I have commissioned a pig from a local farmer and it will be going to the butcher soon. It turns out that I can have it butchered to my specific requests. Has anyone done this before and have any recommendations?
Specifically, should I have the bacon sliced or leave it in slabs (Alton Brown says slab is better but how hard is it to cut)? What is the best way to have the shoulder cut? I am thinking a picnic roast and a butt. What is the best way to deal with the loin. Will each side give just one tenderloin and one "center cut loin" for a roast? If I get those will there be any back left for pork chops? Any recommendations for the back leg? Ham vs. roast?

2 Answers 2


Lucky you. I usually have all the shoulders split in two, cured and smoked, hocks and shanks smoked, belly smoked (bacon). Some roasts and the rest into chops and steaks.

Your cut and wrap (butcher) will put things up the way you ask, so have him put up meal size bits. The usual way to receive custom cut and wraped meat is frozen, haven't heard of anyone getting it fresh..there's just too much of it.

I like my pigs between 105 - 110 kilos/230 -240 pounds on the hoof; seems to give the right lean/fat ratio. They grow them much fatter in some places, China is one.

You can have the shoulders left whole, that is a fairly large cut of meat though, better to have them cut into hams and picnics. Have them cut your shanks and hocks up a bit too.

Custom cut and wrap outfits that are good are very good, some of them make excellent sausage, which brings this consideration into the mix, I would recommend trying the sausage you are thinking of having made first.

Finally, the smoke on your very own pig parts will totally blow any other smoked pork product flavors out of the water, there is just no comparison.

enjoy :)


I would base my decision on when you plan on eating it... If you'll be eating it in the next 2 or 3 weeks, then I would have it sliced to what your ultimate goal. Larger chunks of meat should store better, so if you plan on storing it for awhile I would have it cut into larger slabs and then shave off what you need when you need it...

I don't know if you've ever tried to shave frozen bacon vs thawed bacon, but frozen bacon is like cutting butter, and thawed bacon is a knife accident waiting to happen from the room temperature fat.

For cheaper cuts of meat (like bacon), I will often freeze it just to make my life easier (as it comes to shaving/cuttiing)...

In short, I'm voting that you have it cut in chunks and then shave it later!

  • Def depends on how long you plan to keep it.
    – NBenatar
    Aug 9, 2011 at 14:10
  • Excellent points, thanks - that answers the bacon portion! Anybody have clues about the rest of the pig?
    – Jen
    Aug 10, 2011 at 16:52

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