Nose-to-Tail Butchery: The Return of an (Almost) Lost Art

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Whole animal butchery is making a comeback nationwide and we couldn’t be happier about it. Butchers and chefs in restaurants and grocery stores alike (including yours truly) are bringing in whole pigs, sides of beef, venison, lamb, and more and then putting their prodigious knowledge, skill, and talent to work- with the assistance of some very sharp knives and saws- to separate and parcel out, a.k.a. “fabricate”, the different parts of the animals. It’s a lot of work (okay, that’s something of an understatement: hauling around and deconstructing a whole pig is a task that requires a huge amount of time, muscle, sweat, and patience) but the results are simply amazing.

One of the most wonderful aspects of nose-to-tail butchery is the minimal waste it produces: it is absolutely the most environmentally-friendly way to approach working with meat. After all, there is so much more to a pig (or lamb, etc.) than its muscles and there are so many ways to use all of the muscles, not just the ones deemed “prime”- there are organs and skin and bones and fat, all of which are useful ingredients that don’t need to be thrown away. Through whole-animal butchery, we’re able to make our own chicken and beef stocks, a variety of delicious fresh sausages, pâté, and other charcuterie because we’re following a no-waste model. In doing so, we’re doing our best to respect the animals, our farmers, our community, and our environment.

Another laudable feature of this kind of meat processing is its transparency. Our butchers are able to see as clearly as possible the quality of the meat we’re receiving because it’s still part of the animal’s anatomy when it comes in. Because of this, we’re able to pass on that transparency to you and can tell you all sorts of details about our products that your typical grocery store simply can’t. If knowing as much as possible about your food is important to you, this is the kind of meat you’ll want to purchase. We tour the farms, know the folks raising their animals, and frequent the slaughter houses where we have the chance to meet with USDA inspectors as well.

Here’s one more benefit of whole animal butchery: variety. In conventional grocery stores and restaurants, you can usually only choose from among the most common- and most expensive- cuts (think pork tenderloin, ribeye, etc.) With nose-to-tail processing, you can either stick with these or go home with a lesser-known cut (such as pork shoulder, oxtails, lamb shanks, etc.) and create something delicious for less money. You might need to use slightly different techniques (like braising or marinating) to achieve the flavor and texture you want, but you’ll still end up with something delectable.

If you don’t feel like trying your hand at anticuchos (grilled heart) yet, there’s no need to worry: we still offer traditional cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and more. But if you’re ready to join in the nose-to-tail revival, call us any time to special order whichever part of the animal you desire: our fantastic butchers will have it fabricated, wrapped, and ready to go for your new cooking adventures!

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