Pig School at Wyebrook
Friday, March 25, 2016
Having long considered Wyebrook’s meat to be some of the best in the Philadelphia area, not to mention the gorgeous setting of its market and restaurant, I wasn’t sure what more Wyebrook could do to impress me. So, while I attended the pig butchering class on Saturday, March 19th with enthusiasm, I did so only hoping it would make me a (slightly) better cook. Yes, it did that (I think), but I also came away with three more reasons to love Wyebrook.
First, at the outset of the class, owner Dean Carlson explained the farming practices. I was particularly impressed with the pasturing of their pigs and their varied diet. While the animals are fed, they are permitting to roam a great deal of the property and forage for additional food. By the time the pigs are slaughtered, they are more mature and significantly larger than the “industry standard.” These practices account for the outstanding quality of their pork.
Second, head butcher Alexi Alejandro was a gracious teacher. As he systematically butchered a side of pork (literally, one half of a pig), he explained each of the cuts as well as cooking techniques and the various terms. One of the simplest but most helpful things he emphasized was the optimal internal temperature for cooking pork (145 degrees plus resting time). This might actually prevent me from overcooking pork in the future…maybe.
Third, at the conclusion of the class was a dinner featuring the various cuts of pork. Every dish was outstanding - handmade rigatoni with pork ragu, pork pate, sausages, pork belly, and loin. I don’t know if this is a direct consequence of bringing Russet’s chef/owner Andrew Wood onboard as Executive Chef, but I would guess so. The kitchen paid as much attention to our dinner as Alexi paid to us, his students.
Wyebrook offers this and other classes (including one on charcuterie, which I am eager to attend) throughout the year. Look for announcements via their mailing list or on their website.
Posted by Kevin on 03/25 at 06:15 PM