At last, the wait is over. The time has come for Pig Weekend, where the Italian Delle Donne family get together on their farm Zandam near Paarl. Two days of family bonding and sharing in the preparation and enjoyment of some of their farms finest product. This was their twenty second year together and even with concerns that the annual gathering would be rained out, everyone was in good spirits. It turned into the most beautiful day which set the scene perfectly for some seriously tasty shenanigans.
A slightly smaller family group this year, but with no less joie de vivre than usual, this is Pig Weekend in pictures.
The men in the family gathered on the farm in the morning on Friday, and it took them the good part of the day to skin, bone, mince, grind, chop, spice, fill, twist, prick and cure three and a half pigs to make pancetta, coppa, salami, salciccia, cotechini, kaaings, lard, skillpaatjies and an assortment of other tasty porcine treats.
The Deboning Crew: Michael, Simon, Fabio, Tino & Robert
Cobus’ knife skills are pretty impressive. He left just enough meat on that rib carcass for some seriously delicious braai’ed bones.
Naas and Wally show off their just-boned legs which are about to be covered in salt for the curing process.
You can see Luigi’s handled a bandsaw before – he’s not even looking! Fabio clearly didn’t have breakfast and attempts to snack on some skin.
Filling, pricking, weaving and pressing salciccia and salami is serious business, so everyone gets involved. A good 150kg of salciccia and salami was the result of the guys’ combined efforts.
The salciccia & salami are then taken to the cold room and are hung next to 1 and 2 year old proscuitto.
The men spent the night on the farm around the fireside bonding, and even watched a movie projected onto the side of one of the farm’s delivery trucks. In the morning, after a delicious frittata breakfast they got back to work mincing the spiced meat from the evening before which was then made into salciccia and salami. They also chopped and set aside lard for kaaings and Tino got the pig’s head started on a slow braise over the coals. A little later on the ladies and friends of the family arrived, and things really started hotting up!
Tino shows Titina his braising pig’s head. That’s the tongue he’s poking there, which was very tasty. The cheek of the pig is a real delicacy, and there was a lot of elbowing for the good bits when it was eventually ready.
Robert, Margot and Ann catch up under the olive trees while they watch over the bones crackling away on the braai. With a splash of lemon juice and a healthy dose of braai salt, much slurping and murmurs of delight were heard all around the fireside.
The kaaings are the ladies’ job and we all took turns stirring the pot filled with chopped up pieces of lard, which rendered down after a few hours into crispy morsels and liquid lard. This is favored in Italian bread-making, for the incredible flavour it imparts.
Everything got mopped up with a piece of bread and it seemed as if the supply of amazing dishes would never end. From pork stir fry, roasted bones and frittata to a slow-braised pig’s head and porky samp & beans, the day turned into a feast for the senses.
Many thanks to the Delle Donne, Muller & Everson families for having me tag along again and for allowing me to capture this wonderful family occasion. It’s rare these days meeting a family who are so steeped in tradition and who keep these annual get-togethers in such high regard.
If you missed my post on Pig Weekend last year, have a peek at this.
* Kind thanks to Naas Muller & Cobus Uys for the use of some of their images.