Thursday, 26 December 2013

No omelette

We escaped having omelette and roasties for Christmas lunch after I had a last minute forage in the freezer and pulled out a leg of lamb. This was mid afternoon on Christmas Eve. So, how to cook it.....

- I could put it straight into my American canner which is also a pressure cooker, which is a method I often use for cooking meat straight from the freezer without having to defrost it first. Four litres of water, one frozen joint of meat, one hour later, and done. Leave pressure cooker to come down off pressure for half an hour, meat out of cooker, drop of oil on top of meat, pop into hot oven so that the surface can crisp up. Two hours to get a roast dinner on the table, so this is an excellent way when I have either forgotten to get the meat out of the freezer to defrost, or I decide on a roast dinner at the last minute.

The only trouble with this method is that the meat is cooked in itself, so does not have time to absorb any other flavourings to help it along, so any flavouring for the meal has to come from outside of the meat.

- Pot roast, now that does put flavourings into the meat. So what I did with the leg of lamb this time, was put it straight from the freezer into my big pot, covered it with water, a few stock cubes, carrots, bay leaves, and onions, simmered it until I remembered to switch it off later on in the evening, left it to stand overnight, got it out in the morning, and wow, but it was so tender. So into the oven to get a roasted top, but not so much that it dried out. I also put foil around the lower leg meat, which has a tendency to get like leather if this is not done.

Because the meat had been slow cooked and then left overnight to cool down, the meat did not fall apart when Himself sliced into it, which it normally does if I use the fast track pressure cooking method. 

It was a bit touch and go as to whether Himself would get the plucking of the feathers done in time for Christmas lunch, after a family pow wow yesterday took the decision to start getting the cockerel numbers down. Cockerels in full action are a trial to any hens, and several of our hens had been driven to hiding away in corners to get away from the single boys. The grey Orpington, the white, and Orpy Junior, these cockerels each have their own groups of hens, and they work well together. But it is the solo boys, of which there had been six, these were the problem, charging at any hen they saw in a screeching  whirlwind of feathers and claws, to then take that hen whether she wanted taking or not. Cockerel rape, that is what was happening. It is not nice to hear, or to see. Our girls need looking after, so the six are to go. 

For reasons best known to himself, Lester decided to get another one done yesterday, despite Christmas lunch being on the way. And it was with a mild sense of the macarbre that I started dishing dinner up on plates laid at one end of the kitchen table, with Himself gutting the cockerel at the other end.

We might have had goose for dinner though. Our two rottweiller girls were recently caught with one of our geese in their mouths. Not one goose each. No, it was both girls hanging on, side by side, to the neck of one goose. They were told off, big time. The goose lives on.

But the Tamworth big girl pig does not. A family pow wow at the beginning of the year decided that should she not have had a litter by the end of the year, then she would have to go into the freezer. She has. But we had to buy a new freezer to put her in.

It was a fast and painless death. She was not caught by her legs and held aloft, so that her throat could be cut, so that her blood could flow into a bucket, so that blood sausage could be made. That would have meant megga distress for both her and us. Anyway, she was far to big for that. Stretched out she was two metres long, and weighed around 300 -350 kgs. To have even tried to get hold of her legs would have meant having to have more man help, because what you do if you want the blood for sausage is rope all four legs individually, one or two men per leg. Then you hoist the hind legs up so the pig is at full stretch. Then the throat is cut. How do we know that this is done? Because a friend had his pig slaughtered by a professional butcher and that is how the professionals do it. But we don't. 

She danced across the paddock towards us, put her nose joyfully into her food, the humane killer was put to her forehead, and she was gone in a second. The blood vessel in her neck was then opened quickly, and her blood flowed freely into the ground, to give life to the ground, and she stayed on the ground until this was all done. And then up on to the tractor, to be quietly, and almost reverently, taken back to the courtyard. 

Five days later, and all was in the freezer. One day for phase one, which was the end of life and preparation for being taken into the kitchen. It was a long day. Day two, the second phase, was trying to get her into the kitchen, but we had to divide her up into portions because she was so heavy. Even then Lester had trouble carrying in even the smallest of the pieces, which was one of her back legs. As for half of her actual body lengthwise, well, the wheelbarrow, Lester, and me, somehow managed but only just. It was a struggle.Then the division into 'smaller' pieces. It was a long day. Day three, and the third phase. Still the main body to go, with bacon pieces, and chops, one chop weighing in at 1.5 kgs.  As I say, she was a big girl. Another long day.  Day four, still phase three. And bits and pieces being sorted out. Big bucket of meat in the fridge waiting for mincing. Tried to use my table top mincer, but it was too low powered. So out to buy a semi pro mincer. Too tired to try it out.  Day five, still phase three.... It took five minutes to put a very big and very full bucket of meat through the mincer. Several hours later, and all done. Three types of sausage meat made either into patties or bagged as was, but no sausages, preferring the patties instead. 

All in all it was a five day job which seemed to go on forever. But never did we forget that this was our pig raised on our smallholding. And now we have three freezers full of the harvest of our livestock, with still some more harvesting to be done. We are still reducing the numbers of sheep, so that the fields are not so pressurized. This has to be done otherwise we risk the health and well being of all the animals here. 


Have just taken the dogs out for pee and poo. It was raining and very windy. There was something quite wild and earthy walking across the fields,  in the half light,  in my wellies and dressing gown with my umbrella held aloft. 

Christmas lunch, in the end, and despite having a cockerel prepped for the freezer while the food was being put on the plates, was lovely. The lamb almost melted in the mouth. 

Hope you had a good Christmas meal as well,.......
Love and blessings

1 comment:

Denise said...

Sheesh, sounds like a trial and a half, that does. Bravo to the pair of you. I can't even bear the smell of bacon cooking now!