I spent Sunday at la Cocina learning how to butcher a pig from Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats, formerly chef de cuisine at Orson. It was a thought-provoking and edifying experience. I gained a better understanding of how pork is produced, learned why various muscles/meats are cooked differently and was taught more precisely where they come from on the animal. It gave me a greater respect for my food, which is exactly what I was after when I signed up for the class.
I learned a great deal, had a great time and headed home with a huge pile of frenched rib roast, the accompanying boneless rib (great for the OMG Rib recipe), leg, neck, shoulder (the next victim of my Carnitas! recipe), two slabs of pork belly that I will be braising in wine country this weekend, and a foot, with which I am not quite sure what I will do. I had to turn down bones for making stock and skin for cooking with beans or tomatoes because I already had more meat than I was comfortable taking home on a bus through the Mission. If I ever get access to a steady supply of whole pigs, I’ll have to invest in a cool roasting box for the back patio.
Ryan was patient, friendly and thorough in his explanations, which took me by surprise, since every other chef I know is a bit of a prick. My only disappointment, and I don’t know how it could be remedied, is that I didn’t get to do as much of the butchering as I would have liked. Having a second pig would have helped, since many of the steps were done in the demonstration and could not be repeated, but that would have increased the price and the length of the class, neither of which appeals to me, so I really shouldn’t complain.
Overall, it was an outstanding experience and I am looking forward to future classes. Links to full gallery below.