OK, here we go, on to round two of my experience at Newman Farm for their Spring Farm to Fork event. In the last post, we toured their farm and learned a lot about how they do things over in Myrtle. This time, I’ll walk you through our lunch and Michael Hudman’s butchering demonstration, then in part 3, I’ll hit on dinner, what it was and how it was made!
If touring a farm and walking around in the heat makes one tired and hungry, I can only imagine what it is like to actually work on a farm. Either way, I was excited to head back towards the house as the smells from the grill were wafting across the fields. I got together a little plate and sat down with some of my new friends from M-town.
No burger for me at the pig farm, so I obviously went for the bratwurst. It was awesome. Some great slaw, broccoli salad, tomato slices, pickles, and plain Lays made this a classic cookout style lunch. We ate out on the picnic tables and had some good conversation. Lunch was a great break in the action, and after that I wandered around talking people up, finding a little shade, and watching the guys working on dinner. Then I made my way over to Michael Hudman and a half pig that he was cutting up for a butchering demonstration.
Warning – The photos coming up are accurate depictions of someone butchering a pig. Don’t look if that will bother you.
A little back story here. Michael and his partner-in-crime, co-chef Andy Ticer, moved to Italy for a year before they opened their restaurant in Memphis. While there they lived with a family, who would raise and care for a pig that they would eventually end up eating. The family did the butchering themselves and knew how to use every bit of the animal. In a nod to their experience, Andy and Mike get a whole pig every couple of weeks at Andrew Michael and butcher it themselves (each chef gets one half to break down). Their dedication to full use of the animal is one of the reasons that we can get such creative dishes at their place. It is really cool to hear them talk about honoring the life of the animal by using every piece and using it to the best of their abilities.
So, just like they do at Andrew Michael, Mike started out with a half pig and took us through breaking out all the cuts from tenderloin to pork chops to the cheek to the osso bucco. If you’re going to do this, I recommend getting your hands on some sharp knives and a saw.
Here’s the deal. You use the knife to cut through flesh, and you use as few cuts as possible. Then you use the saw when you have to go through bone. The mark of a well cut piece of meat is a smooth cut. You definitely don’t want hacking! Out of those pieces on the table, you’ve got the osso buccos, a pork belly, a series of pork chops from the ribeye to the porterhouse. It was a pretty cool experience to see where all the different cuts come from. Even better that we had a doctor watching the show, who could translate each cut into a description of what it was really for (ie the shoulder muscles).
Here’s a little tip that I picked up from both Mike and Mark Newman, anytime that you can get your meat with the skin on, you should. It creates a barrier during the cooking process that gives a lot of leeway to the cook and preventing overcooking. At Andrew Michael, they separate out the skin to make their own pork rinds and they use most of the extra fat to make lardo. Any meat that isn’t used in normal dishes is made into sausage. Almost total utilization. Just wait for Hog and Hominy to open, and you can test out the pork wings that they discovered while butchering!
Here’s a final shot of the action. Oh yeah, next time you get a chance, pick up some jowl from the Newmans. They don’t call it head-bacon for nothing. It is fattier than bacon, but it cooks up really nice.
Next Up – Cooks in the Kitchen
Next up, I’ll hit on dinner. Don’t miss it.
You want to go to there: