Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Other White Meat

"You know all those assholes that don't get out of the way when you're trying to get on the subway? And all those crowds on the street? And the fucking UPS guy? Every last one of them used to cure meat. It's just how it used to be done."

Or something like that. Tom Mylan is a genius, a history buff, and a goddamned good butcher. By day, the carving artist is behind the scenes at Marlow & Sons, Diner, and Bonita. In the evening, he's a moonlighting educator at The Brooklyn Kitchen, where you can witness the miracle of turning a whole hog (actually a side) into chops, belly, jowls, loin, and yet even more cuts that I am unfortunately ignorant about.

The whole process takes a little under two hours, beginning with an espresso, and finishing with sauteed pork kidney. Along the way, you learn about each cut of meat, the best way to cook it, and trade secrets that you may or may not have read in The Omnivore's Dilemma (I'm certain that all 10 of us in attendance gave it a recent read). For instance, I learned that there's only two hanger steaks to a cow, meaning that if you and your date both get steak frites at your local bistro, you might as well eat the whole cow. Food for thought indeed. It's not only a lesson in butchery, but also sustainability.

What I love about the grassroots approach of programs like this is that the people running the show love what they do, and want nothing more than to share that joy with the masses. It sounds corny, but it's true. I felt like an amateur throughout the process, but in the end I was given all the tips I needed to make sure that the 8 pounds of pork that I walked away with (triple cut chops, belly, and ribs) were put to good use. Buen Provecho.

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