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Home Butchering

December 19, 2010

During the past year Ellen Malloy has been very busy and stressed out launching a new online restaurant marketing tool.  By her own admission she has “checked out” a little on the homestead food preservation and cooking that she would normally do.  Despite that, she converted her entire backyard to garden, made limoncello, tonic water, ginger beer and root beer from scratch, cured bacon, canned tomatoes and jams, and I’m sure other crazy things that are escaping me right now.  There is a drive in Ellen to do things from scratch and to put up foods for later.  She can open a delicious jar of “summer” anytime she likes.  For her, that is ‘fast food’.

Yesterday, she butchered a two-hundred pound pig in her residential kitchen.

Yup, you read that right.

But ok, she had some serious professional help.  Rob Levitt formerly of the restaurant Mado has become so fascinated with breaking down whole animals that he is leaving the chef side of things and opening his own custom butcher shop, Butcher and Larder.  Chicago is hugely lucky to have him.  The contribution this sort of butchering will make to our food community is wonderful.  Rob (and other chefs doing snout to tail cooking) wants us all to think more carefully about where our meat comes from and what’s involved in getting a pork chop onto your plate.  Have you ever given any thought, for example, to the fact that a pig only has two tenderloins?  So what?  Well, for every “prime cut” like that you buy, you are effectively neglecting the rest of the animal.  To be a thoughtful carnivore, you need to be less wasteful and more appreciative of the other cuts.  After yesterday, I’m probably more jazzed about checking in with my local farmer for some leaf lard than I am for a tenderloin or pork chop.  I even know what to do with trotters now.

So Ellen asked Rob to come to her home with a pig and teach her to break it down.  Paul Fehribach, chef at Big Jones, caught wind of all this and wanted to be there too, just to offer help and learn…well, and to provide some amazingly delicious moon pies, because what would a home pig butchery be without moon pies, yum!  I was there to haul cuts out to the garage to chill and of course to take pictures.  And to learn!

I’ll post again soon with my thoughts on the day, but this post is all about the photos, so here you go:

Coaching

Chef Paul Fehribach trimming tenderloin

Belly and ribs

The 'butcher's grip' is the proper way to hold the knife

Paul removing skin which will become chiccerones

Tasty, porky snack on a quick corn cake with chow chow!

One belly for bacon, one for pancetta

Here comes the second half for Ellen to work on

Go Ellen, go!

Proud butcheress

Kidney soaking in milk

There were large pork parts everywhere!

Future pork chops

Beautiful, extra-thick chops

Salted and curing

Leaf fat becomes ciccioli - tasty, crispy bits!

Meat hooks

______________________________

Links you should follow to learn more:

On Ellen’s blog, Yard Farm:

The Making of a Butcheress wherein Ellen describes her reasoning for doing this
The Butcheress: I Have Named The Pig wherein she, well, names the pig and begins to dream of tasty dishes
The Butcheress: Condemned By A Seven-Year Old behold the contradictions in our food system!
The Butcheress: The Morning After (I need a pill!) Ellen’s full description of the day and a preservation plan for all that pork!

On Rob’s blog, Butcher’s Grip:

Yes You Can Rob publicly responds to Ellen’s request for help and tells us why he’ll do it
Relationships here Rob reflects on food and butchery as relationship building, not just eating

Soapbox go here to see what chefs are up to and what they’re like personally, all from the mastermind that is Ellen Malloy!

Butcher and Larder

12 Comments leave one →
  1. elliecm permalink
    December 19, 2010 8:52 pm

    Rob and I just read this! AMAZING! THANKS GRANT! (awesome shots)

  2. December 19, 2010 9:11 pm

    love it!

  3. Lauren permalink
    December 20, 2010 6:01 pm

    Amazing photos Grant! You really captured some great moments!

  4. Ann F. permalink
    December 21, 2010 3:20 pm

    Grant – absolutely fantastic photos and blog entry! What an experience. Amazing!

  5. Tatiana permalink
    December 22, 2010 1:17 am

    Loved following this whole experience. Thanks for sharing the photos.

  6. December 24, 2010 12:02 am

    wonderful photographs! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Jerry permalink
    December 24, 2010 8:21 pm

    I read some of Ellen’s reflections (the kid calling her a murderer was pretty funny, actually) and I loved her directness and honesty. If you’re going to consume meat, getting it from a farmer that treats his animals humanely and slaughters it with minimal pain and suffering is the responsible thing to do. The moral thing. And frankly, knowing that meat doesn’t originate in plastic and styrofoam packs in the meat section at your local super is a step in the right direction. I’m more comfortable with your photos of planting and harvesting vegetables, but this blog is definitely something different. And since we are on the subject, exactly where does the chicken and fish I consume come from? I’m going to look into that a little closer. Oh, by the way, Merry Christmas!

Trackbacks

  1. The Butcheress: In Pictures |
  2. Announcing, Chefs And Their Spoons! « My Foodshed
  3. Ciccioli a la The Butcher and Butcheress | From Belly to Bacon
  4. Know Your Salami « My Foodshed
  5. Farmers Do Not Raise Tenderloins « My Foodshed

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