If you’ve ever had a charcuterie plate at a Portland restaurant and wondered how it was done, here’s your chance.
Giant’s Belly Farm in Greene and Resilient Roots, with some help from Local Sprouts Cooperative in Portland, are holding a two-day hog butchery and dry curing class Dec. 15 and 16 in the community kitchen at the Public Market House (publicmarkethouse.com), 28 Monument Square, in Portland.
The first day will focus on Italian-style seam butchery. You’ll learn how to break down a pig Old World-style, and how to render lard and make pork stock. You’ll discuss hog diets, meat curing science and other aspects of small-scale livestock raising.
The second day you’ll talk about smoking meats and learn how to dry cure an entire pig and make sausage.
Nate “Iggy” Brimmer and Andrew Lindberg, who makes charcuterie for Nosh Kitchen Bar in Portland, will be the teachers for the $200 weekend workshop, which is limited to 15 people.
Brimmer started raising pigs about three years ago on Giant’s Belly Farm.
“That first year we jumped right into butchering our own pigs right on the farm for our own consumption and sending pigs out to butcher shops for customers,” Brimmer said, “and kind of realized that this is a rare skill that’s intimidating to people, that shouldn’t be. It’s not that big a deal to take an animal and turn it into cuts of meat. The worst thing that happens is you get funny-shaped pork chops.”
Brimmer started out doing more informal three-day workshops on the farm that included lessons in slaughtering, butchering and curing. Last year he held a butchering workshop at Local Sprouts for staff and customers.
Brimmer said he thinks it’s important to “demystify” the process of butchering and curing meats so people can feel comfortable trying it themselves at home. A suburban family might not be likely to bring an entire pig home, but smaller cuts like a ham or the coppa (neck muscle) are entirely doable, Brimmer says.
“I’ve worked in delis, and we sell prosciutto for $20, $25, $30 bucks a pound, and this is something you can literally make in a closet in your house,” he said. “ I know people who just hang it in their kitchen, just over the edge of their counter, hanging from the ceiling. Some of the smaller cuts, depending on the size, a few months later, it’s dried and you’re slicing it off and having a party and inviting friends over for wine and you’re the talk of your social group.”
Lindberg says learning to do-it-yourself is also important when it comes to food security.
“A lot of these cured products are going to last in a closet for a year – shelf-stable food, not being reliant on refrigeration,” Lindberg said. “You can do this yourself. You can do it affordably. You don’t have to rely on these other energy systems to keep your food safe for you. You can provide safe food for yourself at pretty minimal cost.”
Lindberg is one of the founders of Resilient Roots, a new group that is working on opening up a permaculture education center in North Yarmouth. They’ll be homesteading and setting up an urban garden to show people what they can done in small yard spaces.
“One of our goals is to put a commercial kitchen in where we can host workshops like this and process food there,” Lindberg said.
The pasture-raised pigs at Giant’s Belly Farm have been fed certified organic grain sourced from a local, cooperatively-owned feed mill. Their diet is supplemented with farm-raised peas, corn, pumpkins, turnips, radishes and rye. They spend their days rooting, rolling in mud and lying on hay beds.
The pig that will be butchered at the workshop will go back to the farm, but in the form of guanciale, pancetta, lonza, spalla, bacon, prosciutto, Tasso ham, lardo, salt pork and other cured products made by participants in the workshop. You will get a chance to try some of the pork from the farm during lunch, which is included in the cost of the workshop both days.
On the menu will be tempura-fried lung salad, rillettes, ginger-infused pork stew, pasta carbonara, apple sage spleen rolls, broiled BBQ heart, chicharones and other dishes.
To register for the workshop, send a $200 check or money order payable to Giant’s Belly Farm to: Giant’s Belly Farm, 217 South Mountain Road Greene, ME 04236.
Include your full name, phone number and email address. Questions? Contact Brimmer at 415-4458 or email him at email@example.com.
Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at: