And at Thanksgiving everyone's mission is the same. Cranberries appear in stacked bags. Yams are moved from their forgotten dusty heap to front row center. Yellow cornmeal sells out. Canned pumpkin is restocked in the middle aisle. Free turkeys, fed by God knows what, are borne triumphantly from chainstores that give away a bird if you spend so much. Everyone buys brussels sprouts. This is not an anti 'sprout country. No smell-memories of boiled-to-mush brussels sprouts at boarding school.
So I seek a pig. Not one who should be casting nasturtiums at turkeys fed antibiotics and hormones via drip, I am looking for a supermarket smoked shoulder. I would buy the organic version, but at upwards of $75 it's not in le budget. And trust me, no one ever, ever, questioned the origin of the Ginger Ale Pig. They just eat it and cry quietly for all the times in their lives when there was no Ginger Ale Pig...
It should be a pickled pig shoulder. But you tell me where to find one and I'll buy it...yeah, I know, a butcher in the Main Road, Claremont. It's too far.
So: a smoked pork shoulder WITH skin
About 3 bottles ginger ale
8 bay leaves
8 juniper berries, crushed
2 tsp powdered coriander
half a head of garlic, cloves flattened
Start this 24 hours before you wish to eat the animal.
The Packaged Pig (good restaurant name).
The Unwrapped Pig (strip joint for livestock?).
Pig and spices in a large stockpot, completely covered with liquid. If you don't have enough ginger ale, top with water. It must be well covered.
Bring to a boil. Put the lid on, and make sure it stays at a strong simmer for 30 minutes. Now comes the fun part:
Prepare a bed for the pig. It needs to be very well insulated overnight. I start with a feather pillow, protected with a cloth in case anything spills. I put it in a corner so I don't trip over it.
I put the pot carefully on the cushion and then I wrap a nice warm blanket around the sides and tuck it in.
I put a folded kikoi over the lid and tuck.
Then I wrap Estorbo's cashmere blanket around the first blanket.
Then I put another feather pillow on top.
And the piece de resistance. My mother's schmink. I can't think of a better use for it
Whatever you use, it should keep the pig hot for 8-12 hours so that it cooks super-slow.
...and tomorrow? We shall see what we see.
Go here for Part the Second - baking and glazing of the pig.
* No minks were harmed for the making of this pig. They are vintage minks, which I inherited, and I wear them with difficulty, and hardly ever. They are warm, though. Poor minks.