Sunday, April 17, 2011

Smoked Potbelly....MMMmmmmmm..

Horror of Horrors! We eat potbelly. They are pigs after all, native to the deep wilds of Vietnam, and perfectly sized for the micro homestead. Especially in a survival type situation. They are fairly quiet, eat very little, and can be kept in a small area.  Our potbellies have been raised on scraps since they were babies. They get weeds, kitchen trash, veges and fruits, and anything that dies, such as a chicken or rabbit. They hate citrus and cabbage type products. Everything else is fair game to them. In the summer, they graze, and we feed them little to nothing through the warmest months.

We have one breeding pair and Jill gives us two litters a year. Her smallest litter ever was five and her largest, twelve.

This is the smoker Chris built out of a couple water pressure tanks. Some cutting, welding, and a little bit of  country boy know-how, wah-la. Mini-pig cooker.

What you see here is the rear half of a potbelly barrow, meaning a castrated male grown for meat. He was 15 months old, way beyond butchering prime.  We kind of overfed them through the winter. We had an extremely harsh winter, and were afraid they weren't getting enough, as their shelter was minimal.
Notice the absurd amount of back fat.

I suppose I could have rendered the lard and made something out of all that fat, but I didn't have time and  don't really know how to make soap at this time.  We do it skin on, because the skin holds all the meat together. You could sear off the fur if you wanted, but why add more work if you don't have to?

So, close the lid, and add wood. The door to the fire box is on the other side. Make sure to use maple, or fruit wood, as you don't want a nasty flavor in the meat. You can see in the picture we have a thermometer stuck in one of the vent holes. At times it was pushing 300 degrees in there.

This is what it looked like after about 4 hours in the tank.
Chris cooked it all day and all night, good and hot!

This is what he looked like the next morning. Crispy!

We pulled it off and laid the whole thing on a clean plywood board. We carefully peeled it open, and attempted to peel the skin off. It worked pretty well.
Now when it comes to flesh and fat, pigs are different than a lot of other animals. Their meat and fat forms in layers like a sandwich. That is why bacon looks the way it does.

This is a piece of meat I was able to peel off in one piece. Man oh man it was so good. It was mouth watering good. Every time I walk past the cooker, even after the fact, I can smell it. We made BBQ, we ate it plain, I put it on pizza mixed with beef.  I fried some for breakfast with eggs.  It was so good. The flavor was to die for. (Hungry yet?)
We have another one in there right now, and one to follow tomorrow. The leftovers I froze. When the second one is finished, I will can it all.

We have 4 more to go, as there were five boys in that group. Only two in the younger group, as we sold three. This delicious, continuous supply of pork cost us very little. 
In short, potbellied pigs are an excellent survival food source for the small family homestead.


  1. Very interesting to the process. Sure is something to visual get used to. I am saving up to purchase the $125 Variety pack. Should be a couple of weeks. Can't wait. My husband is very curious to try rabbit.
    Love the website/blog and those Scottish Highlands are adorable.

    Chris Webster

  2. That's great! Rabbit is similar to chicken, Just let us know, but sorry, the roasted potbelly is for us.