If you are one of my lovely vegan/vegetarian friends, you can probably just stop reading. I’ll post something more for you soon, I promise. But this is a mixed eater household, and this post is all about the meats!
I had already been slowly restocking my meat supply during the last two grocery runs (over the last month), but today we took a giant leap forward. When the first meat plant closure was announced due to Covid-19, I got nervous, so I made sure to add a few extra meat items to my grocery order that week. As a result, I have a giant pork shoulder just waiting to be smoked and a very healthy supply of chicken and ground pork. Two weeks ago, I again added a little more chicken, a tri-tip and bacon. We are about ready for our next grocerty trip, so I figured I would add some more this coming week. Keep in mind, we cook 2-3 meat dinners a week when we don’t have the vegetarian kiddo, and we occasionally throw a side of meat in for us with an otherwise vegetarian meal. It’s not just piling up. I just pick up 1-2 extra things to add to my stash.
Yesterday, my husband stumbled on an article about a company in our area that normally sells to restaurants and has put together some meat bundles they are selling to the public because, you know, restaurants aren’t buying as much currently. He was hesitant, but I pushed that credit card at him and told him to order it fast. With that article coming out, I was pretty sure we had a limited window. And I was right. They had to suspend their online ordering today due to high demand!
Our box came today, and it was so heavy that I could not physically carry it up our stairs. My husband, who has upper body strength, was able to get it upstairs, so I didn’t have to carry it piece by piece! I opened the box, and I felt my heart do a cartwheel. I spent 3 1/2 hours processing meat, but I could not have been happier. It may have been one of the best afternoons I have had while in quarantine.
First, we moved the chickens from their bags and into freezer bags. Three whole chickens went in the freezer, and one went into a saltwater brine in the fridge to be cooked on Sunday. I had already planned on roasting a chicken when we placed the order, so I just didn’t take the chicken we had out of the freezer. Also, this is an Amish chicken, so way better for roasting. We also put about 2lbs of polish sausage in the freezer and 1lb in the refrigerator for dinner this week.
Next, I tackled the brisket. It was about 12lbs. I googled. I watched a couple of Youtube videos. I consulted the husband on how much we wanted to cook at any one time. Eventually, I cut the point off. Then I cut the flat into two portions that were about 3lbs each, just the right amount for the two of us. And I can always thaw both if we have the meat eating kid and friends around. This one was pretty easy.
I then took on the pork shoulder. This mammoth weighed 14lbs. Again, Youtube is my friend. I also read a couple of blogs on the subject and looked up images and diagrams. Much to my relief, when I removed the plastic, my shoulder was already separated into the Boston Butt and picnic portions. I cut the butt in half so that there was a boneless roast and a bone-in (you know, where all the flavor is). I then decided to debone the picnic before dealing with it. More Youtube videos had to happen. I also had to find the one knife in my house closest to a boning knife. I really should have taken the ones offered to me a while back by my father-in-law. In the end, I wound up with 2 more roasts and 8 pork shoulder steaks. I also ended up with a gallon size bag of pork fat which will later be rendered to make lard, and of course, the pork bone went into my existing pork bone bag for making broth.
Finally, I had 10lbs of pork belly. I actually had almost negotiated a pork belly drop with a buddy who is a butcher or butcher apprentice. There’s probably something punishable if I get that wrong. Anyway, he works in a grocery meat department and posts videos of himself cutting meat. But I digress. That pork belly would have been very expensive, as he works in a chic place, so I was only going to do like 3lbs. So this hulking beast on my counter was heaven! I cut 8lbs of it up into approximately 1lb chucks and wrapped them in plastic wrap and then filled a 2 gallon freezer bag. The last 2lbs are in my refrigerator waiting to be sliced and turned into bacon this weekend! I might try some other recipes, but there is a good chance all that belly becomes bacon in MY belly!
A couple of lessons were learned in today’s meat adventures. First, I do not have proper knives if I am going to get serious about butchering my own meat. I knew this from deboning chicken thighs, but today it was super clear. Second, kiss your butcher. That is some majorly physical work. I mean, they typically have better equipment and tools, but just lugging a 15lb slab of meat around is a workout. Finally, this is how meat should be done! Yes, I need to learn more before I try to do something like breakdown a whole pig, but buy in bulk or restaurant size portions, and then cut it to your taste!