The COOK Club cookbook of the month, The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Cookery, is an interesting book to read. As I was going through it to find our next recipe, I ran across some interesting things I wanted to share with you .
When I was little, we always kept pigs. I would make them my “pets” and name them, especially when I was very small, never really realizing what was going to happen to them as they got bigger! All that changed when my older brother (who never tired of teasing me) explained it in great detail to me, with much glee, I must admit.
As much as I hated hearing about it, I have to tell you the end result was delicious. Fresh sausage, smoked barbecue, bacon, pork roast – and being able to help with the processing – all of this and more made it a memorable experience.
I do remember the lesser liked parts of the pig as well. In particular, we had an elderly neighbor who loved pig brains and the tail. When we would process our pigs, we always went down to her house to take her both of these items. She would be so excited, telling us how she was going to have “scrambled eggs and brains” for breakfast the next morning! As a child, I remember feeling sick at the thought. Now, it’s a reminder to me of how folks would use every part but the squeal!
In the cookbook, the folks from the mountains the authors spoke to had suggestions of how to use every part of the pig. Here are a few examples:
TONGUE: Clean by pouring boiling water over it and scraping it. Then boil until tender in a little salt water, with pepper added if you wish. Slice and serve.
BRAIN: Most of our contacts put the hog’s brains in hot water to loosen the veil of skin covering them. Then they would boil them in 1 cup of water, adding salt and pepper to taste while stirring. When cooked, they were mashed with a potato masher and usually scrambled with eggs. There were others who would let the brains stand in cold water for one to two hours, then drain them and remove any unwanted fibers. The brains were cooked the same as above.
SNOUT: The snout is often cleaned and roasted. One contact, Mann Norton, said, “Lot of people throwed away that they called the rooter. Oh, I forbid that. I’d rather have that as any part of the hog. Oh, that’s good eating.”
HEART: None of our contacts used the heart by itself. Neither did any of them throw it away, though. Some cleaned it and canned it with backbones and ribs for use later in stews. Some boiled the heart, backbone, and lights (lungs) together for stew, and one contact boiled heart, tail, kidneys and tongue together for stew.
LIGHTS (LUNGS): Nowhere did we run into as much difference of opinion as with this item. One said, “It’s very good – VERY good.” Another said, “Lots of folks like the lights, but I never did.” There were a few recipes, such as, “Cook them down to the consistency of a gravy, mash and serve.” These cannot be kept if there are any left. Another one chopped up the lights with the liver and tongue, added a chopped onion, red pepper, and salt and cooked until tender.
STOMACH: Cut the stomach free of intestines, split, and wash out well. Scrape it down and put in salt water for 3 days. Then rinse, cut up, and cook like chitlins. Most of our contacts also removed the inside layer when cutting it up prior to frying.
Those are just a few of the suggestions for the parts of the pig most of us would rather not see at all. I have a few more to share next week – some of which I’ve made and eaten myself!
Tell me what you think about the above suggestions – have you ever eaten any of these parts of the pig? Would you want to? Do you think this is one of the ultimate pictures of “Use It Up?”
Let me know below!
Until next time,