***Warning!!! This post contains images of a whole pig being butchered. Some people may find these images offensive as the animal still has it’s face attached. Viewer discretion is advised.***
In the last year or so, I’ve become a big believer of not only eating animals that lived as healthy and happy as possible i.e. species appropriate diet and ideal living conditions, but I’ve decided to take that approach one step further in utilizing the whole animal, not just the choice cuts and ground meat. This mental shift started last year around this time (March/April) when I applied for my first ever hunting license. I had become interested in bowhunting when I read a guest post on Mark’s Daily Apple about the topic.
Now I realize that not everyone is a hunter. But I also notice that most people out there are so far removed from where their meat comes from that they get squeamish when they see an entire animal before it’s been broken down. This became abundantly clear this past weekend at Paleo f(x) when Danielle from Against All Grain posted a picture of the pig that was to be roasted for the presenters dinner and people got all up in arms about it. Even she admitted that she would prefer not to see whole animals but conceded that this is the reality. I
think know now that people would rather just assume that meat is grown as is in little vacuum sealed packages for us to eat, which is a real shame in my mind.
On thursday I was invited to come down to the Pete’s Paleo kitchen in San Diego to watch and hopefully learn how to break down a whole pig with proper butcher technique. Some of his friends were using his kitchen to shoot photos and video for a kickstarter campaign for a quality butcher shop in San Diego. Pete’s friend James, went through the apprenticeship program at the well known Lindy and Grundy in Los Angeles, and he was to be the one to break down and portion out the pig provided by Cook Pigs Ranch (a favorite of Civilized Caveman). Because of this, I wasn’t able to get any first hand cutting done, but I did get a few good photos and a great view of the whole process.
The pig arrived in two halves cut right down the middle lengthwise. We could see a whole cross section of the whole pig, including the head!
Sometimes you just gotta bring out the heavy artillery… like a hacksaw.
Removing the belly for none other than…BACON!
Watching this all unfold really lit a fire under me to learn how to break down animals, especially since I plan to make another few hunting trips this fall. I don’t think I can afford the $7,500 apprenticeship fee at Lindy and Grundy, but fortunately for me, my cousin bought a private lesson with them for the two of us on my birthday last year. Time to cash that in!
After the amazing display of butchery, we went back to Pete’s house to make some dinner and just shoot the breeze. On the way, we went to the market to pick up some ingredients. You can tell Pete is a skilled cook when he just browses around the store picking up ingredients that, in his words, ‘speak to him’ and can make an amazing meal. We, or more likely he, settled on grass fed short ribs, brown beech mushrooms, kale, beets, broccoli and some red pepper.
When we got back to his place he started prepping and getting everything going, all the while teaching me little hints and tricks that are utilized in fine dining including certain prep techniques and even braising techniques that I wouldn’t have thought of.
Some kale and broccoli added and sautéed.Beets cooked sous vide style on the stovetop DIY style!
Cannelle was underfoot the whole time. She wanted to get down on some of this food so bad.
Put it all together and this is what you get. It was so good I demolished it in record time.
After the amazing meal, me, Pete and his wife, Sarah were just taking it easy, talking and such when somehow the topic of poached eggs came up. The Food Lovers recently did a post on perfect poached eggs and I’ve done one in the past as well, but Pete decided that he would show me an even easier method. Seeing as eggs benedict is my favorite breakfast dish, I’m all for a simpler method to poach eggs.
It was a lot to take in over the course of one day, but I had an amazing time and couldn’t be more grateful to Pete and Sarah for letting me hang out with them for the day. I hope to come back again soon for sure.