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Nubi Pig Club News & Holiday Recipes

When Ruth was an academic star at Princeton, U Michigan and MIT racking up degrees in mechanical and aerospace engineering, classmates might have voted her many things, but person most likely to lead her neighborhood pig group is not one of them. Sometimes, however, smarts and perseverance are needed in unexpected roles.

For Ruth, the big engineering question became how to keep the pigs warm in the field in early spring as she worked with others to create hay bale enclosures and then lay awake all night worrying about her charges. Not since E. B. White’s Charlotte, has anyone cared quite so much about a young pig.

With about 16 households helping out, the piglets prospered and grew to become….pork! Like most families, Ruth loved having the opportunity “to learn without having all the responsibility,” and to be able to get away on frequent summer lake excursions.

Ruth's brother is impossible to find a gift for. Last year they learned he does happily accept the gift of a prettily wrapped pound of bacon.

A largely unknown fact about Ruth is that besides academic degrees, she has a culinary degree. About ten years ago she received a Culinary Certificate from The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. So when she renders lard for pie crust and makes pumpkin pie from one of the ubiquitous Nubi pumpkins, Clara and Lee don’t waste sentiment on bygone piglets, they just say “yum!”

Farm Fresh Pumpkin Pie, with heavy credits to Cooks Illustrated . . .

One pie crust (use your favorite all-butter crust but substitute leaf
lard from a pig)

2 c. pureed fresh pumpkin
1 c. packed d. brown sugar
2 t. ground ginger
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. grated nutmeg
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. salt
2/3 c. fresh cream
2/3 c. fresh milk
4 fresh eggs

Preheat oven to 400. Prick crust all over with a fork. Press a piece
of aluminum foil inside the shell, against the sides and up over the
edge. Prick the bottom again with a fork in several places.
Refrigerate crust for 30 minutes.

While crust is refrigerating, process pumpkin, sugar, and spices in a
food processor. Transfer mixture to a pot on the stove and cook over
medium-high heat until it comes to a simmer. Cook for several minutes
until it’s thick and shiny, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes.

Put crust in the oven and bake 15 minutes, pressing down with oven
mitts on any bubbles. Remove foil and bake another 10 minutes or so
until it just begins to brown. When it comes out of the oven, whisk
cream and milk into pumpkin and bring to a simmer. Process eggs in
food processor until mixed, then add hot pumpkin mixture to the eggs.
Pour hot filling into the pie crust (if there is extra filling, you
can add it after about five minutes of baking). Bake until filling is
puffed, lightly cracked on the edges, and just jiggles in the center
when shaken, about 25 minutes. Cool on rack at least 1 hour.

Top with whipped cream.

Tom, another Nubi swineherd, rendering lard on the "Weber" grill

How to render lard;
Don’t do this inside! Tight houses are great for heat retention, but they’ll hold the porky smell a long, long time. Tom used a small pot on a charcoal grill and a fair amount of water to start his leaf lard melting. Ruth used an electric skillet, set it on low, and added no water.. Either way, chop the lard while semi frozen into 1”ish pieces. When the fat is fully rendered, strain through cheese cloth, use the delicious cracklings you have strained out as a snack or mixed with garlic for sumptuous garlic bread, and freeze the lard for up to a year.

Ever wonder why Stacey thinks it’s fun to run a 5K race over hilly terrain in her first trimester of pregnancy while pushing Cadel and Senja in the stroller. Stacey descends from sturdy Finnish stock. Her grandfather emigrated to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and worked as a coal miner.

While pasties (pronounced with a short a, not the same way as stripper gear) are Cornish in origin, they are part of her heritage because they became a common lunch pail dish for miners who heated them up over coal fires and ate them out of hand. The pork and vegetable filling goes in raw and the dough needs to be extra dry so it won’t get soggy during baking. One of the tests of the maker’s skill is how well the pasty holds together when you bite into it.

Cornish Pasties
Make a lard pie crust on the dry side. Divide it into 1 1/2 inch balls and refrigerate for an hour. Combine ground pork with finely chopped onion and rutabaga and potatoes. Season well with salt and pepper. Roll dough into thin rounds. Put a large scoop of meat mixture in center. Wet edges of dough and bring together to enclose meat. Crimp. Bake at 375 until dough is golden brown and filling has cooked through, about 45 minutes.

For New Years Day, Stacey adheres to her mother’s family’s German tradition of pork and sauerkraut. According to the extensive German community in Pennsylvania Dutch country, eating sauerkraut brings luck in the New Year.

Stacey organized all the field moves for pig club, as we tried to get the pigs on fresh ground at least weekly. This role devolved from super hands-on, to communications like “the pigs need to move Sunday, we’ll be away, have fun.” Stacey and Justin managed to be out of state for the last fateful pig move onto the live stock trailer, the one where Peter, Todd, Lono, Barbara and Jim spent two hours getting the last recalcitrant pig to join his brethern. Where was that stamina when we needed it most?

