Butchery refers to using knives, saws, and/or cleavers to transform a whole or half animal (that has already been slaughtered and eviscerated) into cuts like steaks, chops, and roasts. Butchery and slaughter are two different processes. Our butchery classes typically do not include slaughter instruction, unless otherwise noted.
There is no single way to butcher. How one butchers an animal depends on what they plan on doing with the meat in the end. Our goal is to teach people to think critically and economically about how and how often they are going to eat meat, and to then inform their approach to butchery based on those decisions. We also always teach students that every part of the animal is edible if you know how to cut it, cure it, and/or cook it right. We do not believe in a hierarchy of cuts. Therefore, our butchery classes are always whole-animal focused.
Charcuterie & Cooking Classes
Charcuterie refers to various forms of meat preservation, from fresh sausages to duck
prosciutto, pâté, rillette, hams, bacon, pancetta, porchetta, and more. Traditionally,
these recipes were developed by peasants to make meat last longer. For our charcuterie-focused classes,
students often go home with charcuterie they have prepped in class, but not always.
Sometimes the charcuterie is simply eaten during our light meal at the end of class. Some of our charcuterie classes focus on cooked "kitchen" charcuterie, like pâté and sausage, while some focus on air-dried and/or "cured" products, like prosciutto or pancetta. For classes that focus on the latter, we may help students start their ham or pancetta in class, but it is their responsibility to take these items home and safely monitor them during the fermenting, curing, drying, and/or smoking phases. We also offer classes that focus on cooking fresh cuts of meat for non-charcuterie purposes.
Before teaching students how to cook or cure meat, we encourage them to think about the story of the animal the meat came from. What did this animal eat during its life time? How much was it allowed to move around? What breed was it? All of this informs the flavor and texture of the meat and it tells us how we should work with it in the kitchen. Should we braise it or fry it? Salt it and dry it? The story of the animal always matters in the kitchen.
Slaughter refers to killing an animal for food and is different from the process of butchery. In our slaughter classes we teach students how to slaughter humanely, with the quality of the end meat-product in mind, but also the quality of the animal's last moments in mind too. For our small-animal/bird slaughter classes, students are provided an animal to slaughter. Students go home with the carcass. Our large-animal slaughter classes are typically demonstration only. Students do not go home with carcasses or meat, as the farmer usually raised the animal for his own personal consumption.
Choosing to witness or take part in slaughter is an actively personal choice. We understand that not everyone wants to take part in it. But as people who choose to eat meat, we feel that shying away from this process, remaining ignorant of it, or shunning those of us who choose to take part, is also an active choice. It is a choice that does not, unfortunately, exempt any us from responsibility. It is our belief that were those of us who choose to eat meat more aware of the myriad ways meat can get to our table (both humane and inhumane, sustainable and unsustainable) we might make very different choices about where we want the meat we eat to come from and how much meat we are willing to eat.