Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pork Cuts

These are the front legs of the hog. So what can you make from the front legs? First I carefully removed the meat from each leg. This process is referred to as "boning out" the meat. I learned how to do this from the first butcher we hired at the slaughterhouse, Rick. Rick was fondly known as "Convict Rick" -- heart of gold, but terrible propensity to spend overnights on the county's expense. Baby Mama drama, child support in arrears, an enjoyment of libations, and a tendency to get into fights . . . not a good combination! Rick, however, was a wonderfully skilled butcher and very patient as he trained me on skills that he had mastered long ago.

Most of our Ethiopian customers at the slaughterhouse chose to purchase adult sheep. To we Americans, these were "cull ewes": the older females that were being removed from herds for some reason. Maybe they were bad mothers, perhaps they had bad attitudes, but they were no longer desirable to the shepherd. To the Ethiopian comunity, these were highly desirable sources of meat! Although the age of the animal meant it had a stronger taste and was not as tender, the Ethiopian style of cooking corrected these impediments to enjoyment. The meat would be removed from the bones, so that the customer ended up with a bag of just meat and a bag of soup bones. The meat was then traditionally slow roasted for a long time with peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic -- whatever flavors were desired. This cooking process served to tenderize the meat and the wonderful spices enriched the flavor of the mutton.

I am incredibly fond of Ethiopian food, and wholeheartedly suggest the Blue Nile Restaurant on High Street in Columbus. It is owned by a lovely family and the food is outstanding! I am blessed that my years at the slaughterhouse brought me new skills, new friends, and new experiences!

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