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