Yesterday I met with my friends Olga, from Mango & Tomato, and Sylvie, from Thrifty DC Cook, to participate in the first Foggy Bottom Whole Foods butchering demo. Sylvie from Thrifty DC Cook had come up with the idea, suggested it to Kim from Whole Foods at a DC Food Bloggers Happy Hour, and Whole Foods made it happen. I like that Whole Foods stores are active in their local communities. Their staff is always well-informed and very friendly.
I can’t say enough great things about the Whole Foods stores in the DC area. I do a lot of recipe testing and I get most of the ingredients from there. When I was involved in Charcutepalooza last year, the Upper Georgetown store meat department team was incredibly gracious and helpful in sourcing the oddest things that I needed to complete challenges.
Kim (from the WFFB Marketing Department) greeted us and gave us chef jackets to wear, then took us into the walk in freezer section of the store, where the butchering is done. The work space is incredibly clean and extremely well-organized; you would expect nothing else from this type of operation.
Doug headed the demo. He has 12 years of experience in butchering. He was ready for us with gorgeous product from Niman Ranch to do the demo with.
Niman Ranch has strict animal raising practices. They raise a cross of Berkshires, Duroc, and Chester White breeds. Livestock farms select particular breeds for their best qualities: ability to withstand the elements, temperament, color, overall quality, and taste. Here are some characteristics from each of these breed:
• Berkshire: They are very popular in Japan, known as Kurobuta. Their meat is firm, the meat is deep red in color (hence they started coining the phrase “the other red meat”), they have a good amount of fat which translates into tender juicy meat.
• Durocs: they make good outdoor pigs. In the winter, their coat grows thick and in the summer they molt their coats to be able to withstand the heat.
• Chester whites: produce large litters, good mothering, fast weight gain. The more commercial breed type of the three.
Dough showed us how to get cuts from the mid-section: the loin and upper rib area. We learned how to get several different cuts from the upper mid-section:
· chops for stuffing
· quick fry chops
· butterflied boneless pork chops
· boneless chops for stuffing
· the cradle roast (the rib eye section on top of the ribs, tied together)
· the equivalent of the t-bone in pork
· how to prepare a tenderloin for stuffing, and making medallions
· country-style chops
· boneless country-style chops
· rib eye
· crown roast
Even if you are not interested in butchering your own piece of meat and breaking it down into smaller sections, this is still an excellent class to learn about different cuts and how to cook them. After taking this class, you will be able walk up to your butcher and request a particular cut of pork without the slightest hesitation and know the best cooking method for that particular cut. We also learned that you can request certain cuts that may not be available in their display cases (such a large piece of pork belly for making bacon).
Whole Foods uses and displays the 5 Step Animal Welfare Rating, you can learn more about it here.
The cost for classes varies, this one in particular was $10, and then you got a $10 gift card for participating. Check out their other classes here.
Thanks to Whole Foods Foggy Bottom, Kim, and Doug for a wonderful class!
You can watch a video of this class here!