One of the perks of living in a farm-ish town in New Zealand is that someone is always trying to get rid of some sort of meat from some sort of animal they have just slaughetered - because they themselves have run out of freezer space. Case in point: my auntie-in-law Roslyn called Shane last week to see if we were interested in buying half a pig from her. Of course we said yes, although I did have to think back when last I had visited her pigs and could this be one that I had seen and/or fed and/or had a connection with. I think I'm ok. I know it's a bit juvenile to be a chef and to worry about things like that still, but I still struggle with the idea of raising something considered a "pet", and then one day having someone come by and shoot it in the head, bleed it, and there. Dinner. But it's what people do out here and I have the utmost respect for it - because their animals have the best animal lives ever. Really, I mean, their worst day on Earth is their last day on Earth. I think there are people who don't even get that treatment.
So anyway, we've said yes to this half-a-pig and I've never seen Shane so excited. It's like he's won the meat lotto. Not only do we get this half-a-pig (sorry, I just like saying it - read it like "haffapig" - that's how I'm saying it), but we also get to pick what cuts we want the butcher to do for us. So we decided on the following:
Shoulder to be cured and cut as bacon
Baby Back Ribs (duh)
Pork Belly (duh)
Hind leg to be cut up into three roast portions
So I'm pretty stoked. This whole thing has made me feel pretty damn sustainable. Like I'm just a little bit better than you. But just a little.
So yesterday was the big day - our bacon had been cured, everything cut and ready to go. Shane woke up like a kid on Christmas morning to go claim his best present ever. He happily brings home his booty and gets even more excited when it all actually fits in the freezer.
Now, there's some things he didn't tell me about. Or at least I wasn't exactly aware of. Not only did we become the proud owners of haffapig, whom I've named Lenny, Lenny Haffapig, we've also got a lot of little...extras. Little Lenny bonuses. Like a bunch of extra bones. That's cool, I make stock so that's fine. The tail. I wasn't really expecting the tail. Why does this bother me? Well it didn't until Shane brought it out and started waving it around in my face. We gave it to Olive, who must have also thought it was Christmas again. I'm not sure what she's done with it now, but it's gone. So then I tell Shane to take out a roast for dinner tonight (man I sound like a fucking farmer's wife, dont' I?). So we have this roast defrosting in the sink, which is all wrapped up still so neither of us really paid too much attention to it until it was time to pop it in the oven.
Pork leg roast? Nope.
Pork head? Yes. Pork head with snout and little ears and little closed eyes like it's sleeping? Little Lenny Haffapig having a nice little afternoon nap? Yes.
Well shit. I know most people would throw that thing out with the garbage and hope to the heavens they never open their bin again until trash day. Which is exactly what I want to do. I am fighting the urge to throw Lenny's head into someone else's dumpster and run like hell.
But, alas, I'm a chef. I am a CHEF. Most chefs would feel blessed to have this beautiful bounty to work with. Head cheese, pork cheeks, pig ears, all sorts of hidden shit in there to eat. Plus, I can't be all smuggly sustainable if I throw out a perfectly edible cut of...meat...head..meat, whatever. If I throw it out that means Lenny died a bit in vain. And we can't have that.
So it's in the fridge looking at me. And I'm looking back. Lenny? What would you like your head to become? I think he'd like to be braised pig cheek ravioli. I'm drawing the line with this - I don't have a saw so I can't cut the skull in half to do the whole head cheese thing.
I'll keep you guys posted. I can't believe I'm going to cut Lenny's face off. I don't think I have it in me to do it tonight. But when I do you'll be the first to hear about it.
This post was brought to you by Lenny. Lenny Haffapig.