Origins: A few really happy pretty piggies

“Little pig, little pig, let me in!
Not by the hair on my chinny, chin, chin!”

Luckily I don’t have to make such an effort to get my hands on a little piggy. I just pick up the phone and tell my meat supplier, Direct Meat, to send one over and bingo, there it is, waiting for me first thing in the morning! Garlic, thyme, rosemary, sage, chilli, spices, oven. What a way to go! But of course, there are pigs, and there are PIGS! It’s hard to keep track of who’s who and each breed is good for something else and this and that and before you know it, you’re tearing your hair out!

Well, I used to always favour a breed called Middlewhite – some of the best pork around, and then Direct Meat introduced me to Dingley Dell. Dingley Dell is a freedom food pork farm in Sussex, England and it is the RSPCA’s flagship farm for the movement. What is freedom food, I hear you think.

It’s food that’s free! For everyone! Help yourself.

If only.

It’s pretty much as it says. Food that has the freedom to move instead of being caged, holed, barred or boxed up or restricted in any way. So I went along to an open day organised by Direct Meat to the farm itself and I can tell you in all honesty – there were some really happy pigs wandering about on the fields. These pigs spend their entire life in the fields, roaming about, eating, running, wrestling, fighting foxes. The only enclosure they get put in has an open roof, plenty of space for them to run around. These enclosures are as the pigs get older to keep them herded, and in various stages of their growth. The RSPCA also has strict guidelines about slaughter. Most abbatoirs will bring in the pigs on the day of slaughter and as pigs are sensitive creatures (no, really!), they get all stressed out, squealing away, basically passing on the stress to the final product and, eventually, onto the person eating it.

With Dingley Dell, the pigs are taken to the abbatoir 3 days prior to slaughter, kept in a dark room with lots of space to keep the cool, calm and collected and then the grim reaper meets them by way of a stun-bolt to the head.

Pigs aren’t, the dirtiest filthiest creatures on the planet. Well, not these ones at least. I wouldn’t go near the pigs I’ve seen roaming about in India! They do, however, carry disease and have to be injected with medicine to prevent infections.

Oh yes and they’re really quite friendly. And really, really tasty!

Big mamma, baby piggy
Hour old piglet
Finger on throat so it doesn't squeal and stress mamma
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Just a few more weeks before I see you again in the kitchen!
They're not sure whether to trust us yet!
They're not sure whether or not to trust us yet.
But a little bit of grass and we're friends!

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Mmm. Suckling pig!
Bit shy...
Smile for the camera piggies!

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As for how I like to cook my pig:

Spicy pig, spicy pig

Serves 4.

4 – Pork chops
1 tbsp – minced garlic
1 tbsp – minced ginger
2 tsp – hot chilli powder
2 tsp – cracked black pepper
1 tsp – cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp – star anise powder
1 tsp – cumin powder
1.5 tsp – salt
2 tsp – paprika
1 tbsp – vinegar

Marinate the pork with the rest of the ingredients and leave for at least 30 minutes. Grill or bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes and serve with some crushed potatoes, salad and fruit chutney.

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