Trigger warning: this post is not for vegetarians.
As part of their residency in Shreveport, Sarah and Evan were asked to demonstrate how to butcher a whole hog. The program was designed for professionals so that they would consider buying whole animals or primal cuts instead of just ordering chops or steaks from the restaurant food supply company. In that way, they could use everything, both as a cost-saving measure and as a way to think of new uses for meat cuts that they had never tried before.
No, Sarah did not slaughter the pig, but it came close: the animal was bled, skinned, and cleaned of offal, but otherwise it came snout to tail with suggestions on how to use every part.
Sarah’s tools included knives that she spent all morning sharpening, a big cleaver, and a hack saw that she bought from the hardware store.
The audience included restaurant professionals, enthusiastic amateurs, old folks who recalled butchering a hog on their grandparents’ farm, farmers from the farmers market who were interested in sustainable farming, and students from the local culinary training program who mostly slept in the back of the hall.
Evan talked while Sarah talked and demonstrated how to separate the various cuts of meat. She carved out the tenderloin, chops, roasts, hams, and pork belly. She showed how to trim excess fat, and how to remove silver skin for a more tender cut of meat.
In the end, she demonstrated how to get hog cheeks – a delicacy – and what to do with the whole head. Several older people were very interested in that because they remembered making souse and head cheese when they were younger.
In the end, it turned out not to be a beautiful or tasty demonstration, but one that everyone found interesting – except the culinary students.