About a week and a half ago I was relaxing on my couch with a glass of wine in hand...Ipod playing my oh so random mix of music and reading whatever book happened to be on my table that night. Contemplated making dinner for myself, but was uninspired, relaxed and quite frankly a bit lazy because it was just me at home. Brock was out with the boys for the day, golfing in a tournament and would be home late....so I thought.
At 8:30 the phone rings and it is my sweetie, all fired up!
Him "Babe! What are you doing?"
Me "Couch, book, wine"
Him "Get your grubbies on, we got a pig!"
Me "OK, ready in 5!"
Now I will translate.
We have a friend with a ranch in Ventura who allows and encourages Brock and a few other guys to come and hunt wild boar on the property. The land up behind Foothill Road from Casitas Springs to Santa Paula boasts a huge number of animals ranging from mule deer, black bear, mountain lion, bobcat and the aforementioned wild boar. Most people in Ventura have never seen these and probably prefer not to in most cases. We, however are a different kind of family.
I grew up with a Daddy who hails from the Midwest and grew up hunting for fun as well as to put food on the table for his family of 11. I not only enjoy cooking and eating wild game, but also hunting it on occasion. From a health perspective, most wild game is better for you than the meat in any grocery store. Leaner, grass or "brush" fed, lacking artificial hormones or antibiotics it is mother natures best showcase of "organic" meats. There are sometimes drawbacks with wild game such as the telltale "gamey" flavor that comes with many animals or the lack of fat and marbling that comes from intentionally fattening up an animal. But dependant upon age, diet, sex (seriously-girls are better in most cases) and how it is cooked game meats can outshine feedlot animals any day of the week. I will take a slightly gamey venison steak over a corn fed, pen raised, hormone added beef steak any day.
OK...off my soap box for now!
To most of you this is alien, foreign and quite possibly off putting, for me it is normal and quite frankly kind of exciting. I went up to the ranch with Brock and our buddy and was present for the slaughter of the hog which I will spare you the details of....but I will tell you that my little head was filled with visions.....ooooohhhhhh the possibilities. I think I sat and stared at the pig for a good hour just making sure I knew exactly what I wanted.
Not since culinary school have I been presented with an animal that I could pretty much do whatever I wanted with and to it. Brock was bowing to my superior knowledge of cuts and processing and went so far as to call me at work when he was at the butcher to make sure that nothing was missed or cut incorrectly.
Tenderloins & loins...both whole for chops and medallions. Ribs-baby back for the BBQ and country style for slow cooking. Foreshanks, whole for braising. Shoulders, butt (ham) and any additional meat and fat portioned out in 4-5 pound packages so I can make sausage out of it.
Yesterday he brought the meat home in vacuum sealed packages and proudly showed me all of the different cuts that we were going to be able to "play" with over the next month or so.
Is it any surprise that I whipped out my sausage cookbook tonight and am flagging recipes? Italian (sweet & hot!) of course, Bratwurst is a must, Chorizo a strong possibility, Loukaniko, Andouille....oh my sweet Lord the possibilities are endless.
So sometime in the next week I will be firing up the Kitchenaid meat grinder and sausage stuffer and making my very own homemade sausages.
I know this makes me sound like a huge dork, but I am so excited. :)