Once again I’ve been remiss in my blog posting, a few weeks back we killed a Middle White Cross that we’d bought at the market. I’d planned on photographing everything meticulously(I did train and work as a photographer after all). But, as I’m the person in the middle of things, actually doing the work it becomes rather difficult to shoot reportage of oneself. I did however manage a few snaps last week as I was cutting some meat. They aren’t brilliant, they were taken with grease covered hands in amongst cuts.
The pig that we’d bought (which I’d called Harriett) was fat, much like what my forefathers would have slaughtered and my uncle suggested that we cut the pig how he would have done when he was younger. The first job was finding two pieces of wood, one to hold the ribs open and another like a ceremonial apple for the mouth. Rather than splitting the carcass down the centre of the back bone, we cut along the line of the back bone, cutting through the ribs and slicing a portion of the loin. As the carcass chilled the stick in the ribs helped keep the cavity open, making it easier when it came to sawing the ribs.
Once split into primals, the shoulders, legs and middles were hand salted in a slate tray and left to cure. The head was cut, brined and made into brawn, while the ‘chain’; the spinal column complete with the pieces of loin were cut as fresh meat. Liver, heart and lungs went to faggots, and were lovingly wrapped in the caul fat before being cooked. What trim remained went to sausages and bones to stock.
We usually air dry the cured shoulder, middles and hams but as it’s been an unnaturally warm winter I could see that there was a fair amount of mould growth even after a weeks hanging. Taking that into consideration I decided to thickly hand slice the middles – those who are devotees of lean meat should avert their eyes as the bellies were largely made of beautifully cured white fat. To be honest, I can remember processing pigs a few years back which were far fattier than this one. Years ago, before the introduction of ‘super-lean’ feeds and the pressure of supermarket demand for lean meat this was the standard. Though this meat was for our own consumption, it’s surprising how many folks ask for ‘proper Welsh bacon’.