Whitesburg KY
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There’s nothing as good as a cornfed hog

It’s that time of the year again. By this I mean hog killing time.

Butchering a hog has to be done during cold weather for obvious reasons. The flies are no longer around to torment you, and the fresh meat needs to be chilled.

Not too many people raise hogs for butchering anymore, partly because they are just plain lazy and partly because of the cost of feed. A good cornfed hog would fetch a fair price at the sale about now. Some people feed their hogs anything they will eat, and there isn’t much a hog won’t consume – from table scraps to dishwater. A body would have to have an awful strong stomach to partake of the meat of one that had been fed some of the things available – that is, if they could stay in the kitchen while it was being fried or cooked. There is nothing as good as meat from a cornfed hog.

I knew a man one time back during the time when commodities were given out. He hated butter beans, but never failed to accept them on commodity day. Some people called it “calamity day.” People who liked the butter beans would ask him to give his to them, but nothing doing. He would cook them by the dishpan full and feed them to his hogs before he would give them away. But alas, when he butchered his hogs, they tasted like butter beans and he couldn’t eat the meat. Don’t know what he did with his hog meat, but I suppose he made lye soap out of it, which we did one fall.

Dad went to the stock sale at Isom and bought three shoats weighing about 125 pounds each. He butchered them and salted the meat down, but it turned warm again and the meat wouldn’t take salt. So we had lots of lye soap for quite awhile since we didn’t even have a freezer.

Anyway, when a hog was ready it was butchered and the hams, shoulders, and middlin’s were salt cured. After being trimmed of excess fat, they were salted down and laid out on a bench or table until they took salt. Then they were hung up to dry or cure. The bony parts were eaten first because they wouldn’t keep long. The heart, kidneys, tail, feet and ears, along with the head, were cooked and made into souse or sour meat, which is quite delicious.

Sometimes the feet and ears were pickled in salt brine. The fat trimmings plus any salvaged from the intestines were rendered out, or cooked to get the lard for use in the preparation of everyday meals.

The leftovers after the lard is extracted are called cracklin’s. They were eaten as is or could be baked in cornbread to make cracklin’ bread.

You talk about a breakfast so good a body would have to pat their feet as they eat it. Go to the smokehouse and slice off a chunk of cured ham or shoulder, slice it up and fry it and make redeye gravy with the drippings. A pan of freshly baked scratch biscuits and some homemade jam or jelly to smear on a couple of the biscuits, add a cup or two of black coffee to wash it all down with, and you talk about good eatin’. It is lip smackin’ good.

The so-called health experts say to not each such vittles because it ain’t good fer up country folks. “Hogwash.” My brother, who died November 25, 2004, would have enjoyed this article and memories.

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