Hi, my name is Robin and I am a meat hoarder. I believe in conscious consumption of meat, and supporting sustainable farming, and value, so I purchase my animals in bulk. Aside from chicken, I rarely by meat at the grocery store, and I love the indulgence of walking into my garage, reaching into my deep freezer and playing Russian Roulette with a dinner party menu. But in committing to buying a half lamb, half pig and 1/8 of a cow every year, I'm biting off more than I can chew, literally speaking (as well as figuratively). Yet, I can't stop. The thought of not having an endless supply of ground beef for impromptu sloppy joes, or pork chops to marinate in kim chi and sear in a cast iron skillet gives me anxiety. But, in an ironic twist, so does the reality of having to buy a supplemental freezer this year because I have too many quarts of frozen lard from 2009 to make room for the new supply.
Yesterday, I pulled out a pig jowl and started the 5-8 week long process that will result in guanciale, Today, I decided to conquer the pork belly, or at least start a management plan for it. Last year, I opted out of having my belly turned into bacon at the butcher's in lieu of taking a whole, uncured slab--my naked canvas, if you will. Well for all of my excitement to make my own bacon, Chinese red-cooked pork and rillettes, a 7lb pork belly stayed in my freezer for 11.5 months. So a cold, rainy Sunday gave me the excuse I needed to consult some cookbooks for ideas.
Then, I made a list of the pork belly recipes I was interested in and the corresponding weight of pork belly I would need.
I disrobed the belly. Leaner than I was expecting. There goes the homemade salt pork.
And then, I took out the old Foodsaver, weighed and labeled my pieces, and voila, several manageably-sized slabs of belly, ready for braising or curing or larding.
And then they went back in the freezer, because I'm still working on a defrosted hock and a pound of sausage in the fridge. But now, I have it all at the ready, as soon as I want them, whenever that may be. It's progress.