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Food & Wine magazine

© Nick Fauchald
Butchering at The Brooklyn Kitchen

Fellow food editor Nick Fauchald and I ventured out to Williamsburg last night for The Brooklyn Kitchen’s class on hog butchering, taught by Marlow & Sons' meat master Tom Mylan.

Mylan began the class: “I sliced my arm today with my knife. Perhaps I was slightly hung over.” Yikes. While he said he felt loopier than usual thanks to all his blood loss, his blog confirms he’s always just as irreverent. Here, a few excerpts from our class:

- He broke down a pasture-raised Berkshire pig, which had gorgeous red meat. “Not like that super white meat from those boy-in-the-bubble farm animals,” he said.

- He arranged the kidney and sweetbread together on a tray he referred to as the “offal-a-go-go” pile.

- When breaking down the hog shoulder, he showed us the two popular barbecue cuts, the pork butt (the upper part of the shoulder) and the picnic ham (the lower part). When attached to the leg, the picnic ham looks a bit like the true ham, which is cut from the hind leg. To distinguish the two: “The picnic ham is the one you serve your inlaws," he said. "The real ham is for when the pastor comes to dinner.”

- He explained to us how to make head cheese (and one brave cook with a very large stockpot took it home to try). Mylan added that we could create a similar terrine with the foot. “You know, foot cheese.”

-He reduced a common food lover’s romantic vision of pasture-raising hogs—one of Nick’s post retirement dreams, in fact—to “a Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall fantasy,” named after the wacky luddite British celebrity chef whose spectacular River Cottage Cookbook full of agro porn photography is just hitting shelves in the U.S. this week.

After Mylan finished butchering the hog, the class got the divvy up the meat in a selection process more stressful than the NFL draft. Nick, who got the lucky #1 pick, generously snagged me the tail, which I’m salting now to fry up tomorrow. Perhaps it will be the next duck neck.

P.S. Welcome to the new improved Mouthing Off. Now with pictures. Continue to see more shots of the pig but vegetarians beware.