"... you are the only person i know who would be excited about a pig butchering class," she said.
And I had to laugh. It's probably true, to great extent. But, I don't think it would have always been the case.
If someone had suggested to me ten years ago that we'd be interested in breaking down the primal cuts of a pig, I probably would have fallen off my chair laughing. Why on earth would anyone need to know how do that?
But, things change. And these days, we're increasingly interested in the ins and outs of the food we eat. If we're going to consume meat, we want to know the details about it -- where it came from, how the animals were treated, and what impact our decision to eat that particular meat has on the environment. If I decide to order a portion of pig from a local farm, I'm interested to know which cuts are available to me -- and become more well informed about how to use and modify them. Likewise, when I'm buying a package of meat from the butcher, I'd like to know I'm getting the cut I requested.
More importantly, Peef REALLY wanted to see firsthand where that delicious slab of pork belly comes from. And so, the opportunity to harvest his own bacon became a part of his birthday present.
To be honest, the experience was pretty amazing. Although we weren't complete newbies on the topic of how cuts of meat are prepared, we did learn a great deal about the versatility of different portions of a pig -- about the options for obtaining ribs and pork chops, and why certain portions of meat are named as they are
Boston Butt, for instance, is really part of the shoulder... so why on earth is it called butt?? Well, in the early days of pork processing in the U.S., less valued pork cuts like shoulder cuts were packed into casks or barrels (also known as "butts") for storage and shipment. Since many of these "butts" originated in the boston area, the way the hog shoulder was cut became known regionally as "Boston butt."
If you're interested in seeing a summary of our course in photos, take a gander at the slideshow.
So, what's your perspective? Would you take a hog butchering class?
©BURP! Where Food Happens
Want more? Read Lo's latest ruminations at FOODCrush, her Milwaukee Magazine blog.