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Butchery: In the Cabrito Kitchen

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Last week, I took my butchery project out of the shop into a restaurant kitchen. I went to Cabrito, one of my favorite spots for Mexican in town. After months of email tag with the Chef, David Schuttenberg, we finally nailed down a time for me to come in to photograph him as he took apart a pair of young goats for the week's supply of the restaurant's signature dish.

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It was all very interesting for a few reasons. First off, goats are fairly different from most other animals I've seen taken apart before. David said they are more like rabbits than anything else. They're lean and lithe with fewer 'cuts' as such on them. That's particularly true of the young ones like they get at Cabrito and that they're carrying at Dicksons.

I was shocked at how quick the whole process was. That's in part because he wasn't cutting up chops or roasts like one would for a pig or a cow, but also because the goat just doesn't have nearly as much meat to it.

more photos and prep after the jump...

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Before he started, David apologized for the lack of finesse in his technique. He made it clear that he doesn't think of himself as much of a butcher. His main purpose of taking apart the goats is to separate out the cuts that require different cooking methods and the organs that need to be tossed or treated in a particular way.

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The head and neck (a special order item that has to be reserved), ribs, legs, backbone and loins all go in together (in pieces, above) to be prepared the same way, more or less. But, the kidneys and liver apparently just don't amount to anything tasty, while parts like the heart and belly can't just be tossed in the same braise as the rest of the meat.

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While he was still cutting, he was also starting the marinating process, slathering the meat with his marinade and layering it all together.

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It was quite cool for me just being in a professional kitchen. It's an interesting place to be and mid-day, when it's quiet, provided a good time for me to look around a little without being in the way.

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I know I've already talked of wanting to explore rabbit this year and about how I want to try deboning a pig's head, like Ryan Farr did, but I'm also really interested in doing more with goat. I have been for a while and after seeing the goats hanging at Dickson's I'm really tempted to make one the star attraction at a summer barbecue. We'll just have to see how it all works out.

See the whole set of photos on Flickr.

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