Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Miss Piggy Goes to Market

The sign read SALE! It was the largest pork leg I’ve ever seen, unattached to a pig. The thing weighed in at a touch under 23 pounds, and just two remained. How could I resist - especially when it was priced at only $1 a pound? 
(For those of you who think in metric, the beast weighed 10.440 kg and clocked in at $2.20 per kg. I repeat: How could I resist?)
When Ron saw me trying to wrest it from the meat counter at the supermarket, he rushed to my side with three little words: “You are insane!” I shot him a look that said: “Don’t mess with me, Bub. I’ve got a carving knife and know how to use it.”
Strapped in like an obese toddler, the pig rode shotgun in the car. Under his breath, Ron grumbled: “Good thing they didn’t have whole cows on sale.” One laser beam stare from Yours Truly silenced him.
“It’s all going to be fat and bone,” he whinged. But he was wrong. Just 10 pounds of it was fat and bone. The rest was mighty fine. 

It’s said you can use every part of the pig except the squeal, so I set out to determine if that were true. 
I quickly understood that I could never carve a whole pig. I’m not a butcher, and lack the skills, strength and desire to use the hoofs in glue, the tail hairs as a paint brush, the fat in soap, or the ears in silk purses. I’d pretty much met my match with this single leg. I procrastinated, but High Noon and the Gunfight at the OK Corral seemed to come all at once. It was me or the pig. I raised my knife and plunged it into the swine.  
The thing was sheathed in a half-inch layer of fat. I sawed my way through to find thinner layers of fat, gristle, and connective tissue. I sliced them away and prevailed! Two hours later, I emerged from the kitchen with a cornucopia of porcine delights tucked into my freezer. Today’s blog and subsequent postings will tell you about that. 
I’ve never met a pig I didn’t like (I’ve dated enough of ’em to know*). Today’s blog (subtitled How to Carve a Whole Pork Leg) may even take you places you’ve never been. Yeah, the pigs I used to date always said that, too ...

Fatter than a pregnant Jessica Simpson! 
I mean the pork leg, silly!

Slice away the sheath of fat with a very sharp knife

Cut the fat away in sections. Some people prize this  
"crackling" - I prefer to cook with less fat

With the fat removed, let your knife
follow the bone as you cut the meat
Save the smaller bits, continuing to 
trim away as much fat as possible

Carve what feels like a good-sized
roast for your needs ... There will
be several more!

Separate the roast from the leg; set aside

Carve another section into cubes suitable for stew

I netted a small mountain of cubed pork!

Slice some of the meat into chops

At last ... Down to the bones! 

All in all, the whole pork leg I could barely lift produced 3-¼ lb. cubed pork suitable for stew, 1 lb. of lean pork strips ideal for chow mein, 5 boneless pork chops weighing 1-¼ lb., one 2-½ lb. roast, a second roast weighing 1-¼ lb., two “pork tenderloins” (technically not tenderloins, which are found around the rib cage, but small, long roasts) weighing 1.1 lb. each, and one 2 lb. roast. 
I revisited the supermarket and recorded the per-pound and per-kilogram price of every cut I’d got from this leg. Then I did the math. Had I bought all this meat pre-cut, I would have paid a whopping $59.32 for it. My savings totaled $36.35. 
All cooks have guilty secrets. Mine is that I initially threw out the bone, being too tired from carving, weighing, packaging, and labeling everything to bother turning it into stock. But then I had second thoughts - after all, I’d wanted to use every part of the leg I could - and soon dug the bone from the fresh bag into which I’d so callously tossed it.

Seek and ye shall find!

Not a leg to stand on ... Now let's get to work and 
make something delicious from this!
I made a beautiful pork broth and soup from this bone, with both recipes featured tomorrow. Throughout this week and next, I’ll also publish the recipes for the many great dishes I made from this leg

Miss Piggy offers this very important reminder: Pork does not freeze as well as beef. Freeze raw pork roasts and chops no longer than four-to-six months; freeze raw beef roasts and steaks 6-to-12 months. I owe my good friend Lorna a heads up for that postscript! Now were cooking, Dollinks!
* Don’t get me wrong ... Most men are great! 

Postscript: Here’s the math!
Pork strips: $7.20 lb. or $15.85 kg (1 lb. x $7.20 = $7.20)
Cubed pork: $5.50 lb. or $12.10 kg (3-¼ lb. x $5.50 = $17.88)
Pork tenderloin: $8.41 lb. or $18.50 kg (2.2 lb. x $8.41 = $18.50)
Pork chops: $5.30 lb. or $11.66 kg (1-¼ lb. x $5.30 = $6.60)
Pork leg roasts: $1.59 lb. or $3.49 kg (5-¾ lb. x $1.59 = $9.14)
Total cost of these cuts: $7.20 + $17.88 + $18.50 + $6.60 + $9.14 = $59.32
Total cost of my pork leg: $22.97
Total savings: $59.32 - $22.97 = $36.35

No comments:

Post a Comment

Want to find a long-lost favorite recipe? Want to submit one of yours, or simply leave a comment? Always happy to hear from you!