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“How to Skin a Pig”

They say that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. But as far as I know, there’s really only one way to skin a pig. And anyway, I think they’re lying about the cat.

If you’ve ever been to a butcher shop, this looks a little bit like what you’ll see there. Except we’re starting one step earlier while the skin is still on.

If the sight of butcher shops makes you squeemish, or seeing more than a boneless chicken breast makes your stomach turn, then this is not the post for you. Check back in a few days when I’m going to post about pumpkin custards. They are much less controversial.

Otherwise, here we go!

1. Expose the Achilles tendons right below the feet cutting a seam and pulling the skin back. Hook the pig by its Achilles onto a hook, so that it is hanging head down.

2. If you have a partner this will go more easily. But either way hold the skin with one hand and with a small knife loosen it by cutting the white fatty tissue between the flesh and hair.

3. Be especially careful about the rectal area, since it still likely needs to be hosed off and you don’t want to spread any extra bacteria around. You’ll want to cut that piece out more fully with your knife.

4. Continue to pull down and release the fatty tissue on both sides. You have to get close to the flesh. Cutting close to the hair will make it virtually impossible to cut through.

5. Once you get to the front legs, cut seams along the legs and peel the skin off until you get to the feet. Sever the space between the bone and the hoof and leave the hoof with the skin.

6. When all of the skin has fallen to the head, this is when you’ll need a saw or another person. I was lucky, because I had an extra person. I held on really tight while he twisted. And off it came.

7. Inspect the inside chest cavity for any extra bits that can be cut out, like extra skin, fat or organ bits.

8. Power wash. This will help get off extra coarse hairs and grass from the ranch, woods and fields it was hanging out in.

9. It will look clean like this, the way you’d see it in a butcher shop or in a window in Chinatown.

10. You can take this to a taxidermist, who will make the skull into a nice looking European style skull (this means no fur, just skull mounted). Or, depending on the season, you can have the skin made into a rug. If the animal is already shedding though, that means it will keep shedding and won’t make a good rug. It depends on the season and where it is in its hair growth cycle.

Do you have anything to add? Have you ever skinned an animal for dinner? Tell us about it in the comments.

Tomorrow we butcher! See you then.


Photos by Gordon Pellegrini Photography

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  1. Georgia, are you a fugitive on the run? Can't see your face in any of the pictures. I remember this kind of stuff from "hog killing time" when I was a kid. My dad and brother would drop the hog into a vat of really hot water, then scrape the hair off with a knife or a jar lid. So, does the Javelina taste anything like store bought type pork or is it very gamey? Can they be cooked whole like at a pig roast for BBQ'n? We call it a pig pickin' here in North Carolina you know. My family sells one of the best pig cookers anywhere around. Check out the link at http://www.carolinacookers.com. Really enjoy your blogs, just found you the other day and already a fan. Be Blessed!!! –Big Steve

  2. Hey Georgia,

    Just found your website because of the braised rabbit article on ESPN Outdoors.

    I've always wondered about hunting Javelina, but never got around to it because I wasn't sure how it would taste. Looking forward to how you prepare it!!

  3. You didn't post the gutting part?
    Is Javelina tough or gamey? I've never seen it on a menu unless they simply call it wild boar. Also probably because I'm a Yankee.

    My son got a three by four elk this morning! Opening day with four inches of new snow. We're so excited!

  4. Very informative!

  5. Girl, you impress me! Not sure I could do this, but I would love to eat the fresh cuts of pork ;)

  6. Swell skinning.