Musings · Pork

Nothing Says I Love You Like Boiling Up the Head of a Pig

After running a bunch of errands this morning, I’m right this very minute finishing up a bialy and psyching myself up for the next step on the road to headcheese.

And scrapple.  As part of our portion of Boris (my husband has named the deceased), we received the liver.  It’s huge.  But then, compared to chicken livers, I’m sure lots of other livers are huge.

Anyway, after I wrote this post yesterday and linked to it on Facebook and Twitter, the first comment I read (on fb) was from Ruth Ann, who asked if I was going to make scrapple.  And no, I hadn’t even planned to, but then I really wondered why I hadn’t thought of scrapple.

I LOVE scrapple!  I couldn’t eat it every day, it’s so rich and fatty and decadent.  But if I make some, and then freeze it, and portion it out maybe once a month….I’ll have scrapple for the rest of my life! 

Okay, not that long.  But for a while.  So that’s the plan for today now – in a few minutes I’m going to go rinse off Boris and his tongue (we’re assigning gender here; I don’t know what it was in life) and put them in a HUGE pot (one Bill uses for brewing beer) outside on a big propane burner and simmer it for around 3 hours with aromatics and some wine.  I’ll also be cooking up the liver, but I’m doing that separately and inside. 

I’ll be taking pictures along the way, of course, but I think I’m going to wait until various things have been completed before I post anything.  I don’t want to just put up gratuitous Look It’s A Pig Head! images.  That would be…flippant.  And disrespectful.  To the pig.  I know, naming the pig head “Boris” may not seem respectful, but I think not acknowledging that the meat we eat was once a living, breathing creature is even more disrespectful.  The meat we buy wrapped in plastic and styrofoam is not magically created by elves dressed like butchers.  It starts out alive, someone kills it, someone cuts it up into smaller pieces, and we buy it and cook it and eat it.  I know people that won’t eat any sort of bone-in meat.  No ribs.  No T-bones.  No wings.  Because they think it’s icky or gross.  But just because your steak doesn’t have a bone in it doesn’t mean it didn’t come from a living, breathing cow.  Boneless skinless chicken breast still came from a chicken. 

It’s my feeling that if you can’t mentally and emotionally and ethically come to terms with that, then you shouldn’t eat meat.  For me, I find myself taking it one step further and asking myself – could I kill an animal in order to eat it?  Because maybe we’re not wielding the weapon, but any time we buy that plastic packaged boneless piece of meat, we are participating in the kill.  We just don’t want to think about it, so we remove as many reminders as we can – no bone…no skin…no feathers, fur, hide, feet, or faces. 

But meat is really cow.  It’s pig.  Goat.  Chicken.  Turkey.  Duck.  Fish.  Alive, then dead.  We need to face that and respect the animal.  Respect the life that was taken so that we can eat. 

Boris was raised with plenty of elbow room, he (or she) was fed good, real food and no hormones or chemicals.  Boris came from a small farm, not a factory farm.  Boris had a good life.  And we are grateful that parts of Boris will sustain our family for months to come.

Would I want to be the one to kill an animal for food?  Not really.  But I don’t think it’s a question of want.  It’s a practical matter.  And if we had a farm, if we were raising animals for the purpose of eating them, then I would sure as hell make sure I was part of the killing.  I would see it as my duty to follow the whole thing through to the end.  Again, I think that’s the most respectful thing to do.

We go fishing.  I have killed my share of fish.  I have killed my share of lobsters and crabs and shellfish.  And I know, a trout isn’t nearly as cute as a mammal or a chicken.  And I didn’t raise that trout from a caviar, either.  But…if I raised an animal for food, it would be my job, my responsibility, my duty not to look the other way and hand off that huge, final act to someone else.

That’s just me.

And those are the thoughts I’ve had as I put off lifting the huge Head of Boris out of that five gallon bucket to rinse and cook.  It’s huge, folks.  And it’s going to be cold – COLD! – and wet and unwieldy.  But I am determined to get this part of the job under way before Bill comes home. 

Here I go.

4 thoughts on “Nothing Says I Love You Like Boiling Up the Head of a Pig

  1. I agree! When we were first married, I made sure I was around when the meat processor came to my FIL’s house to slaughter (and skin, gut, etc.) our beef. I almost didn’t make it through the process, but kind of felt I owed it to the steer if I was going to be eating him later. I haven’t hung around for any other visits by the processors, but I don’t feel guilty about eating our delicious small farm beef, either!

  2. You can do it!!! I just helped with processing 4 roosters that we had hatched and raised ourselves. Dh did the ugly deed but I helped with the gutting, etc. They are now snug in the freezer waiting for us to eat them up. It was hard for our first time but hopefully things will get easier each time. I am glad we started with a small manageable number and it didn’t hurt things that they were practically killing the hens with their “attentions”. So they had to go! We have already eaten one and it made the most gelatinous stock I have ever made, couldn’t believe it. Looked like chicken jello. I even saved and cleaned the innards and feet! I don’t want to waste anything from the precious animals!

  3. Amen! If there’s one thing in this world I would love to do before I die – it’s animal husbandry. I myself appreciate the food that I do get/eat, and I would have no problem in the slaughter of any animal that I raise for food. My boyfriend? Not so much. He doesn’t even want me to keep chickens for eggs… heh heh.
    For one I cannot wait to see your progress in the various preparation of this animal. Go go go!

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