A couple of weeks ago, I got an e-mail asking if I’d like to go to a butchering class. Really? Of course I would! And more importantly, I could pass this off as a Valentine’s Day present for Lon. Lon loves butchery!

It get’s better. Jeffrey’s Meat Market 120 Essex Street, New York, NY 10002 (inside Essex Street Market) holds a class every weekend, rotating through pig, beef, lamb, fowl, and I got to choose.

Jeffrey with butchered pig 2

First Jeffrey Ruhalter ushers the class over to Tra La La Juice Bar 120 Essex Street, New York, NY 10002, insisting we try the muffins (included in the cost of the course). The muffins were as wonderful as he promised, rustic with random large chunks of pear in mine, banana in Lon’s. I would never have thought of not chopping the nuts in the muffin but these whole pieces worked. It tasted natural and fresh. They were still warm from the oven and a steal at $2. Not to be missed.

Tra La La Juice Bar Sign Banana Muffin

With the snow, this was a small class of four: me and Lon, Mike who received this class as a present from his wife, and Andrew who is contemplating a career in butchery. Lucky for us, that meant we would got some hands-on cutting. (Usually it’s just watch-and-learn)

This is a two minute re-cap of a 3+ hours class.
*If you’re squeamish about animal parts, do not watch the video!

The video doesn’t show all of the tastings, so don’t plan on eating lunch after this class.  We tasted from:

  • a huge platter of cold cuts and cheeses;
  • roasted Boston butt with Latin flavoring and crispy skin;
  • roasted neck bone;
  • dry-aged porterhouse steak; and,
  • pork chops in olive oil

meats and cheeses

Following Emeril Lagasse’s lead, sanitation is thrown to the wind, but what Jeffrey lacks in cross contamination prevention, he makes up for in generosity. He is determined to make sure you leave with more than you could have imagined. In fact, looking at the price of $75 per person, and counting the tastings and portions you take home (seems like each person got at least 5 lbs), we figure there is no way Jeffrey can even break even. What is this, a charity?

I wouldn’t be surprised. Jeffrey was giving samples to all that passed, including vagrants, and it started becoming apparent that these stragglers knew him and came to him regularly.

As Jeffrey finished up the class, he decided to do more than just give me some pork, he was going to prepare the rack of pork for us. He took it off the bone, filleted it, and layered it with proscuitto, sweet and hot peppers, and gruyere. He rolled it up and tied it back onto the rack, finishing off with garlic, parmesan, and paprika. Beautiful and we had never seen this before.

proscuitto and hot peppers  3rolled up
tied onto rack

The next day, we covered the bones with some aluminum foil and put the rack on top of some carrots, and roasted it at 300 degrees F for about 60 to 70 minutes, or until it reached 140 degrees F. I let it rest for 1o minutes (as it carries to 145 degrees F) before slicing it. It was perfect with some roasted potatoes.

Jeffrey's Stuffed Pork Rack Jeffrey's Stuffed Pork with potatoes

While the class is fairly disorganized (at various times the four of us weren’t sure what to do or where to go), and Essex Street Market can be a bit of a circus, overall it was a unique experience that we both enjoyed.  So even though we were invited to join this class gratis, it’s an easy decision to gladly pay for the next one. The only hard decisions is lamb or cow?

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