In the past, say, three years, foodists have become increasingly blasé about being presented with a freshly killed whole beast and a big knife. Butchered a whole pig? Been there done that. Give me the cow.
Between 4505 Meats butchery displays at the annual Cochon 555 pig bacchanalia, butchery demo happy hours at the Fatted Calf, Bloodhound's butchery and bacon parities of a few years back and John Fink's The Whole Beast, there's been no end of help—and the education continues. Our greatest local butchers are meeting the demand with all sorts of butchery 101. The classes are booking out months in advance. Here's a little list of some of the best places to learn about shanks, sausages and what have you. BYOCleaver.
Avedano's butchers David Budworth and Chris Arentz will teach all about breaking down a pig into different parts at a hands-on class held at Soul Food Farm in Vacaville this Sunday. John Fink of The Whole Beast will roast half a pig over an open fire while schooling on proper cooking technique. Then everyone gets to dig in. There will be hands-on work for those students interested and each person will go home with cuts of pork. More info and tickets here.
If you're busy this weekend, Avedano's also holds monthly butchery classes at its space in Bernal Heights. They give participants access to full-on pig and lamb carcasses to break down. Lunch, $100 worth of freshly butchered meat, and three-hours of hands-on instruction are included in the $300 ticket price. Graduates can move on to Avendano's advanced classes. See all the options here.
Taylor Boetticher opened his Hayes Valley outpost of Fatted Calf with a die-hard devotion to demystifying the whole beast. He hosts several monthly classes on everything from duck butchery (duck! the new pig) to sausage making to breaking down a whole hog. Each one lasts four hours, including lunch and meat goodies, like terrine, to take home. Info here.
4505 Meats teaches small classes according to the animal of interest, be it cow, lamb or hog. Learn how to break down each one under the watchful eye of master butcher Ryan Farr. Each class ends with sausage, Farr's famous chicharrones and a tasting of freshly butchered meats. Info here.
Finally, Town Cutler, a brand new knife sharpening and retail shop that just opened last week, will start offering classes once they settle in. Owner Galen Garretson plans to teach knife-skills monthly along with butchering demos geared so attendees can learn proper techniques for various animal types. Look out for the classes on the shop's website here.
Have a first hand butchery class experience or thoughts to share? Please feel free in the comments section.