I cut it up recently but it wasn’t at the local comedy club. I attended a class taught by our local butcher. Vince is the good-ol-boy, salt of the earth, hard working man behind the meat counter at the Glen Ellen Village Market. With twenty five years experience, he takes great pride in the profession, whether it’s a custom cut of ribeye, directions on grilling or sharing his favorite recipe. Talk about knowing where your food comes from, Vince is familiar with the purveyors of his products and he breaks everything down himself – fish, chicken, pork or beef.
My fellow students and I gathered at the Glenelly Inn for hands-on instruction. We started with a salmon. I learned that filets are cut from the fin back and steaks are cut from the fin forward. The closer you get to the tail, the least likely you will find bones. When buying your salmon, Vince advises it’s perfectly okay to ask to smell the fish and/or ask the fishmonger to press down on the flesh to see if it bounces back. When you get it home, always rinse it and don’t store in the butcher wrap. Cover in a wet paper towel, set on a plate and refrigerate.
On to chicken. I was informed that one does not cut a whole chicken, one dismembers a whole chicken. This is definitely a case of it’s easier than it looks and far too technical for this homecooker to describe the process; I attached a tutorial link at the bottom of this post. But I do have a few highlights to share, starting with the breast. That’s right, the breast, as there is only one on every chicken. We split them to get two. My favorite piece of poultry is the thigh and my kids love the drumstick, so I payed close attention when we were taught how to separate the two. Did you know that nature provided connect-the-dots? If you look closely, there is a vein then runs on a diagonal between the thigh and leg. Just cut deeply on that line and tear the joint apart.
Mangling my practice bird made me appreciate the art of butchering and the combination of finesse and brute strength it requires. It’s also kind of macho, like changing your own tire,
but in the future I think I will leave it up to Vince…