In South Carolina, the superstition about luck and particularly lucre clings to Hoppin’ John, a dish of black eyed peas, greens and bacon. Some traditionalists hide a large coin in the pot with extra luck for the one who gets served it.

Hoppin John
serves 10

1 lb. black eyed peas, soaked overnight
1 heaping c. bacon, small cubes or slices cut into 1/4″ rectangles
2 cup chopped onion
6 c. tender kale leaves
1 cup chopped cooked ham
salt to taste
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
6 cups cooked Carolina rice
a quarter coin, boiled to sanitize
1 c. chopped red onion
tabasco sauce

Drain black eyed peas and cook until tender over medium heat in water
to cover amply, about one hour. Drain reserving 1/2 c. liquid.
Cook bacon over medium heat in large saucepan until lightly browned.
Add onion and cook to soften.
Stir in black-eyed peas, kale, ham, reserved bean liquid, salt and
cayenne pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes; stir in rice and cook until
Serve Hoppin’ John hot with red onion and tabasco sauce on the side.

Piglets arrive at Nubi.

It has been Jim’s and my great luck to have Sarah, Craig and Callan (immediately joined by Fiona) move from SC to NH a year ago. They arrived with about two tons of hog breeding stock, and the pig club was lucky to get 5 Tamworth Chester White feeder pigs to start our enterprise.

At Nubi we are also super lucky that when our home grown resources dwindle, we can turn to their Mayfair Farm for sausage in about 13 varieties (so far) and more bacon. While a pig comes with plenty of chops, more bacon would be a great genetic improvement.

I will end this tribute to a great year of pig rearing with a salute to Peter. Peter rushes in to grill where angels fear to tread. With a few Caja de China videos under his belt, and armed with his usual array of kitchen gadgets, he surmounted the challenge of a pig too large to actually go in the box and pulled off 2012’s greatest feat of culinary wizardry. He nailed our roast pig, serving it fantastically crisp, done to the prefect degree and at the perfect moment to over 100 salivating guests. Watch our neighborhood video of the pig roast day.

Todd and Peter with roast pig.

Here’s what Peter will be making for family this holiday season, and we are soooo lucky he is going to test his recipe on us at a Sunday potluck.

Roast Boston Pork Butt aka Pulled Pork

Most recipes for brining pork use sugar; in a tip of the hat to Northern New England, replace the sugar with maple syrup. Another seasoning we reach for often, particularly in the fall, is cinnamon with apple, pumpkin, & squash. So, instead of garlic in the seasoning mix, use cinnamon instead. These ‘traditional’ fall recipes also often call for ginger. Instead, use black cardamon (a type of ginger) seeds, which impart a smokey flavor, and which is ideal for oven-roasted pulled pork.

Use 5 – 7 lb pork butt, trimmed to leave a fat layer one side – we’re calling this side the top. You’ll see why later.
Brine Pork

5-7 lbs pork butt
12-16 C water
1 1/3 C salt
½ C maple syrup

Combine 4C warm water, salt, and maple syrup in a container large enough for both the brine and pork butt. Mix well until salt is dissolved. Add additional cold water. Add pork butt ensuring pork is covered completely with water, and cover container. Refrigerate pork in water for a minimum of 8 hours. Remove pork from refrigerator, drain, and pat pork dry. Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

2 T cumin seed
1 T chili powder
1/2 tsp cardamon seeds (removed from pods)
1 2/3 T paprika
11/2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp cinnamon

Combine ingredients in a spice grinder and pulse 10 times. Make seasoning just prior to roasting pork butt. Cover pat-dried pork butt with seasoning liberally, pressing seasoning on to pork. Place pork in aluminum roasting pan fat layer (the top) exposed. Insert thermometer probe and place in oven. Set probe to 200 degrees. Now go to bed, take a long hike, go for a day sail, hit the slopes, etc. Depending on the size of the roast, expect about 7 hrs for a 5 lb pork butt, or 10 1/2 hrs for a 7 lb butt, or usually about 90 minutes per pound depending on your oven. (Hint: To your roasting time, add 2 1/2 hrs before you and your guests will be able to dig in after the pork butt reaches the set temperature.) After the temperature probe reaches 200 degrees, turn the oven off, and peek at the roast. If the bottom of the pan is moist, shut the oven door and set a timer for 2 hrs. If the pan bottom is dry, tent the roast loosely with foil, close the oven door, and set a timer for 2 hrs. After 2 hours (temp of roast should be no greater than 170 degrees), remove the roast, place on a large cutting board, and shred the meat using your preferred technique – forks, fingers, or a combo of both.

Then serve with your favorite side dishes, rolls, and BBQ sauce, the latter used sparingly so as to not overwhelm the flavor of the pulled pork.

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