So Hey, I Totally Promised to Tell You about the Pig Shoulder

Carrying on from “yesterday“…

After I dropped my shiny Christmas loot at home I headed toward the Church of England charity tree lot about 15 minutes down street. There were 5′ potted trees next door at Fresh and Wild (Whole Foods with U.K. branding), but they were already netted and I was going to see my first tree with its branches loose, dammit. Also, you know, charity. On my way I stopped at the really good butcher, planning to get a small pork shoulder roast. I’ve just started visiting the really good butcher — before that I went to the adequate butcher, and before that grocery stores. Which is why when I imagined a small pork shoulder roast I was picturing about two pounds of meat and a little fat rolled and tied. My plan was to brown it on the stove, then simmer it for hours in the pork broth I had in the freezer.

So I asked the really good butcher for a small pork shoulder roast, and he said the small ones were all pre-wrapped and on special. And that’s how for £4 I ended with 3 kilos (that’s about 6.5 pounds) of actual pig shoulder: meat, yes, and fat, and bone and skin. Bristly skin. As in skin with bristles on it. Not that this was in any way a travesty. I think if I’m going to eat meat I need to be prepared to handle recognizable animal parts. I just didn’t plan on carrying that much home along with my 5′ potted Christmas tree.

But I did. Because I am from hardy stock.

A word about pig skin: in the parts of the U.S. I’m familiar with, pig skin — when not being used as an outmoded reference to a football — appears as pre-packaged pork rinds. In the U.K., it’s called crackling when roasted with pork (scratchings when packaged up like pork rinds), and Americans are apparently MAD for not including this delicacy with their pork roasts. I half expected an angry mob to storm my kitchen when I removed it from the shoulder. Props to the bristles, by the way, for making it easier to grip the shoulder while cutting through the very tough skin (fortunately I have good, sharp knives, and my mother will be pleased to know that I always point them away from me while hacking at animal bits).

I did manage to brown part of the joint before boiling it for many, many hours. Then followed an interesting anatomy lesson: behold the components of the shoulder! and about two quarts of taco-ready pork and two quarts of broth. My freezer is full.

Thus ends the tale of pig shoulder.

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