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Half Hog - How to Cut??

Discussion in 'Pork' started by twinfallsid, Aug 12, 2010.

  1. A local farmer put an ad on craigslist for a few Hampshire hogs.  I called him and asked if anyone else was inquiring about getting only 1/2.  He said he would split the one he and his wife were going to keep.

    So now I've got a 1/2 hog in the pipeline. Farmer said the hog should dress out to about 150 pounds.  I told him I'd take my half and all the weird bits, liver, heart, head, etc.  He agreed to that.  My total cost, including kill, cut & wrap will be about $150, so its lots of quality pork for less than $2.00 per pound

    Can some experienced folks recommend how I should instruct the butcher to process my share?  I have a good large smoker and want to try making bacon for the first time.  I plan to cure & smoke the side, jowls, hocks and maybe make some buckboard.

    What parts should I get fresh, and what parts frozen?  How thick for chops and how big for roasts?  Are there any specialty cuts you don't normally see in the supermarket that would be good to try?  I'm remembering that last rack of lamb, which is basically the prime rib of lamb.  Maybe there is a porky equivalent?

    Also recipe suggestions for the offal are welcome.  I'm thinking head cheese, liver pate, render the fat to lard, etc.

    Thanks in advance for advice!

  2. Please add any suggestions you may have, thanks!

    Here is my start on the instructions to the butcher:

    Pig Parts

    Package and freeze in quantities for two or three people.

    Do not freeze, just refrigerate:


    Side for bacon


    Fat – I will render to lard at home

    I have my own smoker and will smoke the bacon, jowls, and hocks myself.

    Cuts Desired

    Fresh ham cut in half

    Shoulder cut in half

    Do not discard

    Any fat



  3. My family likes breakfast sausage and chorizo.. our butcher's recipe is to our liking ... this helps use up a lot of the fat trimmings..  you can tell most butchers hotter or milder or more sage or less etc...
  4. walle

    walle Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    I would tell him to cut it all into chops.  LOL!
  5. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Above is what you will get on a half a pig.  You can elect to have some sliced, all sliced, your thickness, etc.  Let me describe each piece and approximate yield:

    1st off, see if the farmer will grind all your fat just once into bags instead of leaving in chunks; it will render much easier.

    Head: you will have 1 jowl about 4" round, and pickings off the snout and head

    Pork butt: about 8lbs of roast with blade bone; pork steak or country style pork ribs, part or all rolled into a roast, or half it for buckboard bacon.

    Arm shoulder: fresh for roast, cured and smoked for smoked picnic, leave whole, cut in half, cut out center slices fresh or smoked, boned and rolled into a roast.  Cut hock off for beans or soup (or saurkraut - yum!)

    The backbone off the pork butt/arm shoulder can be trimmed out for trimmings, plus also cut into chunks for fresh and/or cured and smoked backbones, great flavoring for beans and soup, pork stock, smoked for split pea soup, etc.

    Loin: whole loin is comprised of three major parts:  Rib End, Center Cut and Loin End.  Each can be cut into chops, boned and rolled into roasts, split in half and sliced into country style ribs, boned and sliced into boneless chops, etc.  The rib end is the prime rib, and is fattier than the loin end (which is sirloin, porterhouse, etc.).  If you get any boned out, again ask for the bones for soup, broth and/or smoking.  Plenty of flavor instead of throwing them out!

    Belly: off the inside of the belly are the rack of spareribs, you'll get one.  The belly itself can be done into three products:  fresh it's called 'sidepork'; slice it and fry it.  Cured it's called 'salt pork', great for beans and soup.  After curing you can smoke it and it's the All American Favorite - bacon!

    Hind leg:  This is the ham of the hog.  Fresh is a pork roast.  Cured and smoked it's a classic ham (see my ham thread at the bottom).  It consists of three parts:  the Shank portion nearest the hind hoof, large knuckle joint inside, wastey.  Center Cut roast or Center Cut Slices, most meat and least bone, can be fresh pork or cured and smoked.  Butt portion, the end nearest cut off the loin, one knuckle joint also but not the fat or skin like the shank portion, more yield, again can be fresh or smoked.  Off the ham is another hock.. (saurkraut! yum!) or pickled and/or smoked. Also, off the front arm and the hind leg you have the pig's feet which can be split, pickled and/or smoked, great for munching!

    Tail, ears - usually deep-fried crispy along with the skin from the belly, ham, loin and shoulder for deep-fried pork skins - great salted!

    Liver - fried, baked, smoked, ground, chopped, any way you want it - liverwurst, boudin, etc.

    Heart - fresh, pickled and/or smoked; delicious!

    Kidneys - kidney pie, baked, broiled, boiled, etc.

    Eyes - deep fried

    Tongue - fresh, pickled and/or smoked - soak and par boil first to peel off the skin, then cook up

    Jowl - delicasy - fried, baked, pickled, smoked, etc.  tender!

    Neck: for sausage, pork stew

    Hope this helps!  It all depends on what you want from it, but seeing what you'll be getting gives you more of an idea of what parts are what and sizes, etc.

    Regardless, eat the whole thing and see if you can get some intestines for casings too or if he'll give you some salted down.  Even if you don't make your own sausage yet, save them in the fridge (do NOT freeze) salted down (just table salt all over them) and they'll last a year or more.. ya never know when that grinder and stuffer will magically appear and you can process your own hogs!  You can use a hand saw to section the parts and bone out for slicing vs. having a power saw!


    Last edited: Aug 12, 2010
  6. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Now I would listen to Pops he's one of the best we have here and what ever he tells you do it.
  7. bbally

    bbally Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  8. Thank you Pops, and everyone else.  I sure do appreciate it.
  9. Pops,

    Thank you for your help.  I could not have written clear instructions for the butcher without you.  Here they are, please suggest any changes. 




    Package and freeze in quantities for two or three people.

    DO NOT FREEZE these parts, just refrigerate:

    Head – separate jowls, tongue, and brain (don't freeze)

    Side for bacon 



    Bone chunks

    Fat – Grind the fat one time, and put into bags – Customer will render to lard at home

    Customer has a large smoker and will smoke the bacon, jowls, and hocks at home.


    Neck: trim for ground pork, cut bones into chunks for customer smoker.

    Shoulder Butt: cut in half for 2 roasts, remove skin

    Arm Shoulder Picnic: cut in half for 2 roasts, remove hock

    Feet: split, do not discard

    Backbone off the butt/arm shoulder:  trimmed out for ground pork, and cut into chunks

    Fatback: DO NOT GRIND, leave skin on, cut into 8” x 6” slabs for customer smoked salo.

    see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salo_(food)


    Rib End:   One bone-in roast, for “prime rib.” Remove and cut the backbone into chunks.

    Center Cut & Loin End: Cut for pork chops, 1-inch thick.


    Spareribs: One piece, remove and cut the backbone into chunks.

    Sidepork:   One piece, remove skin,  for  bacon, customer  will cure & smoke it at home

    Hind leg: 

    Shank: One roast, leave skin on.

    Center Cut:   One roast, leave skin on.

    Butt Portion:  Cut for two roasts, remove skin and some fat.

    Hock:   Remove, do not discard

    Feet:   Split, do not discard

    All Trimmings: Grind for gound pork, customer will make sausage.


    Any fat,  Liver,  Heart,  Head,  Brain,  Jowls,  Tongue,  Tail,  Ears,  Skin.

    Bones – cut into chunks, Customer  will smoke them

    Skin – cut into manageble pieces, customer will cut smaller, for pork rinds
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2010