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  #1  
Old 01-01-2012, 04:53 PM
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Pig-ology II


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At long last - the "Pig-ology" sequel.....

For those that missed the original:

Pig-ology

Part III:

Grill-Ology: The mouth-watering sequel to Pig-Ology I and II
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Old 01-01-2012, 04:54 PM
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Brace yourselves, as the scene moves from the ranch to the kitchen. First, the gear - knives and sharpening equipment.

After experimenting with a number of different sharpening tools, I've settled on a diamond lap complemented with a piece of leather and jeweler's rouge. The leather came from a shoe repair place around 20 years ago and the rouge from a local hardware store at about the same time. Both are wearing well....

While it's possible to get a better edge with any number of other methods, it's difficult to do it faster without being under power. I like my arkansas stones, but they take forever.

The knives used are generally my Buck hunting knife (for separating joints and cutting against bone) and a random kitchen knife that happens to have a useful combination of thin, flexible blade that holds an edge well. It was, as I recall, part of a set that cost around $30 for something like 8 knives.... sometimes bargains do find you!
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Old 01-01-2012, 04:55 PM
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First up are the tenderloins. There is not really much to do here other than trim off any bloodshot meat or pieces of hair, grass, sticks, etc... (I never get these on my animals, and I'm sure you don't either, but it surely happens to someone.... )
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Old 01-01-2012, 04:56 PM
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Here's the neck. We usually cut this up into chunks for stews. The neck makes a good roast as well, due to the combination of connective tissue (which requires slow cooking) and some fat marbled into it (for flavor). Neck meat on a sow would have a lot more fat. It's good for grinding into sausage as well.
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Old 01-01-2012, 04:57 PM
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How to make a cutlet from a loin. First, lay it with the fat side down. Push the knife straight down, but don't saw through the connective tissue.

Next, with a little downward pressure, turn the knife 90 degrees, and slide it under the meat but on top of the connective tissue with a bit of a sawing motion.

Last, split right down the middle within an eighth of an inch or so, and fold outward. That's it!
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Old 01-01-2012, 04:58 PM
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The loin can also be left in larger pieces with the fat on top (for grilling) or cut into chops (again, leave the fat on if preferred). As this boar did not have a lot of fat, I removed all of the connective tissue, same proces as above. We will cook these in the slow cooker or oven.

Here's also a picture of a very fat pig that the loin was cut into chops.
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Old 01-01-2012, 05:00 PM
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Here's a ham. It's about 14 pounds and more than we want in a single serving, so it gets cut into either roasts or steaks. Steaks are just roasts that are cut across the grain, basically. First, I like to peel off all the excess connective tissue. Unless there is a lot of fat and you want to roast it whole, there is no reason to leave it on. Also it helps to get rid of any of the 'field' that got left over from the 'field dressing'...... just grab a handful, pull it back, and run the knife along the meat to separate.
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Old 01-01-2012, 05:01 PM
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Next, there are some thin muscles on the surface. Find the edge of one, start peeling back and use the tip of the blade to separate. The "Darth Vader" glove is to keep my left hand warm, FYI. There is another neoprene glove underneath it. If that seems like overkill, you haven't fished around in a cooler full of ice looking for a stray tenderloin.


With the outer layer of connective tissue gone, it's easier to find the boundary between the big muscles. Start peeling them apart. It shouldn't take much pressure except for cutting the ends of the muscles away from the bone. In fact, you can often push your fingers between the muscle groups to separate them.
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Old 01-01-2012, 05:03 PM
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End result.... several large roasts and some smaller ones. How many depends on the size of the ham. With our small hill country deer, 3 roasts are about all you can expect. On this large pig, I got 5 of various sizes. If you want steaks, leave one or more of the roasts together and cut them across the grain to the desired thickness. Experience will show which ones have the least connective tissue and make the best steaks.

You can always decide to thaw out a roast later and cut into steaks before cooking.
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Old 01-01-2012, 05:03 PM
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Now comes the shoulder. For our deer, or small pigs, we often leave the shoulder whole for roasting in a turkey pan or slow cooker. Otherwise, they get boned out for grinding. If the shoulder (with or without the upper arm bone) will fit in a gallon freezer bag, that's usually how I leave them. This pig was far too large for that so it had to get cut up one way or another.

On this large pig, I cut a fairly decent sized roast from it, and left the shoulder blade in the other large piece for bone-in cooking. The rest gets trimmed off of the upper arm bone.
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Old 01-01-2012, 05:05 PM
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Here's something we have to deal with as hunters - blood shot meat. Some folks would discard the entire shoulder. If the bullet had hit bone, I would have too. But, as the saying goes, it's "just a flesh wound." Bloodshot meat often looks much worse than it is. Quite often the blood follows the boundary between the muscle layers and can be cleaned up pretty easily. It is important to cut around the bullet impact area to remove hair and bullet / bone fragments.


After that, separate the remaining pieces as best you can. You may be surprised how much meat you can salvage.

What's left goes into the 'grind' pile. Most of the meat has been salvaged off of this shoulder that looked like a total loss on first glance. It may be slightly bloodier than the other one, but there is nothing wrong with this meat.
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Old 01-01-2012, 05:06 PM
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Ribs.... mmmmmmm

These are cut into smaller segments just on personal preference. Whole racks do take up a lot of freezer space and are harder to wrap. These sections will go into a gallon freezer bag. We like to put them in a slow cooker. They are trickier to cook on a grill than domestic pork ribs due to the lower fat content, but it can be done.
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Old 01-01-2012, 05:07 PM
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Bacon!

This is the belly meat. On a small pig it goes into the grinding pile. On this one, it's about an inch thick and can be cured into bacon. The Morton Tender Quick and Sugar Cure products are easy to use - half an ounce per pound of meat and a week in the refrigerator per inch of thickness. Worked great!

The belly meat can also be saved as a 'wrap' for roasting tougher cuts of meat in the oven. There is a very tough layer of connective tissue on the inside of it that needs to be removed.
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Old 01-01-2012, 05:08 PM
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That's it, except for the scraps. This pig yielded 3 gallon bags almost full of scraps for grinding into sausage or burger.
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Old 01-01-2012, 05:09 PM
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Last.... tonight's dinner, pig loin wrapped up in a pie crust and stuffed. Call it "Pig-ology Wellington", or just call it good!!!!

Hope you enjoyed it.
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Old 01-01-2012, 07:01 PM
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Dang it Mike, I resolved to cut back on my midnight snacks and then you go and post this?!
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Old 01-01-2012, 07:18 PM
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Great instructional report, Mike! You're pretty handy!
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Old 01-01-2012, 07:31 PM
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Gott'a hand it to you, Pard - you done good!
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Old 01-01-2012, 07:35 PM
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Thanks guys. Ironically, I think the "pig wellington" came from the pig in the first "pig-ology" thread.

Can't complain, though! Man it was good...
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Old 01-02-2012, 04:22 AM
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Those shoulders look like they would be good pulled South Carolina Vinegar and Pepper BBQ.
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