Monday, March 10, 2014
On January 23rd I went to the East End Market, which is part of the Audubon Park Exchange (3201 Corrine Dr. Orlando, FL) to watch chef Tony Adams butcher a hog. Tony is an Award-Winning who founded Big Wheel Provisions and the Big Wheel Food Truck. He offered an in-depth preview of the Big Wheel Whole Hog Dinner that would be served later in the week. In preparation for the dinner, Chef Adams will showed guests how he goes from a whole hog to recipe-ready cut. The live demonstration included the butchering, different preparation techniques, and tastings. Additional hoers d’ oeuvres were be provided, and guests were invited to bring your own beer (BYOB).
Tony noted that this pig didn't have a bullet hole in it's forehead so it was likely electrocuted and then had its throat cut so it would bleed out. As a matter of fact he found some electrocution burns at the pig's neck that further supported that theory. Apparently this is a quick and painless way to die. He stressed his respect for the animal and was grateful that it would offer nourishment. He explained that a good butcher could cut an animal up into its prime cuts within 15 minutes.
The belly, (number 6 on the chart) is where bacon comes from. The loin or New York strip (number 2) is found around the base of the spine just above the hip. Ironically the butt (number 4) isn't from the pigs butt but rather from the strong upper muscles that support the head. The pigs head was the first thing that he cut off with a few precise incissions with his very sharp knife. The folding table used for the demonstration was a bit wobbly, so it wasn't the ideal place to butcher the pig.
Tony is actually quite a good artist, because he drew detailed charts that explained the cuts as he did them. He showed how to remove the ribs from the spine with surgical precision. He said, "This looks like a rack of ribs because it IS a rack of ribs." Hoers d’ oeuvres were prepared in the kitchen by Jes Tantalo using the cuts of meat he had just removed and gusts got to taste the pig even as they watched it butchered. With the sketch done, I stood up and moved in closer with the dozen or so students. I've always wanted to sketch a dissection or autopsy so this was the next best thing.