Three words. Basic Beef Butchery. Followed by five words: Bob Dickson is the man. The PMC finally held its first beef class last Saturday. Twelve students. Five volunteers. One hindquarter. One forequarter. Three hundred pounds of meat and bone. It had been so long since I’d seen anything resembling a beef carcass (so used to lamb and pig and rabbits am I these days) that it’s largesse made me feel a little bit like a dwarf attempting to take on Moby Dick with a less-than-perfunctory letter opener. Not that I did much cutting. We let Bob Dickson, of Dayton Natural Meats and Pacific Foods, a man with way more decades of experience than any of us in the room that day, do just about all the talking and cutting. It’s hard enough trying to wrap the mind around deboning a pork leg for the first time, so the student’s eyes were that much bigger when they watched Bob pull out the dinosaur bone that made up one of the steer’s back walking sticks. There was so much meat to contend with, so many muscle groups to keep track of, and yet the students (and the volunteers) stuck in there, asking questions, rather gracefully slicing rib-eyes, and sawing marrow bones so that everyone would have at least one or two to take home. It was an important day for the PMC, proving that beef didn’t have to be the intimidating beast it is believed to be. With a graceful teacher like Bob and open, curious students like the ones we had on Saturday, we discovered that carving up a steer is graspable at the very least, and very doable–with a little practice and good guidance–at best. Keep your eye out for more beef classes–focusing on whole carcass as well as smaller primals–come April.
After successfully introducing our first beef class, our first rabbit class, and our first ladies-only butchery class in January and February, we’ve got more new classes to offer in March and April, as well as several trusty classics. Lamb cookery with Park Kitchen’s David Padberg anyone? Ready to try your hand at terrines and pâtés? Learn the secrets of emulsification with Grain & Gristle’s Ben Meyer–who, on an entirely unrelated note, just recently served me the best pickled duck tongue I’ve ever had.
Adam Sappington will return in April to share his pig butchery skills, Gabriel Claycamp is back for more charcuterie antics, and, I’m very excited to announce that my French mentors, Dominique Chapolard and Kate Hill are traveling to Portland all the way from France to teach another French Seam Butchery class in Portland. I haven’t even announced the latter yet, and people are already wanting to sign up!
This March/April schedule is only partially complete. I’m in the process of confirming dates for another beef class, as well as some more slaughter classes: not only chickens and rabbits, but a potential pig slaughter class with two of the PMC’s trusted volunteers: Sarah and Bubba King, who lovingly raised a couple of Red Wattles that are getting just a little too big for their britches. I’ll announce the rest of the classes as soon as we’ve settled on dates. Let’s get to it, then!
NOTE: Thanks to Lisa Teso for these photos. You can check out more of her photos of our classes at her website!