Swine and Cheese

A passion for Pigs and Food

Archive for the ‘bacon’ tag

Farewell little pigs

without comments


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!



Written by Sarah

July 11th, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Chorizo with Butter-Bean and Tomato Gratin

without comments

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



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


Written by Sarah

April 25th, 2010 at 11:06 am

Tartiflette Savoyarde

without comments

Tartiflette Savoyarde

There are all sorts of slight variations on this simple Savoyarde speciality. I know it may seem slightly odd that I’m promoting this recipe now as it always reminds me of alpine ski fare, but it is just too delicious to confine to the winter months. However as I had some of our delicious, perfectly ripe organic Perl Wen brie (completely unlike those hideous, tasteless rock hard wedges of brie usually found in supermarkets) knocking about in our fridge as well as a huge hunk of our Tamworth bacon (c/o Lola), a little leftover cream and some sad, old King Edward potatoes it seemed to shout tartiflette to me at least. Served al fresco with some Petite Cherie little plum tomatoes, our Fino olive oil, sea salt and basil it made a divine lunch dish. As they say proof is in the pudding and I’ve just had to wrestle away the dish above from my greedy husband who was diving in for thirds!

Some variations on this dish include using white wine, chicory, celeriac, herbs, garlic, various other sorts of cheeses etc. but I like it as follows:

750g potatoes (such as King Edwards, Desiree, Maris Piper) peeled and thickly sliced

200g bacon chunks (or pancetta)

olive oil (preferably Fino)

2 onions sliced

400g Perl Wen brie (or Reblochon) derinded and sliced

284ml double cream

salt and pepper

Par boil the potato slices in boiling, salted water for about 5-10 mins, then drain in a colander and refresh with cold water.

Saute the bacon in a splash of olive oil until crisp and golden. Add the onions and cook for about 10 mins until the onions are soft.

Butter a gratin dish and arrange layers of potato, onion and bacon and cheese, seasoning as you go but don’t add too much salt.

Pour the cream over and bake for 40 mins at 190′C/ fan 170′C/ top of baking oven in Aga until the top is golden and bubbling.

NB. This also works really well using Ardrahan washed rind cows milk cheese, intermittently available from Dukeshill.


Written by Sarah

April 24th, 2010 at 5:43 pm

Berkshire, Tamworth and Gloucester Old Spot pork

with one comment

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.


Written by Sarah

January 24th, 2010 at 1:58 pm

London visit

without comments

My company Dukeshill supplies most of the well known food halls in London with our hams, sausages, bacon and steamed puddings so we go there quite often to visit the buyers and do demonstrations in store and just to generally check out the competition/current vogues/markets etc.. On a recent visit we were lucky enough to be doing York ham sampling during a charity event in Piccadilly in aid of cancer research. The evening was really fun with lots of celebrities, although Neale and I are useless when it comes to recognising them, and the customers were delightful. The store looked fabulous and in fact they had spent a small fortune supplying the delicious canapes and champagne which were in ample supply. The guest speaker was Ronnie Corbett, who being vertically challenged had to speak from the top of the staircase! Sadler Wells ballet performed as did some talent show person who again neither Neale or I had heard of but no doubt is making Simon Cowell even richer (one of the benefits of living in the sticks!). We eventually finished around 10pm so staggered off into Soho feeling ravenous and thirsty. Our first stop was Bourne & Hollingsworth, a small basement room/bar which is like entering “Aunty Doris’s” front parlour. Absolutely charming venue with a brilliant DJ, lively 20-30 something crowd and yummy cocktails. Neale managed to blag our way into the private party by telling the doorman that he was related to the Hollingsworth of Bourne & Hollingsworth, which incidentally he is. We finally ended up in a lovely Tapas bar called Barrafina only after Neale had been propositioned by a transvestite (he had been walking too fast so was several yards ahead of me – serves him right) in front of five bouncers who found it hilarious especially when Neale declared he was with me and the trannie remarked “are you sure?”. I’d forgotten how good tapas can be especially as a late night snack accompanied by light beer or cocktails.


Written by Sarah

December 17th, 2009 at 5:39 pm