Swine and Cheese

A passion for Pigs and Food

Berkshire, Tamworth and Gloucester Old Spot pork

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If you are easily upset then look away now! I realise I never reported back about the taste of the finished product aka Tallulah, Lola and Oinky, our Berkshire, Tamworth and Gloucester Old Spot pigs respectively. Incidentally I have just posted a picture of the deerhound who took a keen interest in Tallulah in the Pig Diary (“Tallulah’s first suitor” episode). I’ve got to admit that it took about a month after their slaughter before I felt like eating any of them. From the image of how they returned from the abattoir you’ll see why I was a little upset especially as it was still obvious who was who. I remember when I was working at the Malton Bacon Factory back in the eighties I started working in the lairage for the first month and as a result I couldn’t eat any pork for that month. It was the association with a living animal that makes it so hard, and especially when you’ve got to know them so well. As before it was bacon that got me back on track again!

From L to R: Tallulah, Oinky and Lola

From L to R: Tallulah, Oinky and Lola

The overriding issue with all three animals has been the enormous amount of fat. How they had enough muscle to support themselves I do not know but Neale and I realise that we severely messed up with the balanced feeding programme. I suspect it was all those treacle puddings. With our next batch of pigs we will be much stricter with what we give them. All three types have tasted delicious but as we still haven’t compared them side by side it is difficult to say, hand on heart, which of the three has the best flavour. Glyn, our Dukeshill butcher, whose opinion I value highly particularly enjoyed the Tamworth shoulder joint we gave him saying it was one of the best pieces of pork he had tasted. Considering he has been in the pig trade for 45 years it must be good. One of the things I’ve noticed with all three types is the skin crackles exceptionally well. Also the fat has that lovely slight yellow tinge to it and every cut has been meltingly tender.

The faggots Neale and Glyn produced using their hearts and livers and lungs (lights as they are known in the trade) and the caul fat were absolutely delicious. They produced about 72 faggots from the three pigs based on our Dukeshill recipe. Neale and Glyn also produced sausages using the intestines, minced pork and fat, chorizo and flitches of bacon (which we have now hanging in our larder) and dry cured several of the legs resulting in delicious York ham. We were also left with numerous joints and chops, belly, tenderloin, ribs, kidneys, trotters. Not one bit of each pig was wasted, we felt we owed them that much with the exception of the heads and obviously the blood as we weren’t present at the killing. Neale really didn’t like seeing the heads of his three pigs bobbing up and down in the curing brine looking up at him, it was too much to bear so the brawn never got made! Hugh Fearnley-Whittingshall would be horrified with us.

A Tallulah/Berkshire flitch

A Tallulah/Berkshire flitch

At the moment I’m trying out several recipes to use up the pork so I will report back on those in due course but I do think that for a superior flavour, when it comes to unalduterated pork, free range, rare breeds such as ours take some beating. Less so with dry cured hams and sausages etc. where the subtle flavour is masked by the salt in the case of the ham and seasoning in the case of the sausages. In fact the commercial breeds of pig are better suited for the dry cured hams we make at Dukeshill in terms of conformity. I know we would get numerous complaints about the fattiness of the hams if we were to use these breeds (even when fed correctly!) and as I’ve just said the flavour differences would be indistinguishable.

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Written by Sarah

January 24th, 2010 at 1:58 pm