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Mission: Pork


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Emma and I went to the DC Farmer's Market when it opened and bought two long trotters and three pig heads - total damage $35. They came frozen, so they happily split them for me. Not many seven year old girls would be as into watching a frozen pig head get cut in half with a bandsaw as mine was.

The butcher asked, "Is this for some kind of science project?" :P

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Emma and I went to the DC Farmer's Market when it opened and bought two long trotters and three pig heads - total damage $35. They came frozen, so they happily split them for me. Not many seven year old girls would be as into watching a frozen pig head get cut in half with a bandsaw as mine was.

The butcher asked, "Is this for some kind of science project?" :P

Pictures please? :D

Did you tell him your evil plan for the half heads?

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:P -->

QUOTE(Mrs. B @ Jan 9 2007, 05:17 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Pictures please? :D

Did you tell him your evil plan for the half heads?

I told him, "nope, they're for dinner!"

Pictures will be forthcoming. I'm dealing with trotters tonight, will post action shots later, and if I feel like cracking open the cooler, some frosty hog heads.

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Emma and I went to the DC Farmer's Market when it opened and bought two long trotters and three pig heads - total damage $35. They came frozen, so they happily split them for me. Not many seven year old girls would be as into watching a frozen pig head get cut in half with a bandsaw as mine was.

The butcher asked, "Is this for some kind of science project?" :P

Damn. I still have a knife scar from the time I tried to split and clean a pig's head with a cleaver, a hacksaw, a prybar and paring knife. If only I'd thought of the bandsaw! Course, that's one problem with those cute little farmer's markts: no bandsaws. Not to mention that my head was damnably more expensive than yours appears to have been. (Damn family farmers!)

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Emma and I went to the DC Farmer's Market when it opened and bought two long trotters and three pig heads - total damage $35. They came frozen, so they happily split them for me. Not many seven year old girls would be as into watching a frozen pig head get cut in half with a bandsaw as mine was.

The butcher asked, "Is this for some kind of science project?" :P

If Frank McCourt were to read this, I'll bet he would scratch his head in wonderment. (See Angela's Ashes)
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Pictures please? :D

"Candid, you know, CANDID photography?"

Nudge, nudge, wink wink.

Those heads were peeking out of a cooler on the front porch all day. I am sure they are the reason why the UPS guy didn't ring the doorbell. Nothing like a few frozen pig heads on the front step to tell everyone that yes, we are complete freaks.

(Waitman, your story about the pig head one of the funniest phone calls I had all year. "Reserve brain for another use" :P )

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Pictures please? :lol:

Here ya go. Click any thumbnail for bigger image.

Defrosting the trotters:

1000300fj4.th.jpg

Initial simmer:

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Aromatics:

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The Joy of Mise:

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Time to Skim:

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The Result, Before Picking:

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The Result, After Picking (the meat is the tiny pile on the upper right):

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Mix in Shallots, Mustard, Herbs:

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All That Work For This?

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Clever observers will note that a couple of hocks are snuck into the "before picking" picture. This is because Heather paid attention to the recipe sooner than I did, and noted that the "Pork Trotters with Sauce Gribiche" recipe from Bouchon does not in fact call for trotters, but rather five pounds of hocks. At the market, I was thinking much more about heads than feet, so I wound up with the wrong parts. As it turns out, there is precious little meat on a trotter - the toe-pads probably outweigh all the muscles I could find in there. I ultimately wound up with about half what the recipe told me to expect (8 oz meat instead of 16 oz).

Something else to note about this recipe is that it is probably best done in a hot kitchen. The recipe does advise one to pick the meat away from the skin, bones, tendons, etc while hot, lets it congeal into a rubbery mass, but the amount of pork fat everywhere in the subsequent steps meant that my cold kitchen tended to turn the resulting meat mixture into glue. I lost a little bit of precious pork every time I transferred it because of the tenacity with which it congealed to the bowl, my hand, the spoon, etc.

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Damn. I still have a knife scar from the time I tried to split and clean a pig's head with a cleaver, a hacksaw, a prybar and paring knife. If only I'd thought of the bandsaw! Course, that's one problem with those cute little farmer's markts: no bandsaws. Not to mention that my head was damnably more expensive than yours appears to have been. (Damn family farmers!)

However, my pigs were not allowed to run free across the verdant hills, taken to museums and other field trips, read bedtime stories, or permitted to expire peacefully of happiness like yours were. $0.99 per pound, baby!

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Well there doesn't seem to be enough jowl left to make guanciale, sadly. Since I don't intend to make head cheese, the only other significant piece of meat I think I can get off these babies is the tongue. Does anyone have a favorite pork tongue recipe they want to share?

