When you can’t close the door to your freezer, it’s time to use up some of the inventory. And as good as I’d like to think I am about labeling and dating whatever goes into the freezer...
…some animal parts manage to last a year or two longer than they probably should. Of course, the purpose of putting a label and a date on everything that goes into the freezer is so you know what the heck it is after it has been packed along with 100 other packages.
When you can’t close the door to your freezer, it’s time to use up some of the inventory. And as good as I’d like to think I am about labeling and dating whatever goes into the freezer, some animal parts manage to last a year or two longer than they probably should. Of course, the purpose of putting a label and a date on everything that goes into the freezer is so you know what the heck it is after it has been packed along with 100 other packages. Use the oldest stuff first. Frozen meat does not get better with age. I’ve been saying that for years, but I don’t always practice what I preach. I know…shocking.
During a recent freezer clean-out, I found some parts of a feral hog that went into the freezer a few years ago. The parts were scattered around 2 large freezers and they included a roast, some sausage and what I think was hindquarter trim. I also found a smoked ham hock. Along with some odds and ends of fresh and frozen vegetables, I had the makings of a great stew. Fortunately, the pig was a smallish one. Older boar hogs can be a more of a challenge. I start with them by removing as much visible fat as possible. Sometimes it’s best to do the cooking outdoors as an old hog can be a little stinky.
Some of the things people do with their food seem crazy to me. Rather than making a hearty broth from the roasted bones and trim from both wild and domestic animals, there are actually folks who keep only the choice parts of an animal and discard way too much of what’s left. Turkey hunters are especially guilty. Yes, I know it’s not all turkey hunters, but if you hunt turkeys, you know a few people who just remove the breast fillets and chuck the rest in the trash. Those turkey parts that you threw away would have made a great tasting broth for soups and stews, certainly far more flavorful that what you get out of a freakin’ bouillon cube. Save the parts. Make stocks. Freeze stocks.
Back to the boar stew. If you’re waiting for a recipe, you don’t need one. I browned the roast, chopped up the hindquarter trim, sliced the sausage and threw it all into a stock pot with the smoked ham hock. If you roast, smoke or grill the meaty parts before adding to the pot, it will give stew more depth of flavor. I then threw in some roughly chopped onion, carrot and celery and covered the whole mess with cold water. Always start a stock with cold water so that the stock will be clearer when finished. Starting a stock with hot water will make the stock cloudier. Bring the pot to a low boil, then keep it on a low simmer for several hours. You’ll know it’s done when the meat breaks apart easily and anything on the bones has fallen off. Meanwhile, you’ve been extracting some great flavor and healthy collagen out of the bone marrow and sinewy parts.
Remove the bones from the stock pot and add whatever vegetables you have on hand. Peppers, okra, herbs, garlic, leeks, corn…whatever. If you like beans, add dried beans a couple hours before the stew is done and they will absorb the flavor of the broth. With canned beans, add a can or two about 20 minutes before it’s ready to eat. Sometimes I’ll add a can or two of diced tomato for color and flavor. Season with salt, pepper and hot sauce. Serve with warm crusty bread and listen to your friends and family squeal with delight.