The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

How Do You Take Your Pork Snouts?

May 14th, 2013 · 6 Comments · Posted in breakfast, dinner, Recipes

Pork snout: the foundation of a healthy breakfast

Pork snout: the foundation of a healthy breakfast

I’m a bachelor for the next couple of months on our new farm in Upstate New York. Wife and daughter are still back in D.C. until August. That means I get to eat whatever my conscience will allow, including all the odd bits of animals that I love so well.

Imagine my delight when I stumbled across something called kiszka (aka kishka), a big, thick sausage-looking thing nestled next to the Johnsonville Brats in the meat aisle of the supermarket in nearby Greenwich.

Ingredients on the label read thusly: “pork snouts, pork, buckwheat groats, beef tripe, salt, spices. My first thought: Kiszka, where have you been all my life?

I took some home for dinner and conducted a bit of online research. Turns out in its native Poland kiszka is known as a blood sausage–also called kaszanka-– with odd scraps of meat mixed in. In other words, the perfect sausage for a winter pork slaughter. The version I found at the local Hannaford’s does not contain any blood. My guess is most Americans would not touch a sausage with pig’s blood in it. (Where can I get me some fresh pig’s blood?) My second guess is that the kiszka I purchased also is not a huge seller. But I’m so glad to know it’s there.

Buckwheat groats are a traditional Eastern European grain not much seen in American cuisine, but often sold in the bulk aisle at Whole Foods or the health food store. Mixed with the aforementioned animal protein, the buckwheat results in something like scrapple in a casing, but without the peppery bite of scrapple. In fact, I would describe the flavor of this kiszka as fairly benign, but delicious. It cries out for sides with lift: baked apple or apple sauce comes to mind; a beet salad, perhaps, or maybe even my favorite sweet and sour Brussels sprouts.

Another of my guilty pleasures is baked beans. Yes, the classic baked beans out of a can. They certainly aren’t very good for you by today’s standards–full of salt and sugar. But you don’t have to eat them all the time. I had some with half my kiszka for dinner last night. I reheated the leftovers for the cowboy breakfast you see in the photo above, smothered in fried eggs.

To prepare your kizska, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Or sear it in a heavy skillet, then place in a 350-degree oven until the internal temperature as measured with an instant-read thermometer reaches 170 degrees. Most likely, your kiszka will be bursting at the seams at this point. The skin is actually quite delicate and totally edible.

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  • Anonymous

    Ed, you need to find where the “custom butchers” aka custom slaughterhouses or small or mom-and-pop slaughterhouses are. You must surely have a couple in your rural area. Get to know them, and I bet you can get it – if not blood sausage, then pig blood to make your own “boudin noir”.
    Bonne chance.

  • Ed Bruske

    Local butchers would not be able to slaughter hogs for retails sales (or sell the resulting blood, I presume) unless it’s done in a USDA inspected facility. In theory, a local butcher could slaughter and sell for retail if he participated in a state inspection program. But New York does is one of the states that does not maintain a state inspection program. You could get fresh pigs blood if you slaughtered the hogs yourself. We did that at our friend Brett’s farm years ago. I wrote about it at length in some of my original blog posts.

  • sylvie in rappahannock

    oh, interesting (and disappointing) Ed about the state inspection or rather absence thereof in NY. The lack of small slaughterhouses is definitively a hindrance for the small farms (and customers who want to get their hands on those animals)

  • Ed Bruske

    That’s the bade news, Sylvie. The good news is, we have a USDA facility fairly close by.

  • Joanna Cary

    Loving hearing about this new way of life, Ed – and I well remember the post about pig slaughtering. We’ve kept pigs each summer for the past few years, buying weaners (not enough space here to keep a breeding sow) in spring and slaughtering them in the autumn – and we have the same problems here in the UK with small slaughterhouses closed. There used to be one about 10 minutes’ drive away, but now we have to go about an hour in either direction. We haven’t made black puddings, because I can’t persuade my younger son, the main pigman, that it’s worth the trouble of making. Oh well.

  • Ed Bruske

    Joanna, you can make black pudding for me! Just tell me when!

    The pork I wrote about in my post this morning was slaughtered at Eagle Bridge Custom Meat & Smokehouse, a USDA-inspected facility less than 9 miles south of us. That’s a very lucky coincidence.