Let’s be clear about a couple things. First, I’m no pro butcher. Nor am I suggesting this is ‘the’ way to cut a pig – I feel that boils down to how and what you cook. What it boils down to is this: I grew up butchering game meats, and one cold and stormy winter night, Charcuterie got it in my head that butchering a pig sounded AWESOME. Turns out, it continued to sound pretty awesome, but I didn’t have a venue to do it. Then I moved, about 2 years ago, and the pig cutting began.
First, I did a side. It took a long time, and resulted in some sore backs. So I built a work bench at 38″ [tables are often 30″], bought a few cheap knives. That side didn’t last long. Pork is versatile, tasty, and appeals to many. That next spring, I did 2 whole pigs, with a friend. That fall, we did 3 pigs, with another friend. I’ve got it figured now: a pig doesn’t last us a year. So prior to this coming order of 2 more Berkshires from Irvings Farm Fresh [that’ll be side #14 from them in 2 years], I figured I’d do another side to get us through the fall and into the winter. So I made arrangements for a side from Nature’s Green Acres [check out how they raise their pigs here], and in an effort to dodge some inconvenience on their end, and help some folks out, I did the whole pig, and sold half to some friends at my cost: $2.30/lb or so, about 40% of retail.
Long have I wanted to post some video on this to de-mystify cutting your own meat. It’s not rocket science, and I feel that it is a practical way to get ethically raised, local meats into peoples’ homes for roughly the cost of what one would pay at a box-store – you just have to be willing to get your hands dirty. We now cut most of our meats into large ‘roasts’, as if we want steaks/chops/stew/whatever, they can all be cut from the appropriate roast. Saves time, keeps it flexible in the kitchen. We also leave our pig skin-on, fat-on. Both are very useful products, and are too often wasted. This is simply how we currently tackle it – enjoy.