I love raising pigs. There is something about their nature & their character which capitvates me. I also love cooking & eating them. The effort I put into raising my pigs is show in the pork they produce. By raising them on pasture, feeding them on barley, curds, whey and sour milk & finishing them on apples, their flesh and fat are delicious. By grazing the pigs rotationally they also help me improve the soils on my farm and become part of a more sustainable, diverse whole.
This is also why I love to host my Porkshop--a two day workshop dedicated to teaching others about raising pigs my way and giving them the best possible end to fulfill their life's goal. While Smithfield may process 30,000 hogs in a day, I prefer to dedicate two days to celebrate each of my pig's lives. This may seem crazy, it may seem simple minded, but all the same it is rural, traditional, slow and careful. I prefer to do things properly, trying desperately to not waste a thing from these creatures I have nurtured for almost a year; putting extra energy into so they taste the best they can. Can Smithfield say that?
Is pig slaughter for everyone? Do you really need to witness and particupate in an animal's death to know what it is like and to eat the end product? Truthfully? Probably not. Millions of people consume meat without a second thought, happily munching away barely noticing whether they're eating pork, chicken, beef, or dog.... But what if you really wanted a closer conneciton to your food? What if you wanted to experience something different than palid commodity offerings? What if you were thinking you wanted to have a go at raising some of your own food? Then a hands-on workshop like the Porkshop is a must. Beyond coming to grips with the reality of what it takes to get meat on the plate humanely, the Porkshop is also about cooking with every part of the pig, so little is wasted. Additionally, as we learn the value of what it takes to raise quality, healthy, nutrient dense, flavorful meat we also learn the value of actually eating less meat. Savoring it more and valuing both the animal and the farmer who raised it.
So what does a Porkshop entail? Day One we--to put it simply--kill a pig. Not a cold hearted, angry act, but a humane death calmly executed in mild, pleasant surroundings. Truthfully, the pig never knows what happened. There is little noise, little for the pig to fear from unfamiliar surroundings. Once the pig has dropped we hang and stick it so we can capture the blood for making Boudin Noir--blood sausage. After scalding and scraping and evicerating the animal we hang it overnight while we prepare the Boudin, Head Cheese, Pates and Offally good tidbits. It is a long day, not without its stresses. But it is all worthwhile. In between slaughter and processing we usually stop and have a thoughtful lunch.
Day Two we cut apart the carcass which has hung and chilled overnight. In doing so we will be preparing dry-cure bacon, country-style ham and setting aside meat for sausages. If time allows we will even grind and make some different sorts of charcuterie. Along the way there will be plenty of time for questions, discussion and we will finish with a hearty meal.
This year's Porkshop will be held in two events. The first will take place the weekend of November 27th & 28th so we can have some pork & fresh lard ready for creaing goodies for Duckfest. I will also host a second session of Porkshop on the weekend of December 11th & 12th. The cost is $125 for each two day session--which are two separate workshops (1 slaughter & 1 processing) & cooking lessons and includes two meals and refreshments. Book now so you don't miss out on this great event!!
The Kitchen Garden Company
The Kitchen Garden Company at Claddagh Farms is a small company dedicated to providing farm to table dining experiences, culinary education and on-farm course for cooks, chefs and anyone who is interested in learning more about where their food comes from and how it is produced. Along the way, you might even choose to learn how to raise something yourself.