of getting to know producers in your area and being able to buy a whole beast and honouring that beast by using the whole product. I am supporting local producers who raise ethically AND living frugally. It is a fallacy to say that eating organic is always the most expensive route. If you live in a city you may have to look to a small town for a producer or approach a butcher for a better deal for a whole beast, fat and all! 


  1. Fromage de Tete sounds so much better than 'head cheese' doesn't it? I think you are marvellously brave to tackle a whole animal. I will work my way up to that one day. I am still proud of myself for making chicken stock..

    I hope you are still running the Living Better Group. Is it on next Thursday? I would love to come along.

    1. Absolutely Jo! We are so excited to be meeting up again next Thursday 31st Jan at the Cock and Bull from 7-9 pm We are going to be talking about harvesting herbs and other non-edible plants and their value in the frugal household.

  2. ah great timing! I didn't see your soap post before, some great tips there. I still need to find a way to enjoy offal, I'm going to try pate next, as liver casserole was not good!

  3. Hey Tanya an interesting post...I like the idea of honouring the animal by using as much of it as possible, although I wouldn't be brave enough to make Fromage de Tete....I think I might be put off by those eyes looking at me!!
    I tried your beetroot and carrot salad.....I need to tweak the dressing but it was lovely and hubby asked me to make up a container of it so he can have it in his lunches......and that's from a confirmed 'beetroot hater'!!

    Claire x

  4. I take it that is like brawn Tanya? My dad was never one to waste anything. Black pudding was made from the blood, brawn from the head and all offal was cooked and enjoyed :)
    Friends often cringe when I tell them how I was raised but when you don't know any different it doesn't bother you. To this day I still love offal.
    We are trying to source a local farmer to buy meat direct from and have joined a co-op to purchase local organic grains and such through. Hopefully with a real attempt at gardening we can supplement what we are buying from the farmers markets too.

  5. I bought a chicken the other night and roasted it in the schlemmertopf a friend had bought me. I pulled the meat from the bones to feed the family and boiled the bones in water with a dash of vinegar for 24 hours. The resulting stock is nearly 6 pints worth or 6 #20 Fowlers Vacola jars. Some of the meat went into a chicken risotto the next day and it has served me twice and my kids once as chicken and cheese on toast and I STILL have more meat left. :D The bones, after making the stock were pureed and fed to our chickens (macabre yes but the protein is great for them and they loved it) so I can happily say that we have wasted nothing from the chicken and managed to stretch it to be part of 10 meals so far with probably one more yet (including the stock).
    I grew up eating lambs brains which I loved crumbed and fried although the thought turns my stomach these days. Not sure I could eat them again yet at least but maybe int he future. I love the ethos of using all of an animal and honouring the sacrifice it has made for us. Wasting it is dishonouring the poor beast to me.


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