By Dave Seel, Long Island Food Correspondent.
Recently, I had the opportunity to get a pig-butchering lesson at Benner's Farm in Setauket, NY, an educational farm for kids and adults. Benner's Farm is a working farm and the slaughtering of a pig around November is an annual occurence. They don't sell meat to the public, so it is solely used by the family.
Because I'm is a self-proclaimed food dork and was intrigued with the whole process, I was lucky enough to come home with the pig's head and two pork chops after my lesson was complete. From there, I undertook a 9 and a half-hour cooking marathon to make what is commonly called head cheese, or (and it sounds better in French) Le Fromage de Tete. The following photo essay documents my up-close-and-personal farm-to-table experience.
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES THAT MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR YOUNG READERS, VEGETARIANS, OR THOSE WHO WOULD RATHER NOT THINK ABOUT WHERE THEIR MEAT COMES FROM.
A Man & His Pig
Bob's Cornell Extension Butchering Information Bulletin
Half of a Pig's Belly & A Saws-All
Half of A Pig
Bob splitting the ribs from the pork chops
Ribs & bacon on the left. Pork Chops & Bacon on the right.
Splitting the ribs from the bacon
Ribs & Bacon
Cutting the pork chops
Slicing the pork chops
A Beautiful Pork Chop
A whole lot of pork
Prepping The Cure … Kosher Salt & Suger
Salt then Sugar
Bacon, ready to be cured
A Man & His Bacon
Half a pig broken down
Next…OFF WITH ITS HEAD!
Front Ham Hock & Head
Every Animal Has A Purpose
This is gonna take some work…
2 hours later…the pig's head is ready to be made into head cheese
Bay leaves, Thyme, Majoram, Pepper, and Cloves
Into the pot it goes…this is the biggest pot I have ever used in my life…
…After 2 hours of simmering
…After 5 Hours
…Another 2.5 Hours for the stock to reduce for gelatin
Meanwhile…I pick a part the head for meat…
Pour reduced broth over meat…put into fridge to chill and set…
And voila…Le Fromage de Tete
For a written essay on his experience, you can visit my blog,