My Little Porkie

It was March 2013 when I first saw a Tweet from @samphireshop promoting their "My Little Porkie" scheme whereby you pay a modest deposit to have your very own little, pedigree rare breed and completely free range, piglet. They will look after it and send you regular updates and photos. You can even visit your pig if you want to. I chose not to share the photos and updates with the family less they got too attached, leaving me and the dog to eat a whole pig between us. A task I suspect, Tori the family Red Setter was more than up for. Six months on (double the time commercial pigs are reared for) and My Little Porkie was ready for slaughter. This Blog records what I did next.....


Karen Nethercott from Samphire was very helpful in helping me decide how the pig was to be butchered. 

I knew I wanted 

  • Some belly for streaky bacon
  • Loin for back bacon
  • A ham to cure 
  • A mixture of lean and fatty meat for sausage making 
  • The Liver for a Pate
  • The Ears for a tasty canape 
But beyond that I was not to sure. Karen advised on cuts and quantities and I have not been disappointed. 


On Friday the 1st of November I took delivery of three medium sized boxes and the work began immediately.

Is that box for me ?
First I got the Leg, Shoulder and Belly joints into the deep freezers and the other cuts requiring work into the fridges. Note the plural here you need a lot of fridge and freezer space.

Ray's Pâté

Having got everything unpacked and safely in the fridge. The next job was to make the Pâté while the liver was still fresh. It was a large liver and enough to double up the quantities in Ray Smith's Pâté Recipe from the River Cottage Cookbook p228.

  • 1kg very fresh pig's liver
  • 500g fat pork belly 
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tbsp chopped sage
  • 100g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 wine glass port (or brandy)
  • 1 big pinch ground nutmeg or mace
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8-10 rashers rindless, unsmoked streaky bacon, stretched out with the back of a knife (optional)

Put the pork, onion and liver through a mincer and add the breadcrumbs. I make my own breadcrumbs by blitzing up part of a day or two old homemade loaf. 

Grate in a good pinch of fresh nutmeg 

Finely chop a handful of newly picked sage
 from the herb garden, crush the garlic, and grind
some black pepper and add to the mixture
together with a glass of port

Give everything a good mix together (except the bacon) 

Fry off a little of the mixture to test the seasoning

fill a bacon lined terrine with the mixture

Place the terrine in a bain-marie and cook in the middle of a pre-heated oven at gas mark 3 for an hour to an hour and a half or until it pulls away from the side of the dish and is firm to touch. Chill in the fridge while compressing with weights to ensure a sliceable texture. I have a piece of wood cut to fit inside the dish which I have vacuum packed. I can then stack what ever comes to hand on it to compress the pâté.

The Ham

Simultaneously to cooking the pâté I was also getting on with wet cure for the ham.

I chose a suffolk cure for the ham but I put the ham in a basic cure for a day prior to going into the final cure.

Again I have lifted most of the method and ingredients from Hugh FWS River Cottage Cookbook see pages 158 - 160.

The basic brine consists of 2kg of coarse salt, 50g of saltpetre and 6 litres water boiled for 1o minutes to dissolve the salt. I then transfer this to a fermentation bucket to cool before adding the chilled ham.

To submerge the ham in the cure I weigh it down with two or three 1Kg weights sealed in a vacuum packed bag. ( you must not have any metal in the brine)

To try an keep the "brew" at the desired temperature of 3-4°C I also add a couple of plastic cold box chillers which I change twice a day.

For the Suffolk cure I bring the following to boil in a large pan and allow to cool

  • 2 litres beer
  • 2 litres malt vinegar
  • 1.5kg salt
  • 25g peppercorns
  • 25g cloves
  • 25g saltpetre
  • 1kg soft brown sugar

Given it is a Suffolk cure then the beer just had to be Adnams

Tha ham will now spend the next 28 days in the Suffolk cure


I had two joints for bacon a good sized piece of belly for streaky and similar sized piece of the loin for back bacon.

For the bacon I used a simple dry cure of salt, brown sugar, pepper and saltpetre.

The bacon was hung for a couple days to dry out in a fridge. I have a small second-hand fridge solely for hanging and curing meat.

Once dry the cure is worked into the meat.

The salted pork is then packed into a wooden box. The bacon will remain in the cure for at least a week with any wet salt being replaced daily. As the week goes on less and less water is drawn from the pork 

Pork Dripping

Ive always loved pork dripping so I thought why waste the fat!

So I cooked the fat from the trim on a roasting tray

The resultant loveliness was collected in plastic tubs (make sure they can take the heat first)

I will freeze this and use to roast the potatoes for Christmas dinner

Pork Scratchings

I found this simple method for Pork Scratchings on the internet last year.

Take a couple of pieces of the pigs skin and score with a sharp knife taking care not to cut right through.

Pour a kettle of boiling water of the scored skin and watch the skin tighten and the scores open.

Hang the skin to dry 

Once dry rub in salt 

Pre-heat an oven to 250°C and roast in the top of the oven. 

Its done when its a nice golden brown colour. Break up into manageable size pieces and enjoy.


I've been making my own sausage for some time now and so this was an obvious thing to do with some of this pig. 

Add the seasoning mix of you choice to about 3.5Kg of minced pork. I get my seasoning mixes and casings from Weschenfelder's  

Add about 350g of Iced water. I put a large bowl of water in the deep freeze and get it out when it has just frozen over. Give this a good mixing.

 Add a further 350g of iced water and again mix well. Then add 350g of Dried Pinhead Rusk this is also available from  Weschenfelder's  

Mix thoroughly and run through the mincer again.

Rinse and soak the casings I usually put them into to soak just before bed the night before a sausage making session.

Put the stuffing attachment on the mincer and load casings onto the nozzle

Push the "On" button and gently feed off the sausage onto a tray

And thats it first batch of sausage done. In all I made about 9Kg with different seasonings some I will smoke the others I have frozen. The sausage that will be smoked need to hang for a day or so to dry out first.

A Pigs Ear ...or two

Yet another Hugh FWS inspired recipe

In some homemade pork stock simmer the ears for two and a half hours

Dry and slice the ears cover first in English mustard and then roll in fresh homemade bread crumbs and bake in pre-heated oven at gas mark 9


I made this smoker about 3 years ago

Made from an old metal 4 draw filing cabinet from freegle it's not the most attractive gadget I own but it does a dam good job.

The top two draws are cut away to allow meat to be hung. The smoke source sits in the bottom draw. 

In my case the smoke source is this neat little baby

The channels are filled with "Smoke Dust" and will produce smoke for ten hours fully loaded

The dust is set smoldering by a night-light candle and placed in the bottom draw of the smoker. The screw allows for easy removal.

I let the cabinet fill with smoke before adding the goodies

On this session I am also smoking some cheese

Its dead simple, adds great flavour and turns a ordinary chedder into a premium product. I just bought 1Kg of M&S "Mouse-Trap" sliced into just over 100g portions (Gives a more even smoke penetration than doing the block as a whole.)