Chef Barbara Michelson holds a Grande Diplome from the Paris Cordon Bleu. After a 30-year career in food, from executive dining room chef on Wall Street to market grower in the fields of Long Island, she now makes her home at Nubanusit Neighborhood & Farm (see below) in Peterborough, NH, where she is involved in all things food and farm. She recently hosted a pork butchering workshop with Cole – and here’s what she had to say about it:
"I don't know how I have worked as a professional chef for three decades without knowing more about meat. Maybe it's because I have always been somewhat put off by it. I was a vegetarian for years before attending cooking school (Paris Cordon Bleu 1976-77) and started to eat everything because that seems to be what the occupation demands.
Being around pristine New Hampshire-raised meat (and particularly raising our own) has changed my view. And in a two day seminar with Cole, I learned more about the subject than I have through years of slogging through retail cuts provided by meat purveyors.
Cole reverently led us through the butchering of two large pigs we raised on organic grain and garden scraps and finished with all the dropped apples we could beg, borrow or.....
Now instead of cooking by rote, I'll always know that the parts closest to the head and hoof worked the hardest and need slow cooking to break down tougher fibers, that any one cut can be a number of other things just as easily, and that while the names are different and while some parts on a pig or lamb may be too small to have the same functionality as they would on a steer, they are all really the same.
Cole also opened up the world of sausage making for me and other participants by making things look easier than they are, no doubt. I am not sure if I'll be as successful getting seasoned meat into casings, but I'll be perfectly happy to eat my mistakes as patties.
I learned how to make great cracklings, will be taste-testing leaf lard against generic lard, and using my caul fat to wrap pork meatloaf (from pork ground once!) I am also going to be a much sterner critic of what I see in a meat case.
I look forward to many more great learning experiences with Cole, especially as I develop better skills of my own.
Meanwhile, heartfelt thanks.
***Nubanusit Neighborhood & Farm is a planned community for twenty-nine families built on four acres of a 114 acre parcel of land that includes woods, river frontage, and a Community Supported Agricultural (CSA) organic farm.