This meat is so proverbially, and we believe even dangerously un wholesome when ill fed, or in any degree diseased, that its quality should be closely examined before it is purchased.. When not home-fatted, it should be bought if possible of some respectable farmer, or miller, unless the butcher who supplies it can be perfectly relied on. Both the fat and lean should be very white, and the latter finely grained; the rind should be thin, smooth, and cool to the touch; if it be clammy, the pork is stale, and should be at once rejected; it ought also to be scrupulously avoided when the fat, instead of being quite clear of all blemish, is full of small kernels, which are indicative of disease. The manner of cutting up the pork varies in different counties, and also according to the purposes for which it is intended. The legs are either made into hams, or slightly salted for a few days and boiled; they are also sometimes roasted when the pork is not large nor coarse, with a savoury forcemeat inserted between the skin and flesh of the knuckle. The part of the shoulder called the hand is also occasionally pickled in the same way as hams and bacon, or it may be salted and boiled, but it is too sinewy for roasting.
After these and the head have been taken off, the remainder, without further division than being Split down the back, may be converted into whole sides, or flitches, as they are usually called, of bacon; but when the meat is large, and required in part for various other purposes, a chine may be taken out, and the fat pared off the bones of the ribs and loins for bacon; the thin part of the body converted into pickled pork, and the ribs and other bones roasted, or made into pies or sausages. The feet, which are generally salted down for immediate use, are excellent if laid for two or three weeks into the same pickle as the hams, then well covered with cold water, and slowly boiled until tender.
The loins of young and delicate pork are roasted with the skin on; and this is scored in regular stripes of about a quarter-inch wide with the point of a sharp knife, before the joints are laid to the fire. The skin of the leg also is just cut through in the same manner. This is done to prevent its blistering, and to render it more easy to carve, as the skin (or crackling) becomes so crisp and hard in the cooking, that it is otherwise sometimes difficult to divide it.
To be at any time fit for table, pork must be perfectly sweet, and thoroughly cooked; great attention also should be given to it when it is in pickle, for if any part of it be long exposed to the air, without being turned into, or well and frequently basted with the brine, it will often become tainted during the process of curing it.
1. The Spare Rib.
3. Belly, or Spring.
4. Pore Loin.
5. Hind Loin.