Ah pork. Undoubtedly my favourite meat, there is yet to be a cut of pork that I simply do not enjoy. So it was an absolute no brainer when Mrs Shack presented me with a Ginger Pig butchery course voucher for my birthday last year that I gleefully booked the pork course.
The Ginger Pig outline the course as;
"It’s said that you can eat everything on a pig except for it’s squeak, and our butchers can certainly demonstrate as they take you through all the cuts. You’ll discover where your morning bacon comes from, what goes into our sausages, and which cuts will give you the best crackling. The class will centre around boning, rolling and tying a piece of pork loin, with whatever you create going home with you".
This is an absolute understatement. I was literally like a pig in shit for the entire course, If you excuse the pun.
The Ginger pig are extremely selective with the breeds which they rear, butcher and sell in their stores. On the day I attended we were working with a massive Tamworth pig which in live state are bright ginger in colour, hence The Ginger Pig.
The Tamworth originates in its namesake Tamworth, with input from Irish pigs. Tamworths are much slower to mature than most commercial breeds, meaning that they build up great intramuscular fat which marbles the meat – and fat means flavour! The fat covering is ideal for curing but quintessentially produces THE BEST crackling I have ever had.
The sad fact about Tamworths is that following the Second World War consumer tastes were changing and demanding leaner cuts of meat. Commercial breeds took over as farmers were urged to keep more productive pigs resulting in the decline of the Tamworth. In fact, the Tamworth is still classed as “at risk” by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust despite the vast improvement in the number of registered pedigree Tamwoths being kept. Choosing Tamworth meat does not only mean you get some lip smackingly good pork on your plate, but you also help to keep the breed alive. As if I needed another reason to eat bacon!
I turned up to the course bright and early and the doors were locked. Hell, I was really early. Through the window I could see half of the entire length of a massive pig, head and all staring at me. "you're mine" I thought to myself.
Shortly after I was met by the Course Instructors Daniel and George and a tray of steaming sausage rolls the size of a small baby and was warned, "there's plenty more food to come".
When my fellow butchery novices arrived we donned our aprons ready for work. We had the standard safety chat, don't hold the sharp end of the knife etc and we were ready to rock and roll.
George went through the pig anatomy from head to tail explaining the various cuts and where they came from. Audience participation was required to butcher the pig including the head, ribs, shoulder, belly, legs, trotters, even the tail all whilst George explained the produce as a result of the cut.
He even told us about secret cuts which have gone out of fashion due to modern trends of cooking. If you wanna be in the know then you'll have to get yourself on the course as secrets are secrets now I am in the brotherhood of butchery. Loose lips sink ships don't you know.
All participants were presented with their take home pork loin which we had to bone, roll and tie ourselves as well as seasoning with salt, pepper, garlic and fennel.
Now me being me didn't read all that was entailed in the course before attending and had a pork pie and can of monster on the train up to the course thinking that was my dinner for the night. Oh no. Not the case at all. Daniel, that wonderful man cooked an entire roast of pork with rock hard crunchy crackling accompanied with a creamy potato dauphinoise and a delicious surprise for dessert.
The wine flowed and I made some good pals. All whilst standing in a butchers shop that I had just butchered a pig in. Nothing quite says manly like this experience although truth be told the best butcher in our class was a woman.
I really can't say enough good things about this course, in fact I'm on the waiting list now to do a full butchery course at my local college. No doubt you will get a blow by blow account on "Jacksmeatshack goes back to School".
The Ginger Pig has a number of other courses including Beef, Poultry, sausages as well as others. To have a looksee for yourself hit the link here. I'm hoping Mrs Shack comes through this Birthday for myself...