Swine and Cheese

A passion for Pigs and Food

Archive for the ‘abattoir’ tag

Farewell little pigs

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Fatima

There hasn’t been much to report on our three Gloucester Old Spot pigs that hadn’t happened to our last three rare breed pigs. Twice a day stand well back and sling a bucket of food in the general direction of trough and repeatedly go out to refill their water butt which they love up-ending! I don’t know how they managed to do it but every time they splashed me with mud. Because they insisted on knocking over the water butt we ended up with a small corner pond next to the butt which never dried out. Like the last pigs they loved rolling, sitting and walking around in this muddy sludge and because they were so greedy and assertive they would jump up at the fence whenever they heard me coming, hence the splatterings!

Anyway this last Monday was D-Day for them. This time Neale had booked them into a relaunched abattoir at Bishop’s Castle run by a consortium of local farmers/producers which seemed to be a well run, small operation. There Fatima, Flora and Freya were unloaded along with a variety of other rare breed piggies. Unlike last time I didn’t have any pangs of guilt or sadness, just relief at not having to get changed again every morning! This time I was present during the butchering. Glynn and Radek did a splendid job of creating an enormous number of a variety of joints, chops, boned and rolled bellies as well as producing a nice stash of sausages from all the trim, and a lot of face meat for Neale to attempt brawn. Wow, what a taste sensation that was. Absolutely delicious, so succulent and tasty. Served with our Dukeshill Piccalilli and one of our lettuces from the garden it was a sublime summer lunch. Slightly fattier than our Dukeshill potted ham hock and with a subtly different flavour it took an age to make, mostly because it was so fiddly to remove the meat from the fat, so in fact using the head meat from our three pigs we only managed to produce two loaf tin sized brawns. We will keep you posted as to how the brawn development at Dukeshill goes!

Brawn

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Written by Sarah

July 11th, 2010 at 5:13 pm

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

The Pig Diary – Take 2

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Watch this space. Neale is about to choose his next litter of pigs. At the time of posting he is still undecided as to the breed but rest assured it will be a rare breed again and this time we are determined to feed them appropriately. They’re still sniggering at the Leintwardine abattoir at the sheer fattiness of our beloved Tallulah, Lola and Oinky who incidentally have been delicious once you cut the 2″ of fat off everything, more in the case of the bacon! More on that later.

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Written by Sarah

January 12th, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Posted in News,The Pig Diary

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D – DAY

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I can’t begin to tell you the sadness you feel when the culmination of the whole project has to come to its awful conclusion as far as the living creatures are concerned. After writing last weeks blog Neale announced on Monday that he had booked our three rare breed pigs in at the very reputable small abattoir in Leintwardine for the 7th July, today. So I delayed writing the blog until I had said my farewells. It is incredibly hard to not feel a huge twinge of sadness and betrayal when you send animals you personally cared for to their deaths. I know as soon as we receive the three carcases and heads I will be fascinated to follow the butchery which is being done by our wonderful Dukeshill butcher Glyn. But right now I’m not happy because I really will miss them. Just like the wonderful Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall I have fallen in love with all things pig. I was already a huge fan because of what we can do with a pig here at Dukeshill but the actual pig keeping was a whole new experience.

Awkward angle shot due to pushing & shoving by pigs

Awkward angle shot due to pushing & shoving by pigs

 

 

Loading them onto the immaculate trailer we had hired wasn’t too hard despite Lola making a getaway across the chickens’ field. After a circuit she was exhasted so thankfully resorted to a huge troughful of food cleverly placed at the back of the trailer. Oinky, the Gloucester Old Spot, true to his breeds nature was the first to get in and just calmly walked straight into the trailer, followed by the sprightly Lola. Tallulah, the Berkshire, true to form wasn’t having any of it and took ages to coax in however her greediness got the better of her and finally she just had to get to the trough.

Interestingly after Neale had confirmed the kill date with the abattoir he then estimated their weights by measuring their length and girth. He had been told that pigs kept for just three months from weaners i.e. 6 months old would weigh about 55-60 kilos. Imagine his surprise and mine when we discovered that Tallulah the Berkshire was a whopping 84 kilos, Lola the Tamworth about 75 kilos, and Oinky the Gloucester Old Spot 63 kilos. We await the unkind comments from the abattoir when they say they are possibly the fattiest pigs they have come across. I suspect it might have been something to do with all those treacle puddings!

At least our rare breed piggies had a wonderful short life. Yesterday I passed a lorry on the M6 going through spaghetti junction with pigs crammed inside and I can guarantee ours in their Rolls Royce style trailer had a far nicer end than those poor pigs. As sad as I am today I don’t regret the experience at all. R.I.P. Tallulah, Lola and Oinky.

From L to R: Tallulah, Lola and Oinky

From L to R: Tallulah, Lola and Oinky

 

 

Watch out for the Berkshire vs Tamworth vs Gloucester Old Spot pork taste tests.

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Written by Sarah

July 7th, 2009 at 1:52 pm

Tamworth bully

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Oinky

Oinky

I have found it fascinating to watch our three rare breed pigs develop their very individual characters. When I used to work in the pig lairage at the Malton Bacon factory we would receive up to 1400 pigs a day, where they were housed for up to 24 hours prior to slaughter. They were a Landrace commercial breed and so all looked the same, hence I never really noticed or had time to notice their characters. The only thing I do remember is they had a rather nasty habit of turning on an injured pig which would have to be despatched immediately with a captive bolt gun to put it out of its misery. This shadier side of a pigs character is never really seen by the public, we all have cute images of pigs thrust in front of us from birth. Having said that I absolutely love pigs, they’re certainly no worse than humans. They get excited, bored, hungry, vocal, seek the company of others and have spats. However they never seem to hold grudges. This has been so evident from Lola’s, our Tamworth, repeated bullying of Oinky, the boy Gloucester Old Spot. It mainly happens when there’s food about but also occasionally she just bites his ear anyway. Poor Oinky squeals each time but later on you see him nuzzled up against Lola and Tallulah, the Berkshire. Yes, after three months I have fallen deeply in love with our pigs.

The impending execution day is drawing nearer for all three and even though I have worked in abattoirs and on the killing line it is very difficult to come to terms with when it is an animal you have personally cared for. Even when I was hardened to it all, I did and still maintain that it is a horrible process despite all the best abattoir procedures and designs to ease the animals stress. Twenty four years ago when I was working in the abattoir we had water sprays to cool the pigs down, fed them reject chocolates and other foods, played classical music to soothe them. However when the machinery was turned on every morning and the noise spooked the pigs they spent the rest of their short lives squealing, stressed and smelling the blood just round the corner. Oh yes, it’s going to be unbelievably hard in a few weeks time.

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Written by Sarah

June 14th, 2009 at 10:37 am