By Virginia Monaco, ICE Department of Student Affairs
ICE students were recently treated to a rare demonstration of "whole hog" butchery, as Master Butcher Rudi Weid broke down an entire 150-pound pig into primal and individual cuts in real time. Today, most animals are processed with industrial band saws at meat packing plants, but Rudi only used very sharp knives, a hand saw and a lot of elbow grease to expertly strip away skin and bones to leave neat piles of roasts, chops and ribs ready for cooking.
While interest in nose-to-tail cooking and whole animal butchery has exploded in the last decade, there are many factors for a chef to consider when using whole animals. For pork, typically only the tenderloin cuts (which can be cooked to order) are featured on menus. The other 90% of the animal results in harder-to-sell tough cuts and “unusable” waste. For example, cuts from the shoulder and leg are delicious, but require long, slow cooking methods or time-consuming transformations into terrines and charcuterie. To further educate students about the technical and flavor differences between tender and tough cuts, Rudi served grilled loin and rib chops alongside slow-braised pork belly.