More and more meat purveyors are offering seminars where you can watch beef butchering in action. It makes sense—they're going to be carving regardless, so why not let us watch? Plus, it's a pretty weird way to spend an afternoon. We recently went to a butchery demo at Dickson's Farmstand Meats in Manhattan with owner Jake Dickson and butcher Adam Tiberio.
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I'd never seen a pig eviscerated, and while the other organs appeared as expected, the lungs of the pig literally took my breath away. The edges of both the lung and the liver tapered to protracted edges, like that of hand-carved wooden spoons. I'd never seen such fresh-looking, beautiful lungs in my life, and almost immediately my stomach began to grumble.
If you ask for a pork brisket at the meat department of a regular supermarket, you may get a funny look from the person working behind the counter. "Beef brisket?" they'll ask, assuming that you want cow. A real butcher will know exactly what you want. Though brisket is the term applied to the bottom half of the shoulder section of the cow (not including shank), the same muscular groups can be found on the pig as well as the lamb, for that matter.
"It takes four cuts to break down a side of pig," Josh Applestone told me. "I can teach you how to do it in two hours, tops." Josh made good on that promise on my third day at his butcher shop Fleisher's Meats when, toward closing time, we stood at the table with a half side of pig and started from the beginning.
When Julie Powell, the Julie part of Julie & Julia, was reaching a rough patch of her marriage, she turned to butchery. What better way to vent all that aggressive marital tension than through hacking animal carcasses, right? Her book Cleaving came out last week and in this video, she talks about all the relationship metaphors—the cutting, the cleaving, the hurting—while butterflying a leg of lamb (compliments of rockstar Brooklyn butcher Tom Mylan of The Meat Hook). "I put [butchery] in the same class, this is going to sound strange, as say, knitting or gardening. There's something rote about it and yet it engages your mind and creativity, and it focuses on you," says Powell. Watch the video, after...