River Cottage Pig in a Day

A couple of months ago, an irresistible offer dropped into my inbox, advertising a River Cottage training course on how to butcher a pig. Since the My Little Porkie scheme from the very wonderful Samphire had been such a success, we thought we might butcher one to our own requirements next time.

What a successful day!

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This was our half piggy. She was apparently a cross between a Gloucester Old Spot and a commercial Large White. Certainly she was much leaner than Ethel, our little porkie. The head had been removed, and the heart and liver. Of the offal, only the kidney remained. Steve, our tutor for the day, talked us through what we were about to do, and we were off!

Here’s Steve showing Oliver (one of our colleagues on the course) how to detach the leg from the blade.

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David (the other course member) cuts the ribs to separate the belly from the loin.

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And we bone the loin joints.

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You know all those Peppa Pig jigsaw puzzle jokes? Steve’s a master of reassembly.

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And here’s the finished jigsaw.

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We broke for a delicious and rather too plentiful lunch. Roast loin of pork (of course) with smashed root veg and kale, followed by apple crumble and ice-cream. And a walk round the kitchen garden to admire what can be grown even at this time of year.

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I always love to see the fruit trees.

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The next picture shows just what a perfect day it was. River Cottage HQ is at the bottom of the valley, with a very steep unmade track up to the car park and road at the top. You can see the tractor and trailer that they use to transport visitors up and down.

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The afternoon was given over to the preparation of sausages, bacon, paté, and even Parma-type ham.

I do love a nice array of gadgets …

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And here’s Steve operating the mincer.

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We all had a go at the sausage stuffer, which was a serious bit of kit. Steve told us a price for it that seemed eminently affordable. I began to think that perhaps Santa might leave one in my Christmas stocking. Imagine my disappointment to find that he’d remembered the price of a much smaller model. The one that we were using is eight hundred quid plus VAT. You’d need to be VERY fond of sausages to justify that. Ah, well.

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Then it started. Little “tastes” started to appear, some of things that we’d just made, others, like the bacon in the next picture, that had been prepared earlier. The small pieces of bacon are from the cheeks, the longer pieces from the belly.

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Steve assembled a beautiful paté, showing us how to slice the liver properly as well as which spices to use.

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We mixed some chorizo sausage, seen here as little rissoles to check the seasoning.

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And finally there were tastes of liver and kidney. The devilled kidneys were delicious:

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Special thanks to Steve, who was the perfect teacher. He allowed us to play with knives and a saw, not to mention the magnificent sausage stuffer, and only intervened when absolutely needed. His explanations and delivery were absolutely clear. An all-round good guy!

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