Friday, April 8, 2011

Meet The Butcher's Friday Feast!

Tia Harrison
Co-founder of The Butcher’s Guild
Executive Chef at Sociale
Owner of Avedano’s Holly Park Market
San Francisco, CA

What does being the founder The Butcher's Guild mean to you?

Co-Founding The Butcher's Guild has been an amazingly inspirational experience. The Guild was created to do what guilds do. To create a support system for meat professionals, to preserve the craft of butchery and to adhere to a moral code. To create rewards and recognition for our heritage, integrity and community is where I want to spend my energy and passion. I often think about the fact that most of the people who are butchering right now are doing it because they want to give their customers tastier, more nourishing meat. They want to use their hands to create something really special and support a farmer that is doing it right. These things deserve consumer support and I feel we need to help create that. The Guild's purpose is natural and genuine and reveals itself to me through every conversation, experience and friend I make in the industry.

How long have you been a butcher and where did you get your start? Have you been working with "sustainable" meats the whole time and if not, what precipitated your shift in practices?

I am Executive Chef and co-owner of Sociale Restaurant, and co-owner of Avedano's, a neighborhood butcher shop. I started butchering when we opened Avedano's. I spent six months freezing in a walk-in cooler "working" it out. I had no idea what I was in for, but I had years of working with the end result in my restaurant. All I had to do is figure out how to put it back together in my mind, then break it down and make it look better, right? Not quite. I am really lucky, I have had many great teachers. I have massive respect for butchers and cutters and I will always remain on the path of continuing to educate myself.

When I started cooking fifteen years ago, consumers were not asking questions about where their food came from. My shift to working with more "sustainable" meats came about as a natural result of constantly working to hone in on the best, most delicious products available and tell my customers where they came from.

What do you think about the current media hype and attention on butchery, butchers and meat in general?

I think consumers want to be able to make choices and have sufficient information to do so. The many years prior, void of this knowledge, just didn't feel right. Now discerning consumers are asking better questions. As butchers, we play a big role in getting this information to our customers. We are in the position to create consumer trust through honest labeling and product education. We can help our customers try new cuts of meat or preparations. I think it's huge and deserves attention.

What do you believe is the role butchers in the movement for a sustainable food system and what do you see as the biggest impediment to a truly sustainable meat industry?

I believe one of the most important roles of being a butcher now is consumer education. I think it is paramount to the success of professionals who source and break animals from small, local farms. We are dealing with an industry of unforgiving margins and short shelf life. We really need to focus on the details, crunch the numbers to ensure that we are profitable and use all of the animal. Consumers need to understand why it costs more to shop with a local butcher than at a chain supermarket. And more importantly, why it matters.

Your absolute favorite cut and preparation method/recipe:

It depends on the meal. I really can't say that I love flap meat or skirt steak better than, say, pork shoulder because that would make me a liar. I will say I love to quick grill and braise though- either cook it fast and rare, or slow and soft. Sounds like me: no middle ground.

Thanks tons, Tia! I’ve actually got a nice pork shoulder recipe for today’s Friday Feast!

Just as Tia said, pork shoulder is all about “slow and soft”. This melt in your mouth braised shoulder will make great pulled pork if you let it go long enough, if you’d prefer a sliceable roast, simply pull the shoulder out when it reaches an internal temp of 160 degrees F and allow to rest before cutting to keep in all those luscious juices! I've tried it with all types of whiskey and this floral/herbal rub is always a hit!

Woodland Herb Pork Shoulder

5-6 lbs bone-in pork shoulder
1 tsp. chopped pine needles, from the green tips of new growth.
1 tbs. lavender
1 tbs. juniper berries
1/2 tsp ground star anise
1 tbs fresh sage
1/3 c. maple syrup
1 tbs. kosher salt
white pepper

whiskey-maple glaze for basting-
1/3 c. maple syrup
2 tbs. whiskey
pinch lavender
pinch pepper

May be marinated up to 3 days, the longer the better. Place shoulder in large bowl or on large baking sheet. Pour maple syrup over entire shoulder, making sure to get in all crevices. In a small bowl, mix kosher salt and all other ingredients, rub on shoulder in same manner as maple syrup. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12-36 hours.

Remove from fridge and allow to return to near room temp while oven heats to 350 degrees. Once shoulder has lost its chill, heat a large preferably cast-iron skillet. If you do not have a pan that can go from stove to oven, you'll need both a skillet and roasting pan.

Heat the skillet on medium-high and when hot, place shoulder in pan fat side down and sear to a dark caramel. Sear on both sides then place shoulder fat side up. Baste with small amount of glaze. Move skillet from the stove to the oven, or move to roasting pan and then oven if necessary. Roast to an internal temp of 160 degrees F, about 2.5 hours. If you would like more of a pulled pork consistency, roast to 190-200 degrees F. During last hour of roasting, baste shoulder in glaze every 10-15 minutes. Baste with remainder of glaze immediately upon removing from oven. Let rest 10 minutes before carving. Serve with veggie sides and a starch, or make a nice herbaceous twist on a pulled pork sammy by whipping up a tangy mustard-vinegar sauce and slapping all this goodness on a fresh roll with slaw.


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