(BOSTON BUTT & PICNIC HAM)
depending on how you have decided to prepare your chops, you either have removed the loin or will take the loin once the shoulders and belly are removed.
to remove the shoulders, loo to where the flaps of the belly attach to the 'underarm' of the pig. cut a line, keeping as much to the belly portion as possible and follow the cut right up into where the leg meets the body. if you move the leg around a bit, you will be able to see and feel where the shoulder blade is attached to the body, cut in behind here.
when following this joint you should be able to trace strait up to the base of the armbone and detach the entire front leg portion by getting your knife between the joint and wiggling it free. once removed, place the entire pork shoulder on the cutting table and repeat with the opposite side
once you have both shoulders lying on the table, place them with the outer leg facing down and the inner legs facing up. i usually flip them a few time to orientate myself on the locations of the bone and muscle placement of the pig. there is a white seam that runs between the shank half and the butt half, place your knife directly over this seem and then angle you knife so that the line and the line of your blade together form a 'V'. this is a difficult cut and basically you are trying to seperate the leg at the point where there is a single thin bone. this meythod is an estimation and it can vary somewhat from animal from animal. So,if all else fails, feel the mucsles around this joint until you beleive you have found the correct spot to easily cut through. once you get to the bone, use a hand saw or electric saw to cut through the bone.
you can also use the band saw for this f your roast are on the smaller side. the hand saw is easier if you have cut through at the right place and right down to the bone.
both the picnic ham and the boston butt are ready to be packaged and stored or cooked. if you choose to debone these items, which is a subject for anouther day, be prepared to perform that task a few times before you yeild a lovely roast that folds neatly in on itself. for this tutorial, you are better off enjoying the roasts bone in. the picnic ham is great for sunday dinners or small get togethers. it cooks similar to the shank hams bought in the store, but more quickly as it is a smaller size. smoking this roast is also a good option before cooking or even to use as sanwhich meat.
the pork butt is a phenominal cut for making pulled pork (BBQ!!!!!!) the meat is well marbled and the roast itself is a great big lump of smaller muscles coming together. this creates a wonderful meat for slow cooking and shredding. i have also cubed pork butts and used in stew or stirfry. anouther option is cutting the butt down to the 'Cellar Cut' which is the trimmed peice of meat used to makes the cured meats known as 'Lonza' and 'Prosecctio' (that is again, for anouther post).
Next lets remove the best part of the pig, the belly/bacon. at this point you have a removed the skin, the head, the tenderloins, the chops (if completing bonelessly), and the shoulders. what you will have haning in frony of you now is two hind legs attached to a spine with ribs and a belly flap.
that belly flap, is gold. look to where it attaches to the hind legs and cut it away from them. go up the abdomin of the pig until you hit the ribs. then trace the flap of meat down the edge of the pig and detatch. repeat on the opposite side.
lay these to peices on your cutting table and look at where the grain is. i will normally split each side into 2 peices to be smoked or cooked at seperate times. if these peices are to big, cut them long wise to reduce the number of bacon slices that will come from the cut, but not shorten the length of each slide of bacon.
this is an easy job and the sizes and shapes are up to you. i usually square off my peices and add the scrap to my grind meat for extra flavor.
Short ribs, baby back, riblets, country style, st. louis cut, here is the stuff of BBQ dreams. ribs, while they come under a large variety of names, are actually very simple and strait forward to porcess from the animal.
as was mentioned earlier, at this point you have "two hams, and a spine with ribs" hanging from your lift. the simple as pie solution now is to wedge you knife between the first vertabra visible from the hams and sperate the section of the pig that consists of the spine and ribs. bring this to your cutting table
lay the ribs spine up on the table and split down the middle to seperate into two seperate portions. if you leave these two peices whole they are considered untrimmed spare ribs. if you trim the bottom (where the breast bone is) off to make the spare ribs even across, the spare ribs become 'St. Louis' cut ribs and the smaller section you removed is the rib tips, which are excellent for sauce and soup.
if you go one step furture and even out the other end of the st. louis ribs , the section you remove will be the 'baby back ribs' these tend to be lean on the meat, but are a sounthern staple for slow cooking, smoking and BBQ. when cooked right these babys are dynamite. personally i like to leave them part of my spare ribs and use the tips for spagetti sauce.
One other cut you can acheive with the ribs, is 'country style ribs' these can be done bonelessly or bone-in, these ribs are actually loin meat and not much of the ribs themselves. i prefer to avoid these ribs because they compromise the loin end roasts or pork chops, but some prefer these to to roasts. to excute these ribs you need to leave the loin attached to the spine. you split the spine as you would normally and then remove the loin section of the ribs, keeping the ribs below attached to the loin itself. lay this peice of meat out flat and cut down through the meat to divid each rib. to have boneless country style ribs, you can either debone this peice of meat, or in a less percise execution, take a loin roast, butterfly it and cut boleless 'ribs' into the meat.
Here is the most common holiday roast. ever. the hams are what gets smoked and wrapped at the store and glaze, baked and drooled over at large holiday get togethers. the size of your hams will be directly reflective of how big your pig was. raise a 150lb pig, it might be a managable family sized meal with leftovers for sandwhichs. raise yourself some 300lb porker and your going to need to invite the jones, the potters, the smiths and maybe even uncle harry over for dinner if you want to finish the thing off. the hams, or the back legs are traditionally split into two peices the butt ham and the shank ham. from below the shank ham, you remove the leg and divide it in too, the top is called the 'hock' (look out split pea soup!!!!) and the bottom part that looks like the foot, is indeed the 'foot' (pickled pigs feet anyone?)
once the spine is removed all you have left hanging is the back legs. since each leg should be individually secured, you will be ok to split the pelvic bone that connects the two sides. to do this you can use a hand saw, or the much easier electric saw. i will usually split the bone and leave one leg hanging while i tend to the other.
do keep in mind that if you had skinned the pig, the hams are going to seem 'loose' and not hold together in the manner that your hams from the grocery store would. you can leave the hams as they are, net them or tyie them with butchers twine.
your next step would be either the smoker, the freezer, the oven or a curing process.
The Jowls of a pig are often a forgotten gift. the meat from this area of the pig is almost identical and completely interchangeable with the belly (aka the bacon).
i usually reserve the jowls to accompany the meat for my head cheese, but seperating it to smoke for delicous breakfast meat is perfectly acceptable as well.
The Head is for HeadCheese and i have the recipe below
there are recipes that also include the ears in Head Cheese, but the cleaning process for ears is daunting and i found my head cheese succeeded with out them.
The Hocks are wonderful for smoking, or leaving fresh, then using for soup stocks, pork and beans, tomato sauces or split pea soup. i would actually leave the skin on the hocks and feet and boild water to dip and scrap clean. these peices of meat are often used for their high flavor and collogen content. alot of that content is found in the skin.
The Feet are reserved for jellies pigs feet, i do have a friend who requests the feet when we butcher for this particular purpose, but i have not yet processed feet with him.