Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mangalitsa Mania!!

Hello Everyone,
On Monday Sept. 21st Michael Clampffer from Mosefund Farm brought us a half of a Mangalitsa hog. On Thursday he joined us for a day of fabrication, dinner and finally a demo for the Gourmet Society. The hog was really something! For those of you who don't know this breed it is known as a very rare and high quality lard pig from Hungary/ Austria. (View my previous posting on the breed.) The fat was thick, soft and very white and the meat was a deeper red than most pork. The feed and genetics make this hog a pork lovers dream.
Before our demo we enjoyed a remarkable dinner at St Andrews and Chef Mullooly cooked off the Mangalitsa tenderloin for our table. It was fabulous! Very deep red color and rich. Thanks to Chef and his crew!
We then conducted a tasting for the students at the Danny Kaye Theater which consisted of a slow roasted loin and fresh ham and also some sweet Italian sausages that were about a fifty fifty fat to lean ratio. Very rich all around. You simply can not eat too much of this because it fills you up so much. Michael did a wonderful job explaining the history, genetics, raising techniques, and customers that are now using his Mangalitsa. The word is spreading about this very high quality hog! Michael is offering a class on how to divide a carcass and make some very unique lard products in the early winter. Check out his site.
My teaching assistant, Steven Bookbinder helped with the fabrication and we are currently in the process of making bacon, lardo and rendered fat among other things. We have photos of it and I'll post a follow up soon.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Master Retires

On September 16th 2009 Hans Sebald retired from the Culinary Institute of America. Hans had taught the meat class for over twenty years. Hans, for those who never met him, is an old style butcher originally from Bavaria, Germany. He was a "master" butcher meaning he had been trained as an apprentice and moved his way up in skills, understanding the entire process of butchery, start to finish. I worked with Hans for the past eleven years and when I say he was an old "style" butcher I can also say that Hans was always on the "cutting edge" of the meat industry. He was always learning and reading about our industry and how it intersects with the foodservice world. He was never old fashioned in his thinking and lessons. His students were always presented current knowledge about new style cuts, modern processing methods, foodsafety concerns and new menu ideas. I learned from Hans. His cutting skills were always very smooth and accurate but at the school it isn't simply about cutting but about showing students how to cut, explaining the steps in a way that a person who has never cut meat before can feel comfortable attempting the task. That lesson, the one of patience and clarity, is a lesson that I use every day. Hans was above all a great teacher. He taught literally thousands of students the basics of butchery. His priority was never showmanship, instead a desire to share his skill. As a teacher, he was stern, professional and always fair, but also he had a sense of humor that was never lacking. He often had a quick witted response to situations. We were touring a pork plant in Iowa once while on our summer break. The typical worker attire was big boots and heavy coats. He wore shorts! We asked him why and he simply answered "I'm on vacation".
I'll miss working with him and I can only hope to be as devoted to my students as he was to his. They were all lucky to have such a "master" of education as an instructor!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Paul, Porchetta and more....

The other day we had the honor of working with Chef Paul Canales from Oliveto, Oakland CA. Paul was at the school to work on a harvest dinner and he wanted to serve a Porchetta. Porchetta is typically a pork dish stuffed with fennel, herbs, salt and can vary depending on the chef. It is like a street food sold during festivals or picnics. Here at the school we typically use a small suckling pig and bone the entire thing, leaving the skin intact. The skin becomes a crispy addition to the dish.

For Paul, we got in a number of local market size half hogs that weighed around 100 lbs each. He conducted a great demo for my class in which he described so many ways to prepare pork. We discussed curing and also how pork is fabricated differently in Italy compared to the US style. He decided we would make the Porchetta from the loin and belly section.This meant boning all of the ribs and back bone. It was a great show of butchery craftsmanship and Paul attributed part of what he learned to the CIA's meat class. He pressed my students to absorb as much of the class as possible because the butchery skills it provides gives you so many more options in a restaurant.

Once the bellys and loin were fabbed he seasoned it with salt and an amazing ground red pepper from Scicily and some fennel flowers that he brought from Oakland. Then he rolled the belly into the loin creating a large roast.

After his demo, Chef Sebald's class arrived and I took my class upstairs for lecture. Paul was gracious enough to do the entire demo again which I know Han's class appreciated.

That afternoon my two TA's Steven Bookbinder and Kevin McCann worked on the rest of the hogs and got a chance to really hone some skills. All in all it was a great day for butchery at the CIA.... and we still have all the hams and shoulders to make into other stuff! (Steven has already salted a ham for a dry cure! Chef Elia wants the fennel flowers and shoulders for sausage.)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Half Hog Fabrication

Ok, enough commentary. This is a site that is supposed to be focused on butchery skills so here is a video that a student of mine, Patrick Smith, put together. It is long and unedited but I divided it into three videos. It is actual class footage.