La Chatte Gitane (or The Gypsy Cat) was the name we chose for our cottage in France at the time. We chose it while on the road, moving house the first time round, from Ireland to France with 2 dogs and 7 cats in the car.
This blog began its insignificant life as a recipe book for friends and family who would ask me repeatedly for a recipe of this, that and the other.
Since then it has taken many different directions, like we did and like gypsies tend to do. Sometimes making a U-turn and revisiting familiar roads and taking a break when necessary.
You'll find recipes here, but also musings about the places we've called home, the gardens that we've established, not always successfully, the homes we've improved and the environments we've lived in. Currently, after yet another stint in Ireland, we're back in France @ Le Mas d'Ayen

Monday, December 14, 2015

Mammoth Task

Last Wednesday we had to collect the pork at the butcher's. The meat from our piggies.
The largest of the two was sent off to the man who is going to turn the meat into salami, sausages, bacon, etc, etc.
For the 'smaller' one I asked the butcher to brine the two legs, so they will be collected just before Christmas. Pete (the butcher) minced one of the shoulders for me and the other, just boned, so that I could cube it for stews.
The heads were already in the freezer. Freezers full !! Of course, we have the lamb, that we acquired a few weeks ago, in there too.
I got Bert to ask Pete to just halve the saddle lentghways. I would do the rest. Pete almost got in a panic. He doesn't seem to trust my abilities of cutting meat. "But what will she do with it ?" Bert, in all his wisdom said that I was going to take the tenderloin off and things like that. "Yeah, I get that, but what with all the rest ?"
What, indeed ? Luckily Pete had the good sense to cut the belly off the back too. So, in effect the pig was quartered lengthwise.
When Bert brought in that first part, I broke out in a cold sweat.  That is not the meat from our pig ! That is from a friggin' dinosaur !
After wiping off the perspiration from my forehead and palms of my hands, I set to work on the loin.
Halved it, to just after the ribs. The rib side for chops and back ribs, the other side gave us 2 nice loin roasts. Oh, and of course I took off the tenderloin.
These loin chops measure 32 cm (1 ft ?), weighing about 600 gr !

That is Bert's hairy hand, not mine, thank you very much.

That was Wednesday.
On Thursday morning it became all too obvious that our two chest freezers wouldn't cope. I took out one of the heads and cooked it for, yes brawn.
By mid afternoon, the freezers were stuffed to the brim. Bert hurried to Kenmare to buy an extra one.
Due to lack of suitable space anywhere else in the house, it is now in his office of all places. Only temporary, I can assure you.

Thursday was the longest day, ever! (Just like this post, I guess). My hands sore, muscles achy. It is a good workout, butchering a pig.
I rolled pork belly with herbs for porchetta. Made and cooked meatballs, large and small.

Fat rendering down while I was working my way through and continued with that job on Friday, when I also finished the brawn.
There is so much clean meat coming off the head, that I can't justify not using it.
This time, I opted to put the meat through the food processor. In Flemish we call this kind of brawn "kipkap".  Nothing untoward has gone in. Just tender meat, onions and parsley, cooking liquid and seasoning.

I used the weekend to make yet another batch of brawn, the head taking up too much space in the freezer.
Bert so deserves a silver medal for manning the vacuum sealer, for being the knife sharpener, freezer stuffer and tidy up-er here and there. 
The gold medal is mine, all mine !

Patricia xxx...x


  1. We don't have pigs now, but I did once make brawn, mainly as a gift to our kind French neighbour. Trouble was, OH hadn't scraped off the bristles very well, not realising that I would need the skin to be very clean. I spent two hours with a pair of tweezers retrieving all the bristles! Anyway, our neighbour was very pleased so it was OK in the end.

  2. You can now reap the rewards of your hard work, some wonderful meat x

  3. Re the new freezer ... I hope 'temporary' in your house has a different meaning than in my house. ;-)

    1. It's usually a looooong temporary, until it starts to properly annoy me and then it has to move promptly.


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