Most people are probably familiar with debris gravy as the stuff you see in po boy shops, slathered on roast beef or turkey po boys, usually a beef gravy base with ends, pieces, and trimmings from turkeys, hams, and roast beef thrown in. This is good stuff, but before there was the po boy shop debris gravy, there was Cajun debris – the hog butchering day dish of odd bits and parts that was long-simmered in gravy and eaten with grits or on rice (here we’re dancing closely with the South Carolina BBQ hash dish) as a hearty, satisfying meal during a long work day outside. Since we work exclusively with whole hogs, I often find inspiration in these traditional whole-hog dishes from the Cajuns.
We’re working with the Cajun debris here, starting with a hog’s head (trimmed of the jowls, which we cook with crowder peas or use in liver pudding,) kidney, heart, and ham trimmings. A long, slow-cooked dark roux is cooked with trinity and a fair amount of garlic, then slowly thinned, whisking constantly, with the gelatin-rich stock of the hog’s head, then enriched with all of the organ meats and trimmings, seasoned with house-blended Cajun seasoning and Worcestershire, and simmered until the “debris” in the gravy begins to fall apart and the whole loosens into a smooth, gelatinous gravy that will stick to your ribs.
The gravy is served over our lard-based farmstead biscuits and flanked with voodoo greens and two poached eggs from Moore Family Farm. This is exactly the kind of food the diet police love poo-pooing but I’ll add that this is a treasure trove of free amino acids and readily available dietary protein in the form of collagen and gelatin. It’s rich, savory, and profoundly nutritious. And, the lard in the biscuits represents a broad spectrum of fatty acids your body needs, and since it’s baked and not fried or overheated it’s not in an oxidized state. So, while this is calorie-rich food you may not want to eat three times a day, it’s an awesome part of a traditional whole-hog diet, which has served us well for generations.