Almost two years ago, a few weeks after I came back to Post Ranch, I brought in two whole pigs from Carmel Valley. For me, the most important thing about whole animal butchery is respecting the animal and using as much of it as possible. After meticulously breaking it down and setting aside separate projects, I instructed someone on the next steps. When I returned a day later I was horrified to see the meat thrown haphazardly into the freezer because the person was "too busy" to complete the task. What should have been treated with respect had instead been destroyed, discarded into a frozen pile of failure. The incident was so traumatizing that I refused to order any more whole pigs, until now. Every portion of the pig has a use. For these particular pigs we did the following:
- Loins and Tenderloins - Pan Roasted for dinner - lightly brined with white soy and ginger
- Front Legs and Scraps - Fresh sausage for breakfast with pineapple sage and pink peppercorns from the North ridge
- Back Legs (Big Sur Hams) - Cured with wild black sage and redwood then smoked with eucalyptus, oak and mushrooms
- Bones - Smoked for four hours then made into stock
- Heads - Cooked in stock then cleaned and turned into a "head cheese"
For the final presentation of this dish Elizabeth made a red banyuls aioli and pickled mustard seeds to pair with toasted country bread and tiny root vegetables. I was really happy with the way the dish came out- because it elevates a dish from something people might turn their noses up at, to a refined presentation with juxtaposing textures and flavors that harmonize
perfectly with the rich headcheese.