You might also be interested in reading my post How to Cook with a Wood Stove.
Locally Raised Pork
We no longer purchase our meat from the grocery store. All of our poultry is raised at home and we buy grass fed beef and naturally raised pork from local farmers. I do occasionally pick up a few packages of brats (we are outside of Chicago, after all) from the local butcher. I love knowing that our meat comes small local farmers.
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We do pay more than we used to, but I have found ways of stretching what we get by using parts that many people wouldn’t buy, like pork hocks, and organs. I even bring home the head if the butcher shop will save it for me and I cook it down to make soup from that too. Maybe you’ll get to see photos of that someday. 😉
Cooking Pork Hocks
I cooked two packages of pork hocks in my slow cooker for the better part of a day. You could also cook them in a pot of water or slow roast them in the oven. Each package had one or two nice sized hocks in it (the ankle joint of the pig). We ate the meat from the hocks for dinner two nights in a row and the rest was cooked down for soup. I served the meat with potatoes cooked in the pork juices with seasonings (ground bay leaf, thyme, salt, pepper, chili pepper, and garlic powder) and a salad on the side. Use the seasonings you prefer.
Winter Vegetable Stew
The third day I cooked the leftover joints in a pot of water (add a tablespoon or two of vinegar to leach calcium from the bones) on our wood stove for several hours. I had a nice pot of very rich pork broth with enough meat in it to grace a pot of winter vegetable stew. I picked the meat from the bones and added that to the broth on the wood stove. Parsnips, turnips, onions, and sweet potatoes were chopped and added to the pot. While it simmered I added sage, thyme, dehydrated sweet peppers, garlic, salt, pepper, and some onion powder.
The pork bone broth added a nutritious and delicious boost to our savory vegetable stew. You can add whatever vegetables you have on hand from your canned goods, freezer, root cellar, garden, or even the grocery store. Season as you see fit!
Using It Up!
After cooking the hocks down in a stew pot all day, I separated the meat from everything else. The bones, gristle, and fat were fed to the chickens. In the past I would give some to our dogs, but we have one with tummy troubles. You can also use the fat for frying if you like. The bones could be boiled for broth again and if you have a way to grind them, they would make excellent chicken feed. Does anybody have ideas for grinding bones?
I strive to use as much of the animal as I can to save money and show respect for a life given to feed my family. Maybe that sounds a little bit odd, but having taken the lives of animals to feed my family has given me a greater appreciation of what one creature must give up so that we can eat meat. Don’t waste your food, folks! Use it up!