Hog Butcher for the World...
Chicago (Chicago Poems, Carl Sandburg, 1916)
Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:
They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people, Laughing!
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.
The Union Stockyards
The Union Stock Yards and Transit Company formed in 1864 to consolidate the widespread, smaller stockyards common at the time. Changes in rail transportation made it expedient to bring animals from all over the United States to a central location to be slaughtered and butchered and then shipped out in a packaged and prepared form. By 1865, 320 acres of swampland southwest of the evergrowing City of Chicago were bought and channels were cut to drain the area into the South fork of the South Branch of the Chicago River. The newly built "Yards", as they came to be known, were connected to the main rail lines passing throught the city by 15 miles of track.
The growth was dramatic. By 1900, 82 % of United States meat consumption was supplied by the Yards and 25,000 people were employed to produce this abundance of meat. The Yards had grown to 475 acres and had 130 miles of track along its perimeter, along with 50 miles of road within its borders. At its height, in the 1920s, the Yards grew to one square mile and employed 40,000 people in total. The first truly global multinational corporations, Armour and Swift, were prominent players in the development of the meatpacking industry and made the Yards what they were. By the 1930s, the Stockyards built the International Amphitheatre as a means to showcase the livestock. Eventually, the Amphitheatre outlived the stockyards by a number of years and became the venue for a number of rock shows, rodeos, religious conventions, and the infamous 1968 Democratic National Convention.
Between 1908 and 1957, the Yards even had its own L line to bring in the workers and tourists.
Stockyard "L" Being Built
I was alive when the line was running, but I never rode on it... I guess my mom didn't want me making a scene by trying to get to the meat! My first and only memory of the Yards was when my Mom took us to Rodeo Shows at the Amphitheatre when I was about 8 years old. We would take the Congress L to Halsted and then transfer to the #8 Halsted bus to go south to the show at 42nd Street. I remember getting on the bus and seeing the University of Illinois Chicago Circle Campus being built and my mom presciently saying that maybe, someday, I would go to college there.
Behavioral Sciences Building at UICC Under Construction
The rodeos were awesome and my brother and I enjoyed them thoroughly. I remembered seeing nicely penned and groomed stockyard animals (these were the showpiece animals, after all), although my mom mentioned that there were a whole lot of animals that weren't so lucky. I don't remember seeing any of the outdoor pens or the working area of the Yards.
My ham, in brine bag, taped to keep ham in the solution.
The tape is securing a tupperware bowl which is keeping the ham under the curing solution. The cardboard is keeping the solution from spreading out, making it difficult to cover the ham entirely.
5. After the ham is cured, smoke to desired flavor (mine was about 8 hours) with either hickory or fruit wood.
Ham in the Smoker
6. Even though this ham is cured and smoked, IT IS NOT COOKED! You could bake it in the oven at 350 degrees F. until 140 degrees internal temperature or make my Ham in Beer and Molasses.
A note about Curing. If you cure meat, you will change the flavor of the pork into a "ham" type flavor and give it that pink or rose color. You cannot get this flavor and color any other way. Curing means that you must use some form of sodium sulfite, sodium sulfate, or any of ten other sodium or potassium something or others. Curing prevents botulism from growing and leaving behind a toxin that can kill you. Curing salt is, itself, poisonous in large quantities. In the pioneer days, they didn't worry about using sodium sulfite. They just dug up salt and used it to cure their hams. What they didn't know was that natural salt contains saltpeter, which breaks down into sodium sulfite. It took the development of gunpowder for people to find out about saltpeter, so this whole curing thing is surrounded by the spectre of death.
What am I trying to say?
To get a ham, you must use either a curing salt (Prague Cure #1) or saltpeter. I chose to use Prague Cure #1 because it gives a precise amount of sodium sulfite and you limit the potential of getting sick from it. (Please note that Cure Salt (of whatever brand or name) is ALWAYS colored pink to differentiate it from regular salt. Its pink color does not contribute to the meat's pinkness after curing... that is a separate chemical reaction.) As I researched the web for this post, several people noted that you could get by with 3 teaspoons of cure in the recipe I gave you and it will still come out great. I would not go with less than that because of the botulism issues. Just my opinion.