Friday, March 10, 2017

Butchering and Preparing the Wild Hog

      This has become a tradition for us, our 3rd winter south and another wild hog hunt in Texas.  To date we have been 100% successful with both handgun and rifle.  This began as a 'Bucket List' item, but quickly became a hobby.  Both of my pigs have been 'feeder pigs' of about 120 pounds, yielding about 50 pounds of meat.  You are also allowed to kill all the piglets you wish, but these have very little meat on them.  This is a wild animal, nearly a legend, capable of large scale destruction and mayhem if allowed.  This year I was fortunate to kill my best hog yet, a 169 lb boar. 
Hog rooting destruction on the golf course Lockhart State Park, TX

      These hogs run wild in nearly every state, but most notably in Texas where with nearly 3 million hogs they are almost out of control.  They can reproduce every 115 days with a dozen piglets per litter.  They can weigh as much as 600 pounds even on the ranch I hunt.  This is also an animal to be wary of and respected, even when down.  Their adjacent tusks maintain razor sharpness and if they get ahold of you.......well, it won't be pretty.  They are aggressive. 
      Wild Hog has a questionable reputation for taste, but I have found this to be quite the opposite.  By no means do I imply that it tastes gamey. If cleaned properly and cooled quickly after harvest the meat is actually very tender and tasty if properly seasoned.   In fact we have found it to be a bit bland if not seasoned properly.  We discovered that the meat lends itself very well to sugar cure or garlic herb injection, or brining, and then roasting, frying, or grilling. 
      Although the ranch provides gutting, skinning, quartering, and cooling we butcher/vacuum seal/freeze our own hog right in the RV within about 6 hours of harvest.  With our added freezer we have about 70 quart capacity.  This equates to about 95 pounds of meat.  There is no great secret to this; we simply use a chart and carve to our liking.  With the exception of the ribs we bone out everything.  This year we even boned the ribs to save freezer space. With this year's hog weighing 169 lbs it just about topped the freezer completely off.  This meat will be very tasty for stew, fajitas, carnitas, or taco meat.       
First of all you need a good set of knives, including a cleaver and saw.  We own the
Outdoor Edge series of butchering knives.  We also use very good quality German Wusthoff Trident Boning Knives, both long and short.  This allows us to remove all the meat from the bones with leverage, yet still sharp enough to slice as delicately as we wish.  Sharpened correctly, these are the best knives in the world. 
       We end up with tenderloin steaks and whole back strap, ribs, 2 front shoulder roasts, 2 hams, and whatever is left or trim is used for fajita/taco meat.  You can use damaged front shoulders for trim or flatiron steaks as well. 
       Once the butchering is complete we divide the meat into portions for individual meals which are sealed and frozen.  Barb loves her Food Saver Vacuum Sealer.  I must admit I was stubborn to purchasing one of these for many years, but after we bought our first (5 years ago) I'm sold.  It has seen many, many hours of use.  In fact we are now on our 2nd Food Saver. 

We have found several good recipes for front shoulders and there are many good recipes for ribs, tenderloin, and hams.
Wild Hog Ribs
Wild Hog Fajitas w/Mango
Crockpot Wild Hog Tenderloin

Pit Roasted Wild Hog Ham w/Peach Habanero Glaze
(Boar's Head Brown Sugar & Spice works well too)

These sites offer several recipes with which to prepare wild pigs:

      Of course there are many other resources and you can even modify your own current pork recipes to prepare this wonderful feast.  We have thoroughly enjoyed this addition to our wild game pantry the past couple years and am sure that once again we will enjoy many good meals on our way to and from Alaska this summer! 

"Cooking certain dishes like roast pork, reminds me of my mother"
                                                                               Maya Angelou

WiFi courtesy of Texas Department of Parks & Wildlife

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