March 1 is National Pig Day. And while some may celebrate by making a pig-ear headband, others have a more culinary approach to the holiday. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Georgeanne Brennan has fond memories of the “day of the pig” she spent on a farm in Mendocino County, California. “The plan was to bring together people who knew something about and were interested in the process of slaughtering, butchering, cooking and curing the meat,” she writes.
Her meditation encompasses the rise of nose-to-tail eating and the particulars of making porchetta. She delicately tiptoes past the slaughter, noting only that her host brought out a bottle of brandy to give a toast to the animal.
If you’re hungry, you might be interested to know that their end-of-the-day feast included the aforementioned porchetta, along with blood sausage and burgers of liver, kidneys, and heart wrapped in caul fat.
But Chris Shepherd goes whole hog in a different way. Instead of butchering the pig and breaking it into its separate parts before cooking, the Houston chef decided he wanted something in which he could roast a whole pig. What he found was la caja china, or Chinese box, an “unlovely contraption” that “looks like a wheelbarrow made from a cheap coffin.”
But the thing will roast: It cost a mere $300 and can cook a 50-pound pig in about four hours. “It’s a presentation thing,” Shepherd says. “You carry the pig through the dining room and people go, ‘Ooooooh, I want that.’”