Ham Cubes from Blackbeard
“Bring me the head of Blackbeard!” screamed the governor. And the troops set out in search of that notorious, rascally scallywag, Edward Teach. While Blackbeard was not first pirate to ever fly the dreaded skull and cross bones flag he was perhaps one of the most famous.
When they finally caught up with the man known as Blackbeard a mighty fight ensued. In the end, justice prevailed and Blackbeard’s head hung from the bowsprit, a bloody trophy to scare pirates everywhere. Or so the authorities hoped.
In my case, it was not a pirate’s head I wanted but the whole, unsplit, large tusked head of the big black breeding boar of our Blackieline who went by the name of Blackbeard. Normally the butcher splits the skulls which are then available for making pig’s head cheese more appropriately known as brawn, a delicious solid, sliceable gelled soup.
Blackbeard, our Blackbeard, had served his time well as a boar on our farm, given us many offspring. He had gotten to the size and age where he thought he could challenge the other boars and this was causing trouble. I have several other better boars coming up in his line, sons of his, thus it was time for Blackbeard to meet his disassembler.
“Why,” you ask, “would I want the head of Blackbeard?!?” Well, you see, it is quite simple, those big tusks are ivory and can be worth as much as a whole pig. Some of our boar tusks have been as long as 11.5″ and almost a complete circle. Thus in the tradition of making use of all the pig, I save the tusks too.
I also sometimes save the entire skull, with the tusks in, as they are most impressive. Some people seek them as desktop decorations. It is certainly a very unique object d’art and each one is different. This is why I asked the butcher not to split Blackbeard’s skull.
I don’t cut tusks on living boars so that means harvesting the tusks when the boars either die in the field or go to market. I’m continuously looking to improve our genetics thus I rotate boars and have a continuing slow supply of tusks.
We maintain multiple breeding herd lines of our Mainline, Blackieline, Tamworth, Large Black and Berkshire pigs. I’ve been hard selecting our Mainline for over a decade. Our Blackieline for almost as long. With weekly cullings to market and a keen eye for the qualities we need the lines continue to improve. The eventual goal is to end up with a single line that combines the best characteristics of all the breeds and lines. A pig ideal for our cold northern pasture climate with top mothering skills, a gentle temperament, fast growth, marbling and delicious.
The meat in the picture at the top is ham cubes. These are a delicious lean cut which is great for stewing, shish-kabobs, in chili, as pulled pork and other dishes. As you can tell, our pork is not, “The other white meat.”
One of the characteristics of our breeding lines is a lack of boar taint. However, every time I get to slaughter a large boar there is the question, will he show taint? Thus when the meat came back from Blackbeard this week we taste tested it prior to making deliveries. The answer: It Taint Free!
Blackbeard is not the oldest boar we slaughtered – that honor goes to Archimedes at eight years of age and 1,157 lbs in the fall after the warm golden months of summer. Blackbeard was just two years old and about 400 lbs – a good weight for his age coming out of winter.
Nor was Blackbeard our largest boar, by far. Neither was Archimedes. That honor goes to Spot at over 1,700 pounds of muscle bound, long lean mountain boar. One hears of ‘fat boars’ but our boars never get fat because of their low calorie pasture/whey diet and all the exercise they get climbing up and down our mountain.
With Blackbeard’s passing Spitzon is now the new head boar in the south herd.
And so the boars did rotate…
Outdoors: 4°F/4°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 66°F/62°F
Daily Spark: Serendipity is my friend because I pay her attention.