Culinary Trend Spot: Butchering

Culinary Trend Spot: Butchering

One of the most influential culinary trends is the drive toward sustainability and home farming.

In a quest to understand the true origin of their foods, and to be responsible in their food choices, chefs and consumers alike have been drawn toward sourcing and cultivating local fruits and vegetables. In recent years this focus on local sourcing has expanded to include meat and poultry.

Not only are people more interested in where their meat is coming from or what it ate when it was alive, several chefs and home cooks are actually butchering their own meat and poultry, taking special care that no part of the animal goes to waste. This is commonly called whole animal cooking. Some chefs are even raising their own animals for this purpose.

Butchering has fast transformed from niche interest to mainstream skill. Restaurants have noticed. Butchers (or chefs who are knowledgeable about butchery) are becoming an integral part of high-end restaurants, akin to sommeliers or pastry chefs. And a chef who can butcher is a big asset to restaurants who can purchase whole carcasses from local farmers.

So where can you learn butchering? Butchering skills are taught at culinary arts schools. Popular chefs throughout the country are also putting on classes that teach home chefs the correct meat-cutting techniques, and how to best utilize meat sources with minimal waste.

Does this trend toward natural, sustainable cuisine mean a move toward vegetarianism, or even veganism? Not necessarily, say butchers and chefs. However, an interest in cooking with "responsibly raised" (and slaughtered) products could lead to more careful use of them. Chefs are now more likely to develop creative recipes around the variety of organs and other areas that were thrown out in the past.

If you can get over squeamishness at handling animal flesh, and learn the correct techniques, butchering is a valuable skill for chefs and carnivores.

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