So, it's the greatest day of the year; no, I am not speaking of Christmas, Halloween or even St. Patrick's Day (a close second). My friends I am speaking of National Pig Day, a tradition that has been going on for the last 39 years! Today is the day we look at our portly friends with eyes not only filled with hunger but also admiration. So brothers and sisters with our universal bacon bond, let us reflect on the perfection that is the pig!
I personally am no stranger to the pig and I show my obvious obsession broadly across my hands!
Our un-kosher friend is frowned upon in some cultures and there is only one thing I can say to them; MORE FOR ME! I have sat down with several chefs throughout the years and a common conversation that almost always comes up is the glorification of the pig. So what makes the pig so perfect of a vessel for the culinary universe? I am going to hit three major areas; versatility, flavor, and cost.
To begin with, the pig, like most animals has the major primal cut areas that produce the best products know to the universe, in my mind anyways. Take a look at this diagram:
1)Chine/Neck, 2)Shoulder, 3)Foreleg, 4)Cutlet/Loin, 5)Forerib/Lean Meat, 6)Belly, 7)Ham/Hind Quarter, 8)Hindleg
There are a few more areas such as the jowl, cheek, feet, ears, etc, all with edible areas but mainly I just wanted to show the many different cuts that can be taken from a pig. Some of the choicest areas have to be the shoulder, loin, and belly! The shoulder is traditionally slow smoked, braised, roasted, pretty much the works to create beautiful pulled or chopped pork found in BBQ, no matter what kind your preference (This chef lives for Carolina BBQ). The belly can be cured and turned into beautiful home fresh bacon as well as used in stews, pretty much anything that can render its beautiful amount of fat content. And of course the loin, which everyone considers the king of cuts, can be cooked in almost any way and unless you are just inexperienced, will come out juicy and delicious. These different cuts have such a variety of flavors that the pig is a universal tool in the kitchen, especially in good southern food the way my Granny used to make it. There is a world of difference in taste from a pork chop to a ham slice, as bacon is to pig's cheek. With different textures, tastes, and fat contents, the pig can pretty much be paired with anything else to enhance a dish! PLUS pork products generally cost less than most cuts of meat, such as beef, venison, and veal.
The pig is truly the king of meats in my mind, hell I butchered a pig today just in honor of the day. So think about your other white meat friend today and partake in some of its offerings! Continue to follow me on Twitter @ChefGrantKeaton and on Facebook, and stay tuned for more blogs. Until then readers, FOLLOW THE FLAVOR!