Apprenticing

Mike the Meat Head Chef teaching us how to butcher a pig carcass.

Apprenticing has been a unique process since the beginning of human history yet it is a dying art. From carpentry to sculpture, and in an increasingly fast and technologically savvy world, the old way of doing things is becoming a relic of the past. In large part this is due to the lack of professional ‘masters’. Learning how to butcher has been a casualty of historical processes and concerted efforts that decimated our country’s unions and ended professional guilds. Unions, like all human organizations are not perfect but they did protect jobs, maintained standards, and ensure that the art was begin passed from one generation to the next. Industrializing agricultural processes left us with poor quality meat, ecological degradation, and a world where butchers were replaced with ‘meat cutters’. Don’t think that you can ask for specific cuts of meat from you local supermarket meat department. More often than not they don’t know anything but how to portion out the meat they order.

I have wanted to be a part of the revival of that long lost art and searched for a  teacher to pass on their knowledge of butchering, to improve my culinary skills. Enter Mike Smollon, butcher. Mike is one of those guys that you look at and just smile. He’s warm, kind and just wants to share his knowledge of the craft. I began working in their shop a few months ago but have had to take a break since the birth of my son. I’m eager to get back to learning. Mike and I spoke not long ago and we agreed to join forces. He would teach butchery and I would teach basic charcuterie at his butcher shop in Annapolis – My butcher and more.

Classmate butchering up our first lamb

For those interested in taking some basic classes in butchery Mike is the man. He offers weekly Meat 101 classes that teach the basics of knife sharpening, de-boning chickens – excellent and fast for the grill, and cutting up pig carcasses. You won’t be disappointed as you’ll go home with a bag full of delicious goodies. Once you’ve mastered that you can move on to his butcher seminar which is in the planning stages. There is no other place in the area to get such comprehensive skills at a reasonable price. Check us out when the new butcher seminar and charcuterie classes begin.

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Support from happy testers!

Check out these wonderful tasting-notes from a taste-tester of mine who ordered some curing products for a party she threw for her friends.

I love this picture. Bresaola just as it was intended to be eaten with a beautiful salad of arugula, fresh cherry tomatoes, red onions, and shaved Parmesan.

Last but definitely not least….carbonara the right way. I think American’s have a warped sense of what carbonara actually is. If you go to any typical Olive Garden type restaurant the first thing you will notice about a carbonara dish is that it’s colored white from the cream they put in it….WRONG!! Carbonara is a very simple dish to make that includes egg yolks, cheese, pasta and of course guanciale.