Nose to tail...
My Auntie Pearl is a legend, now in her late nineties she worked as a nurse and latterly a matron for many years, she was highly respected in her profession and she is much loved by our family. She’s also not afraid to speak the truth.
“What you are doing is nothing new,” she once exclaimed, when I explained the nose to tail philosophy. “My Father kept a pig, every October the men and women in our street would gather. Once the animal was slaughtered that’s when the real work began. Legs, hocks and collars were brined for hams, loins and bellies salted for bacons.” The list went on, “we would rinse the chitlins for sausage cases, boil bones for broth….”
Auntie Pearl was right, what we do at the farm is not new, but it’s equally as important today as it was then. Her Father and their neighbours had the utmost respect for the animal using every part in some way shape or form – nothing was wasted. Joints were preserved in brine or salt to give them longevity and flavour, both important at a time when refrigeration was not commonplace.
Fast forward almost 90 years and our respect for the animal and philosophy at Hill House Farm are the same, we make stock with the bones each week, for our onion gravy and ready meals, we cure or sausage many parts of the pig, while refrigeration is not a problem any more, this transforms the flavour and enables us to offer a greater variety of produce for a wider range of tastes. We supply ears and offal to a local pub, who incorporate them into their menu. The list goes on.
Perhaps most symbolic of the philosophy is the pork scratching. In big meat processing facilities, rinds are waste no longer perceived attractive in the mass consumer market they are removed and discarded. We take a different view, some people say it’s the best thing we do. We steam the rinds to tenderise them, then cut and dry them overnight. The following day we add two more natural ingredients salt and oil, when we crisp up the rinds and turn them into the unique and much-loved pork scratching.
Alas they won’t last, with no preservatives or stabilisers they have a shelf life of around 2 weeks, less once the pack is opened and you take the first bite! So we repeat this process every week to ensure nothing is wasted – I’m sure even Auntie Pearl would approve!