The Gourmet Butcher: How to Butcher a Cow, Pig, or Lamb

Update: Entries have been slow to come on the giveaway, so I’m going to move the date back to Friday, March 4, at midnight. Head down to the bottom of the post to see how you can enter…

Please note: I received two free copies of The Gourmet Butcher DVD set: one for reviewing, and one for giving away. Take a look below to find out how you can enter our drawing.

Local foodies often tend to talk a lot about produce, and that makes sense: it’s often cheaper to buy fruits and veggies locally, and almost anyone can handle the processing tasks. But meat? Sure, many people do buy beef, pork, and chicken locally from farms that use more sustainable and humane practices… but you’re often looking at purchasing a carcass or a portion of one (i.e. Β a side or quarter of beef) in those situations. No doubt you’re getting quality meat, and a wide variety of potential cuts… but how do you get from that massive hunk of meat to steaks, roasts, and chops?

Sure, you could take it to a butcher shop… but that’s adding cost (and, apparently, buying this way isn’t that much cheaper than the grocery store norm). Or, you could do it yourself… really. The newly-released The Gourmet Butcher… from Farm to Table DVD set walks you through the process of butchering that side of beef, hog carcass, or lamb carcass into portions ready for cooking.

Want to be a DIY Carnivore?

Butcher Cole Ward (aka The Gourmet Butcher) has been doing this for over four decades, and takes a viewer through the process of cutting bulk-size portions of meat into meal-size portions. I readily admit I knew nothing about cutting up carcasses, so it was fascinating to watch him turn a hind quarter of beef, for instance, into flank steaks, roasts, and other steak cuts. It became very clear that you’d want to be very committed to the idea of butchering — it requires time and relatively specialized equipment — but if that’s the case, you could definitely do it.

There’s no doubt that you’d want to have your DVD player in front of you as you did this, and be ready to pause and back up… perhaps the only complaint I had about the lessons was the lack of additional graphics that might help a novice butcher visualize what s/he is doing. But in going through the process, Ward patiently points out tips and tricks, and describes what to look for vividly. Take a look at this preview of his work with a beef hindquarter.

While the butchering lessons certainly take up the majority of the two DVDs, Ward does literally take you to the table with your freshly-cut meat: there are a number of recipes provided for each butchering section. The Pig in a Flanket looks positively decadent… but it, like other recipes, involves fairly minimal preparation and cooking for a meal that will impress your dinner guests.

Of course, one thing you may learn from these lessons is that you’re willing to spend the extra money to take that carcass or portion to the butcher shop… but, if you’re a meat-eater, these lessons are great companions to other lessons and stories out there about the sources of your food. I don’t know that I’ll be cutting up any carcasses soon… but it was really interesting to see how it’s done.

Interested? Enter our drawing for a free copy of The Gourmet Butcher

That’s right… we’ve got a copy of this video series to give away… and it’s easy to enter:

  1. Head over to our community site.
  2. Leave a quick tip, question, or other piece of content about about buying, preparing or cooking local meats… anything works (including tips and questions about wild game and fish you catch).
  3. Make sure to tag your content with gourmetbutcher (after posting, you’ll find the place to tag your item on the lower right-hand side of the page) And while you’re there, subscribe to the community’s Twitter feed to keep up with user contributions: @susblogreviews

We’ll draw from all contributions made by midnight on Tuesday, March 1st (a week away). Once I get in touch with the winner, I’ll update this post…

Know of other good teaching resources for handling and processing fresh local meats? Let us know about them…

Trying to get your little ones started off eating right? Check out our selection of organic baby food from brands like Happy Bellies, Earth’s Best, and PediaSmart.

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