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Well there doesn't seem to be enough jowl left to make guanciale, sadly. Since I don't intend to make head cheese, the only other significant piece of meat I think I can get off these babies is the tongue. Does anyone have a favorite pork tongue recipe they want to share?

What, no sauteed brains in brown butter with capers?

wimp.

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Clever observers will note that a couple of hocks are snuck into the "before picking" picture. This is because Heather paid attention to the recipe sooner than I did, and noted that the "Pork Trotters with Sauce Gribiche" recipe from Bouchon does not in fact call for trotters, but rather five pounds of hocks. At the market, I was thinking much more about heads than feet, so I wound up with the wrong parts. As it turns out, there is precious little meat on a trotter - the toe-pads probably outweigh all the muscles I could find in there. I ultimately wound up with about half what the recipe told me to expect (8 oz meat instead of 16 oz).

Made the same damn mistake the 1st time I tried this and no fresh hocks were available on Mt. Pleasant Street so I ended up with less than 1/4 of the necessary meat, threw the whole mess out. Picking from actual feet (rather than hocks) is a drag not ever to be repeated in this house. I think the recipe should be renamed. :lol:

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(Mrs. B @ Jan 10 2007, 10:06 AM)Made the same damn mistake the 1st time I tried this and no fresh hocks were available on Mt. Pleasant Street so I ended up with less than 1/4 of the necessary meat, threw the whole mess out. Picking from actual feet (rather than hocks) is a drag not ever to be repeated in this house. I think the recipe should be renamed. :lol:
Interesting...fortunately, we are serving this as an appetizer, so what we have will be enough. But I'm writing

something down in the book for next time.

ETA: nice edit of the subject line. :unsure:

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Well the heads thawed in three hours or so with a trickle in the sink.

One little ear peeking out of the sink:

heads001rd6.th.jpg

Let's roll!

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Heather wouldn't come document the butchering process, so let's skip to the results:

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Well, if it's just the cheeks alone, I wound up paying $21 per pound. As Heather muttered, "This had better be worth it."

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Of course if I include the tongue, it's $11 per pound. The tongues and cheeks came to very nearly the same weight.

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Remind me again why I did this operation on trash day? I don't want these in the garbage for another week. :lol:

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Lessons learned:

1. To remove the cheeks, first cut away the fatty membrane on the outside, then working with a small carving knife work under the muscle along the jawbone. The jawbone is flat for about 1.5" and then it takes a dive in towards the center of the head, so don't just cut straight across or you'll lose some meat.

2. There's a little nugget of similar meat on the inside of the jawbone as well. It's only about an ounce per side though.

3. When the head is split, the brains tend to fall out when it thaws.

4. The ear makes a reasonably good handle, and a thumb in the eye socket will help stabilize the head while you cut.

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And... Heather didn't want to document this?? Go figure!

3. When the head is split, the brains tend to fall out when it thaws.

4. The ear makes a reasonably good handle, and a thumb in the eye socket will help stabilize the head while you cut.

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3. When the head is split, the brains tend to fall out when it thaws.

4. The ear makes a reasonably good handle, and a thumb in the eye socket will help stabilize the head while you cut.

I swear to god....you kill me!! :lol: That could the funniest post I've read in a long time! :unsure:
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Speaking of pork (click image for original story):

Stamps released in China to celebrate the Year of the Pig taste of sweet and sour pork.

sweetnsourstamp.jpg

The stamps on sale in China to celebrate the country's New Year. The stamps taste of sweet and sour pork.

When you scratch the front of the stamps, it smells of the popular chinese dish and when the back of the stamp is licked it tastes of the dish too.

The stamps are on sale in China ahead of their New Year on February 18, reports Metro.

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Scott, you are just cracking me up with this whole thread. Which brings up the question: Why wasn't I invited to partake of your porcine magic? :lol:

As Heather says, hang in there. After all, you don't necessarily want to be the guinea pig (though I hear there's good eatin' on those) - wait until I might know what I'm doing. :unsure:

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Okay, that was pretty good. The trotters wound up about 1.5" in diameter and 3/4" thick, and for some reason they needed some time on the stove top after four minutes in the oven per the recipe, but they were fine. They were so unctuous and rich that they served well as an appetizer that enabled folks not to get restless while I fussed with the main course.

The cheeks were delicious and tender, and the braise gave it a good flavor, topped by a tasty prune vinegar. I was worried once I saw them that one cheek per person would be too little, but they turned out okay.

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