Charcuterie & Odd Bits

Thank you so much for all your kind responses to my last post – I’m really glad you all enjoyed it so much!

After the slaughter on Tuesday night, we kept working an hour or two each day, to pack all the primal cuts in salt (more on that later, I promise), and freeze a few things (ribs!  amazing!).  I rendered a lot of lard.  A lot.  And I’m still working on it! (I render lard by cutting fatback into large chunks, putting it in the crockpot with 1/4 cup of water, and letting it cook on low for most of the day.  Towards the end, I crack the lid to let the water escape – it keeps the fat from burning at the beginning.  Then, I strain it, and put it in the freezer.  Fantastic for cooking with – and a good natural source of Vitamin D!)

On Saturday, we told lots of friends that we would be cooking up various odd bits and making some yummy charcuterie, and invited them to join the fun.  We started at about 11 in the morning, and went on until about 9 pm.  First, I got started on the Presskopf or Pate de Tete (headcheese).   Lots of parts had been sitting in an herbed brine, waiting to be used for this.

I skinned the trotters (feet) and when the first friend arrived, he helped me skin the head (which had been cut in half, and had the tongue taken out).  Head, tongue, trotters, snout – it all went into a big stockpot with herbs, celery, and carrots, and just enough water to cover, and then we simmered it all day.  After a few hours, we took out the tongue and trotters.  A friend took the skin off the tongue and chopped it up into small pieces – all the kids loved it and kept saying “More tongue! more tongue!”  We took the meat off the trotters, too.  (I mostly used the recipe from Forgotten Skills for this – she calls it Brawn).

Once the Pate de Tete was simmering, some friends started cleaning out the sausage casings (small intestines).  After soaking them for days, we untied the ends, let water run through them, and ran our fingers down them, helping to strip out the lining.  As you can see, this was not a torturous task, lol.

We set those aside once they were cleaned, and started chopping apples and onions for the blood sausage and pate.  I looked at recipes from Forgotten Skills, Charcuterie, and Salumi, and sort of made up my own for these.  If anyone wants the recipes, I’ll try to remember them and post them :)  By now, everyone was ready for lunch – we cut up some of the bacon into lardons and sauteed them with mushrooms and onions.  We had roasted butternut squash, and lentils . . .  and by then, the smoked pork shoulder was ready to eat!  We had dry rubbed an entire front shoulder with yummy spices a few days before, smoked it briefly, then slow cooked it in the oven.  At this point in the day, there were only 4 adults and 3 small children (and a baby) present, so I thought we wouldn’t make much of a dent on such a huge piece of meat.  Wrong!  It would be pretty accurate to say that we mauled the entire shoulder, and by the time another friend arrived about 30 minutes later, there were only a few shreds of meat left.  (Sorry, Carrie!)


We sauteed the onions until soft, then sauteed the apples.  For the pate and sausage, I mixed up some allspice, nutmeg, and ginger (quatre epices, except I didn’t have any white pepper).  For the pate, we used our new sausage grinder to grind fatback and some meat up.  We also ground some liver, although it might have been sufficient to chop it (it sort of pureed in the grinder).  We added onions, apple, cream, eggs,my spice blend, and salt.  We fried up a little bit to make sure the seasonings were right.  I must say that even though he’s a huge fan of chicken liver pate and foie gras, for some reason Ben was skeptical about how good the pig liver pate would be.  Maybe because it’s uncommon.  However, as soon as he taste-tested it for seasoning, he was completely in love with it (and so was everyone else at the party, some of whom don’t usually eat liver).  We had a lot of pate (and didn’t even use the whole liver – I kept some to eat sliced and fried) – probably 4 quarts.  We filled up a  bowl to bake for dinner, and lots of mason jars for the freezer and friends.  We baked it in a water bath at 300 F until it was 150 in the center.  Amazing, and so nourishing.

We made the blood sausage after dinner – pigs blood, cream, eggs, spice blend, and ground fat.  It was supposed to fit through this funnel into the casing, but our mixture was too chunky, so we used the sausage stuffer.

Holy moly, this made a huge mess!  Blood literally flew all over the kitchen, which was luckily pretty hilarious.  We stuffed the casings, tied them, and then poached them.  At that point, they can either be refrigerated for use in a few days, frozen for later, and fried in a pan to crisp the skin when they’re ready to be eaten.  We had to try one of course, even though everyone was ridiculously stuffed at that point.  Delicious!

Yes, my kitchen got completely covered in pork fat and blood, but it was totally worth it.  (I’m still finishing up the pate de tete.)  This was such a fun day, making so many unusual treats and sharing the experience with good friends.  I’m so grateful to everyone who came, grateful for all the incredible bounty we have to share, and grateful to share it here!

2 Responses to “Charcuterie & Odd Bits”

  1. 1

    Wow that is incredible, I really enjoyed reading about this, thank you for sharing, I think it’s wonderful that you are being so resourceful and not letting any food part go to waste. Reminds me of butcher time in the Little House on the Prairie books. I’m looking forward to reading more.

  2. 2

    Thanks so much!

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