Saturday, 23 March 2013

Trial and error on our quest.

Self sufficiency, if your a meat eater, means producing your own meat (as much as you can.) Living here in the middle of no-where, we were going to the local (5km away) butchers and buying the local meats. We found that their sausages had aniseed in them and we didn't like this. We also found that after a while without eating them, that we were craving for them. Sausages can be made from any meat but you need to tools to make them. I started to research sausage makers and finally settled on a manual one. All of the electric ones seemed to use too much power for us to entertain and I had also read that you can get into a right pickle with them as they are so fast. I bought a machine that holds 5kg of meat. This makes about 50 sausages if using sheep skins and about 30 if using hog casings.
Sausage machine

Next we needed a pork supplier that was relatively cheap, compared to the butchers. Pork here is about 8 euros a kilo so to buy it from the butchers was going to be expensive. We talked to our friend the shepherd about buying a whole pig. He knew a pig farmer that would slaughter a pig for us as and when we wanted it. It was arranged that it would be delivered when I had a long weekend from school so that we could spend 4 days making all the things we wanted to.
Planning is so important when your doing something like this. We made lists of things that we wanted to make, ensured that we had all the ingredients and holders before the pig was delivered.
The pig turned up at the house on a Thursday morning. We were given everything except the back bone.
The carcass
The first job was to cut up the pig into joints for roasting. Kev worked in a butchers many years ago, he was a bit rusty but gave it a good go. We got loads from this including chops and steaks as well as the joints.
We decided with the belly pork to have a go at making bacon. We found a recipe from the Internet with various herbs and spices and left it for a week, adding more salt mixture every day. We also did this with the hocks and hung them until we wanted to eat them...which was about 2 weeks for the first one. One thing to note...if you make your own bacon and you can't get pink salt, your bacon will not be pink. This salt adds colour to you bacon.

We took about 12kg of the pork meat and minced it up, with a hand mincer. This took hours! We were doing shifts as it makes your shoulders hurt. We spent in total over 2 days about 8 hours mincing the meat and the fat for the sausages and chorizo. This was a big learning never to repeat...for the next pig we had an electric mincer!
With the meat minced, we set about making the sausages and were very surprised at how easy it was. I made pork and apple and pork with sage.

While the sausage machine was out we also made chorizo and morcilla (Spanish black pudding).

Using the liver, kidneys and heart, we made faggots, meat loaf (to be eaten hot or cold in sandwiches) pate and had some left over just for slow cooking in the oven. I also had a go at making a pork pie. This is something we really missed from England.
We were also given the pigs head. Not really knowing what to do with this the trusty Internet was used again. I found an old recipe for brawn...meat kept in jelly and set about making that. Another learning curve for me as a was a bit bland and the second attempt was much better adding more herbs and spices to it.
All of this made us realise that we want to raise pigs in the future. Before we can do this we need to find a reasonably humane way to kill them. I don't want to send them to the abattoir as I have heard horror stories about the ones here in Spain. We are discussing the idea of building our own room to use specifically for the purpose of killing and preparing the meat. Until that time we will keep on buying from source and enjoying having a full freezer!