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September 7, 2010

Self-Promotion: Butchery in AM New York

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Butchery Alert: This morning AM New York, one of the local free dailies bought one of my photos from this spring's From Pig to Pork event at Fleisher's. The story is a travel feature on trips to "sharpen your chef skills."

Thanks to Jessica Applestone for putting me in touch with the piece's writer, Kristen Brown.

You can download the pdf of the issue or just grab a copy this morning if you're in town.

May 16, 2010

Pig to Pork: Hair Removal

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As part of my butchery project, I attended "From Pig to Pork" hosted by Fleisher's. There we witnessed the transition from animal to meat and the prep that takes it from the farm to our table. I'll be posting with observations about experience both at the farm and in the shop. Just a heads up, some of the photos are pretty graphic. The point here is to appreciate the value of the process through potentially challenging images, not to gross anyone out, so feel free to skip this post if it's not your thing.

So, the first thing to know is that all pigs are not pink and hairless like what you've seen on TV. Heritage breeds in particular often have hair, which makes sense since the idea is that they haven't been cross-bred for convenience. The pig slaughtered at the event had red, spotted hair.

One of the reasons we've come to expect pale, pink hairless pigs is because the factory farms have engineered breeds to reduce the effort needed to process their animals. They're inbred and have to live in clean rooms because of how susceptible they are to disease, but once they're dead they don't need a haircut.

That's not to belittle the effort that goes into the process. It's not so pretty. More on that after the jump.

Continue reading "Pig to Pork: Hair Removal" »

May 9, 2010

Pig to Pork: Pork Blood

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As part of my butchery project, I attended "From Pig to Pork" hosted by Fleisher's. There we witnessed the transition from animal to meat and the prep that takes it from the farm to our table. I'll be posting with observations about experience both at the farm and in the shop. Just a heads up, some of the photos are pretty graphic. The point here is to appreciate the value of the process through potentially challenging images, not to gross anyone out, so feel free to skip this post if it's not your thing.

After an animal is killed, its blood must be drained out quickly so it doesn't clot and get in the way of the meat. Pork blood is often used for making blood sausage, so it doesn't just get thrown away.

The roughly two quarts of blood that came out of the pig slaughtered for the pig to pork class at Fleisher's was drained into this bowl. They stirred it constantly with sea salt in order to keep it from coagulating.

Regardless of your taste for such things, one must recognize how efficient it is to utilize as much of the animal as possible.

May 6, 2010

From Pig to Pork: The Slaughter

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As part of my butchery project, I attended "From Pig to Pork" hosted by Fleisher's. There we witnessed the transition from animal to meat and the prep that takes it from the farm to our table. I'll be posting with observations about experience both at the farm and in the shop. Just a heads up, some of the photos are pretty graphic. The point here is to appreciate the value of the process through potentially challenging images, not to gross anyone out, so feel free to skip this post if it's not your thing.


I've been putting off posting about the actual slaughter part of From Pig to Pork for a little while now. Not because it was life-changing or traumatic or anything. It was actually quite fast. Hans, a retired Master Butcher from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) walked into the small horse trailer that the pig had spent the night and shot it.

We didn't see the pig before that. Most likely for both our benefit and the pig's, Hans left the door to the pig's compartment closed when killing it. He was concerned about people freaking out about the whole thing and decided to deal with that part of it behind closed door.

Similarly, I'll leave the details of the deed for after the jump.

Continue reading "From Pig to Pork: The Slaughter" »

May 3, 2010

Butchery: From Pig to Pork

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Last weekend's trip to Fleisher's in Kingston, NY was instigated by an event they were having called "From Pig to Pork." The premise of the class being to take 'civilians' a step beyond the butchering classes. We went out to a farm in Stone Ridge, about half an hour away from the shop to see the actual slaughter of a pig and the subsequent prep work that is done before it's sent to a butcher.

In other hands, a grisly scene like this could be tastelessly sensationalized, but led off with an introduction by Jessica Applestone, Fleisher's owner and wife of "Moo-ru" Josh Applestone, the event was soberly presented. The point of the exercise is to further bring home the point that our food comes from animals not boxes, they were alive and were killed to feed us. Given that, it's imperative to utilize as much of them as we can, not pick out a few choice lean cuts and let the rest rot.

I've got more than a few observations and photos that I'll be posting over the next couple weeks under the header: From Pig to Pork. The photos may be a bit macabre here and there, but I'll do my best to keep those after the jump, so as to avoid freaking anyone out.

In the meantime, if you'd like to see the photos from without all my insightful commentary, they are posted in a set on Flickr.


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