Swine and Cheese

A passion for Pigs and Food

Archive for the ‘rare breed’ 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

Chorizo with Butter-Bean and Tomato Gratin

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Chorizo, butter-bean & tomato (breadcrumb topping to be added!) gratin

This recipe is sort of a cross between a summery French Cassoulet and a Spanish chorizo dish. Really tasty and gutsy but served with a dressed green salad it also passes as a summery supper dish. Anyway it happened that I had some of our very own chorizo made at Dukeshill using our Berkshire pig, Tallulah to use up. Neale and I have been eating quite a lot of our chorizo in various recipes, but as always seems to happen I end up feeding quite a few family and friends and as a result I never get around to photographing the finished dish or writing about it. One of my favourite but oh so simple ways of eating up our chorizo is to fry it up in olive oil and serve with our home produced eggs for breakfast or we may have it with our version of Huevos Rancheros on corn tortillas if we’re feeling particularly hungry.

This recipe uses the chorizo we made at Dukeshill using unsmoked, rare breed pork, lots of sweet and hot paprika, loads of fresh garlic, cloves and salt and a few other spices – delicious!

300g chorizo, cut into chunks

2 x 420g tin butterbeans, drained and rinsed

olive oil (preferably our Andalucian Fino)

1 large onion, chopped

3 gloves garlic, chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and diced

2 sticks celery, diced

100g diced bacon (or pancetta)

several sprigs of thyme

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon paprika

1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes

75g white breadcrumbs

parsley

seasoning

Dry fry the chorizo and put in gratin dish. Put a good slug of olive oil into the frying pan and add the onion, garlic, celery and carrot and gently fry for 10 minutes.

Add the diced bacon, thyme and spices and stir in for about a minute.

Add the tomatoes, butter beans and 550 ml boiling water.

Add to the chorizo in the gratin dish and give it all a good stir.

Pop in a low oven 150′C/ fan 130′C/ simmering oven of an Aga without covering for 2 hours to allow the liquid to become reduced and the flavours to develop.

Add the breadcrumb topping and chopped parsley. Pop back in a hot oven at 190′C/fan 170′C/ bottom of the roasting oven of an Aga for about 15 minutes until the topping is crisp and golden.

Serve with a leafy salad and lots of Spanish wine!

Chorizo with Butter-Bean & Tomato Gratin

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Written by Sarah

April 25th, 2010 at 11:06 am

Friends no more

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Having got off to a wonderful start Sydney, our labrador and surrogate piggie Mum, fell out with his new family rather spectacularly this week. It was all over the carrot I’d left in the pigs trough for them to munch on. Sydney true to form had taken to running into the pig pen to greet his new Gloucester Old Spot family before shovelling the pig shit down his neck and wandering off to the pig trough in the hope of finding food. As I was always waiting for this action his tactic was to swerve away from the trough about a foot before reaching it, look at me and wander off with a resigned look. However when he saw the carrot gleaming in the trough on Wednesday he couldn’t contain his excitement. He slyly picked it up hoping none of us would notice and tried sloping off to a corner of the pig pen. Unluckily for Syd the three, greedy, rare breed pigs had noticed and ran after him nipping him. When Syd finally lay down to munch his carrot Flora did the unforgivable, as far as Syd is concerned, and actually tried to take a bite of HIS carrot. Well you might not think labradors are an aggressive breed but Syd virtually roared at her, growling and snapping. Abruptly the love affair came to an end!

Mine, mine, mine ...

Mine, mine, mine ...

Leave me alone

Leave me alone

Sydney losing

Sydney losing

Growling commencing

Growling commencing

Really, honestly I thought there could be no greedier animal on the planet than a labrador, what with Syd eating the Christmas turkey, a chicken and porcini dish, three bars of single estate Rococo chocolate and a large box of expensive Artisan du Chocolat salted caramels all in three days! But clearly our new Gloucester Old Spot pigs are more focused than even him. I honestly don’t remember our old batch of pigs nipping until they were much older and braver but this threesome are quite ‘in your face nippy’ already. Not a bad thing as this sort of counteracts their cuteness factor enabling me to think about how tasty they’ll be!

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Written by Sarah

February 7th, 2010 at 10:24 am

Weaners due any day

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I’m really excited. Mike Bant has confirmed we are able to have two little girl Gloucester Old Spots in the next week from the same place we had our last lot, Her Majesty’s Prison Hewell Grange in Worcestershire. Already we have prepared their area putting in a new field gate on the second side of their triangular pen area to allow large vehicle access from both sides, although we still haven’t planted any trees but plan to do so in the coming weeks. I’m particularly excited as I am going with Neale this time to pick them up in our friends working Landrover which has been stripped out. Remembering the state of Neale’s Nissan X-Trail last year after the one journey with our new pigs, and the ensuing projectile diarrhoea, we’re really relieved we can use a vehicle you can literally hose down, but haven’t quite come clean(!) with our friend about the possibility of that happening yet.

Character-wise I loved our old Berkshire and Tamworth pigs but the Gloucester Old Spot was a lot gentler and easier to cope with. Towards the end of Tallulah, Lola and Oinky’s lives I really didn’t like being in the pen with Tallulah, the Berkshire, in particular. Mainly because she bit me quite hard and just rammed me which considering she was 84kg was scary. However don’t let that put you off Berkshires. She was the most beautiful, the most ballsy and the funniest to watch as she was always doing something, such as running, wallowing, rooting, checking out the hedgerow, kicking her football etc.. Despite all that we plumped for the Gloucester Old Spot this year but we may well go back to Tamworths and Berkshires in  years to come or perhaps some other rare breed. Already the names in the frame are Fatima and Flora but I’ll keep you posted as the debate is still raging!

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Written by Sarah

January 26th, 2010 at 12:16 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