Butchering a Pig

Wild Pigs

When we were staying in the remote Pacific island of Penrhyn in the Cook Islands, Neville went off on a Wild Pig hunt led by our good friend Rio Teika.  They came back with four pigs.

There are only 50 people living in the small village of Tetautua, and no abattoir within 500 miles, so the villagers gutted and butchered the pigs themselves.

Aru Kia acts as the village butcher because he worked in NZ in a lamb processing plant for seven years and did a quick, efficient job right in front of our eyes. 

This is how they did it.

Preparation Time:  1 hour 


Pig Butchering 1.  Put the pig into a large container and pour boiling water over part of the skin surface to loosen the hair.
Pig Butchering 2.  Scrape the area clean with the edge of a sharp knife.
Pig Butchering 3.  Repeatedly pour boiling water over the hairs and scrape until all the hair is removed.
Pig Butchering 4.  Wash the pig in the sea.
Pig Butchering 5.  Pose with the bald pig.
Pig Butchering 6.  Cut around the tail and anus with a sharp knife, taking care not to cut the bowel because of the risk of contaminating the meat. 
Pig Butchering 7.  Carefully slit the skin on the stomach with a sharp knife taking care not to break the membrane around the innards.  If you do, you will make more mess and risk contaminating the meat. At this point, I think that the pelvis was split to make it easier to remove the innards.
Pig Butchering 8.  Continue to carefully slit the skin on the stomach.
Pig Butchering  9.  Continue to carefully slit the skin on the stomach.
Pig Butchering 10.  Make a deep incision from under the chin to the breastbone, reach in with your fingers and pull out the throat. The top end of the innards should now be loose.
Pig Butchering 11.  Separate the membrane around the innards from the rib cage and inside of the carcass.
Pig Butchering 12.  With someone holding the front legs, ease the innards out of the carcass
Pig Butchering 13.  Continue to pull and ...
Pig Butchering 14.  ... the whole innards should come out in one piece.
Pig Butchering 15.  Ensure that there are at least 30 sharks circling off the dock.
Pig Butchering 16.  Throw the innards into the sea and watch the water boil as the innards are consumed in three seconds.
Pig Butchering 17.  Check that all the innards have been removed.
Pig Butchering 18.  Wash the carcass with sea water.
Pig Butchering 19.  Cut off the head.
Pig Butchering 20.  Cut off the feet.
Pig Butchering 21.  Feel for the back edge of the ribs and separate the back legs from the carcass. 
Pig Butchering 22.  Trim excess skin and fat from the legs.
Pig Butchering 23.  Hang from a big hook and separate a leg from the pelvis. The hook was inserted into a slit cut at the back of the heel above the hoof.
Pig Butchering 24. Separate the pelvis from the other leg.  The legs can now be de-boned by slicing along and around the bone with a long sharp knife (but it looked difficult.)
 (Pig Butchering 25.  Trim the bottom of the rib cage and then cut off eight ribs as a slab, cutting through the back bone vertebrae.
Pig Butchering 26.  Using a strong, sharp knife,  chop the vertebrae in half to create two sets of ribs. (This looked to be an acquired skill...)
Pig Butchering 27.  Cut 25% off the end of the ribs (not much meat and lots of skin).  Use a strong knife/cleaver to crack them and a knife to separate.  You should now have two nice, meaty racks of ribs.
Pig Butchering 28.  Having got the prime cuts of leg and ribs, cut the rest of the meat off the carcass.