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You know that essay you had to write at school "how I spent my holidays"? Well what follows is one of those - it's "how we spent Good Friday". I've talked before about making sausages. This was largely inspired by the television series River Cottage and its follow ups (yes, I know, we don't have a TV ... but we do have a DVD player).

Both it and books such as the The River Cottage Meat Book have had us searching for locally reared fresh (rather than frozen) organic meat. We've been lucky and found two farms "in conversion". One, Fen End Farm at Cottenham, are just starting out but we've had some pork shoulder from their first batch. The other, Chris and Suzanne at Heron Farm at Waterbeach are somewhat further down the road, being in full production and having a stall at Ely Farmers' market every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month.

Chris will deliver to us on his way back from the slaughterhouse, which is handy and means we get the meat very fresh so we decided to go it over Easter and buy a complete forequarter and process it ourself. We also asked for some liver so we could make paté.

We've visited the farm recently so we knew exactly who we were getting, it was one of these pigs.

And this is what came - a nice forequarter.

Front quarter

Beth's already cut off the trotter which you can see above the joint and made the first cut to remove the leg. We got a large shoulder joint, a "pig's knee", which we cooked Bavarian style and lots of belly meat for sausages and a big pork pie out of this.

However that's not the best bit. This is where it gets gruesome. Chris offered us a head too (they're essentially waste as far as he's concerned). So we got this:


Jake had the ears, the cheeks went into the sausages, and the rest of the meat was made into brawn once the head had been boiled in a stock pot for four hours.

And you remember that liver. Well the butcher hadn't separated the liver from the rest so Chris just gave us a bag of bits and left us to get on with it. This is how it looked (that's a big plate, about 16" long):


That's the entrails from two pigs: tongues, livers, hearts, throat, and lungs. The livers and tongues went in the paté, the hearts went in the freezer for later and the lungs and throats went in the green bin.

The only real failure in all of this processing was the paté which really didn't work well and is now being used as dog food, so it's not totally wasted. We suspect we didn't grind the liver finely enough.

Anyway that was Good Friday. Bloody hard work but we now have a freezer full of meat in various forms, a fridge full of pork pie and brawn and a satisfied look on our faces.

Tags: food Written 30/03/05

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