Death of a pig (part 3) brining and curing

Within hours of receiving Hoosier, he has been butchered and I will now start curing and brining the different parts.  This is often done after service starting around 11 pm usually finishing near 2 am, having consumed a couple of local drafts in the process.

One of my favorite local brews, anything by Night Shift.

The attributes of the pig and the needs of the restaurant will determine what I do with the pig.  If I already have a prosciutto hanging I will make American style hams; if I have a full stock of coppa, I can make tasso.  If the back fat is of top quality and we need lardo, I will make it.  Hoosier’s back fat is thick and beautiful, however, I have a Magnalitsa pig coming in soon and will use the back fat from that pig to make lardo.  Hoosier’s back fat will be diced, packed in 1 pound bags and frozen for future use in sausage making.

1 lb. bags of Hoosier’s back fat.

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Enough already, here’s what I did with Hoosier: I brined the skin, most of the bones, the hams, feet and head in a salt – brown sugar brine.  I plan on smoking all of these items. The thickness and density of each item will determine how long they will remain in the brine, skin 3 days, hams 10 days plus.  As they are pulled from the brine they will be smoked.

Pig skin in brine.

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I trimmed and dry rubbed the shoulders for spiced coppa, I did the same with the jowls for guanciale.  I will keep these in the refrigerator for a few days, turning daily, until the cure fully penetrates the meat. I will then hang them in our drying room until they lose at least 30% of their initial weight, becoming meatily delicious in the process.

Guanciale, prosciutto and peppered coppa hanging in our aging room.

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In an effort to get some of the pig on the menu as quickly as possible I also give a quick mild brine to the pig chops, loin steaks and whole tenderloins.  These will brine overnight, before being sous vide, finished to order and put on our menu the following night.

Some of my favorite charcuterie books that I have looked to for ideas and techniques.

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I think my next post will be about Hoosier on the menu and possibly pate.

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