Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Using it All

I quickly learned to love the videos done by the Farmstead Meatsmith. This guy amazes me to no end with his skill and passion for his work. In today's posted episode, he goes over how to make your own blood sausage, head cheese, and pate from your own pig. Somehow I don't think that there is a huge number of readers here who will watch this, and even fewer who would enjoy the video as I enjoyed it; but to those of you who watch something like this and consider creating the food that is described by the Meatsmith, well, I could hug you for it. :)

On The Anatomy Of Thrift: Harvest Day from farmrun on Vimeo.

I have been thinking a lot lately about using the whole animal after slaughtering. At first, the very idea of blood sausage and head cheese made me grimace and want to stick to happier thoughts, such as bacon. But after awhile, my mind began to change. I have two pigs in the barn now, and they will be slaughtered in the spring. Fine Tamworths are they both, and they are a prized bacon breed. But what will I do with the other parts that aren't as highly prized as bacon? What about the blood? The offal? The head? The feet? As I care for my pair of pigs each day, feeding them, brushing them, and talking to them, I feel a weighty responsibility to do these creatures justice. If I'm going to take their lives for the sake of my stomach, shouldn't I honor that by using everything they have to offer? My conscience tells me I should.

Americans are not used to the idea of eating anything besides cuts of meat. It doesn't help matters that the word "offal" (which derived from the butcher's term of "off fall"; what "fell off" when the carcass was opened) sounds exactly like the word "awful". Oh dear. Nor does it help that we are largely disconnected from our food, and folks let's just say it like it is: the idea of eating feet, blood, or a pig head is not appealing to 99.9% of us. Hmm.

In many third world countries, the liver, heart, blood, and eyeballs were/are the most prized part of a freshly killed animal and the head of the family/tribe always got these parts. And what of the "fancy" meat cuts that we Americans know so well? Guess what; those often went to the dogs.

We're dealing with more than just our palates here, we're dealing with an entire generation that has been removed from the idea of eating more than just muscle. We no longer have mothers and grandmothers who knew how to make a nutritious meal out of a pig heart. How many of us even know what Salumi is? (and no, I'm not talking about salami here!) Granted, I still have a hard time with all this. I still draw the line at eating pickled ram's balls. Even I have my limits. But I want to make the start this next spring to do better about using the whole animal.

Next year I will try blood sausage, and maybe even head cheese. Wish me luck.


Lydia said...

Wow, that was probably the most beautiful video I've ever seen about anything, thanks for sharing. When I was growing up we ate pig ears, tongues, cheeks, blood, intestines, feet, and all the various organs, and so much more. I was too young to really appreciate it though, and often thought they were "yucky." It's hard to find anything except "muscles" here, and am looking forward to raising and loving our own pigs in the future.

Emilee said...

I want to hear your story about butchering the goat!

Spryte said...

I don't have time before I go to make my son his dinner... but I WILL watch this bideo tonight! Thanks so much for sharing! Though I will probably start with goats, rather than pigs... we shall see.

farmgal said...

i will get a chance to watch the video but yes I am a big nose to tail butcher, I was raised making head cheese, scrambled brain with eggs, blood pudding etc so that seems very normal to me as does using most of the offal but in the past couple years I have gotten books that have expanded that knowledge, I am working towards knowing how to cook, use or preserve pretty much everything you can think of in terms of use..

While I can understand the dssire to jump into blood pudding, its so tradional, might I remcommend trying this recipe as a first "blood" one for you..

There are many versions on the net, and you can use any critters fresh blood to make it with, but the duck is excellent indeed.

Anonymous said...

A few weeks ago you put a link in your blog to the meat smith breaking down a 1/2 pig. Well, this came at a time my husband and I were trying it find every bit we could on slaughtering pigs. Our two pigs were ready and we had no idea what we were doing. The meatsmith had the best video I had seen. He made it seem effortless and simplistic. We watched all the other videos on his site. Capturing the blood seemed too much pressure but we wanted to use everything. In the end we did make head cheese but didn't use much offal. I wonder what the next slaughter will bring! By the way, everyone we know thinks we're freaks....... Whatever...