The American diner has become so used to buying their meat in little plastic packages that they’ve forgotten that the meat comes from an animal. Some people are offended when their trout arrives with the head on it, and some people are turned off at the thought of eating chicken off the bone.
I would like to buck that trend. The chef at A16 in the above picture goes so far as to butcher whole lamb in his open kitchen, only inches from the bar seating. That’s pretty cool.
I didn’t kill this deer above but I volunteered to butcher it. I had butchered plenty of whole pigs, lamb, rabbits, and saddles of venison, but never an animal that had simply been field dressed. I drew the attention of some neighbor hunters who were very interested in my butchering techniques. Most hunters tend to just remove the “backstraps,” or loins, from the animal and maybe a couple of rump roasts; the rest of the carcass is taken to processing facility, where just like beef from a feedlot, it’s mixed in with other carcasses, and a couple of days later you return for some packages of jerky and summer sausage.
The amount of meat from a whole carcass is quite substantial.
Talk about a chef’s cornucopia. Just like a summer farmer’s market busting at the seams, a whole animal opens up endless possibilities for dishes. Of course there are the prime cuts, like tender boneless loin, rib chops, and roasts. But there are scrap pieces that can be seasoned and ground for breakfast sausages or crepinettes.
Overall it’s a rewarding experience. I have a much deeper respect for where my food came from and feel like I want to honor it in a way. I hope to be able to utilize this philosophy once again in a professional environment. I believe people will be able to experience such a labor of love.