By Analiese Paik
On Saturday, September 17, Ryan Fibiger and Paul Nessel of Saugatuck Craft Butchery deftly butchered a half pig in front of a crowd of very curious adults and children as part of the Slice of Saugatuck Festival. This public demonstration underscored their commitment to transparency in every facet of the business, but also provided the community with a rare glimpse into the origins of our food and the anatomy of a pig. Butt, picnic, tenderloin, loin, hocks, ribs, bacon and even skin for chicharrones were sliced (or sawed in one case), by Nessel before being discussed, wrapped, and stored by the duo in the cooler for the raffle.
In a few weeks, the butcher shop will open and Westporters and real food eaters from miles around will have ample opportunity to watch as steer, pigs, lambs, chickens and maybe even a goat or two enter as whole animals and exit as a premium cuts for the dinner table and lesser-known cut you’ll eventually learn to love. These are whole animal butchers after all, so expect the unexpected but also look forward to discovering pantry staples you’ll covet including lard and stock. Fibiger sang the virtues of leaf lard for home-made pie crusts and smoked hocks for soups.
The pig butchered that day was from Joseph Milo Farm in New York, a small family farm that uses sustainable farming practices, raises its livestock on pasture, and never feeds their animals genetically modified feed. After being humanely slaughtered, it was sold whole to the butchers, making it a total of 3 hands that touched the animal before it was raffled off to a few lucky Slice of Saugatuck attendees. Fibiger pointed out that this is the backstory of all the meat and poultry they sell. It’s a simple, old-fashioned one that fell out of favor with the advent of industrial meat production, but is being resurrected thanks to demand by educated and motivated consumers.
Westport, CT 06880