Edible Rhody Spring 2011 : Page 26

The pig is absolutely packed with delicacies, most of which even my mother had no idea about. There’s a new butcher shop in Barrington where the old values, plus a big helping of local sourcing, mean you can buy a pork shoulder or a rib roast and know exactly where it came from. Champe Speidel, chef/owner of Persimmon restaurant in Bristol and a trained butcher as well, opened Persimmon Provisions, along with his wife, Lisa, in late 2010. He’s working with local farmers to make cer-tain that as much of his inventory as possible is raised right here in Rhode Island. Recently I asked Champe if I could sit in while he reduced a 300-pound Berkshire pig to marketable cuts. What I learned is that there is a lot more to pork than tenderloin, and if you talk with the butcher, you can go home with much more than a good dinner. When I arrive, the pig, a 1-year-old gilt (unbred female) is being delivered by Pat McNiff of Pat’s Pastured (who raises pasture-raised pigs, cows, chickens and sheep in Jamestown and South County). The pig ex-tends a good five feet, from one end of Champe’s butcher block in the back of his store to the other. It has been cleaned and all the character-istic black Berkshire hair has been removed but its tail still curls pig-gishly from one end while ears point out at the other. All in all, it’s a lot of potential pork. Pat and Champe both provide the seminar as Champe wields scim-itar and bandsaw to transform the large animal into appetizing cuts of meat. Right away I can tell that the meat of this pig is much darker, redder than supermarket pork, almost beefy-looking. That color translates directly into flavor and succulence. “Not ex-actly ‘the other white meat,’” says Pat with a grin. “That’s a Berkshire. I don’t keep them in pens, they’re out roaming around in the fields and woods and they’re eating pumpkins, apples, acorns and grain.” He adds with a farmer’s pride, “Look at that fat cap.” Along the pig’s back, right under the skin, runs a 1½-to 2-inch-thick band of snowy white fat. “That’s where so much of the flavor comes from,” chimes in Champe. As he works, he cuts away the excess fat. He doesn’t discard it but rather sets it aside. It will be used in sausage or he might use it for lardo, an Italian specialty that's cured with herbs like thyme or rosemary. (Americans aren’t used to serving curls of fat as hors-d’oeuvres but you’ll understand it if you try a dab of lardo on a crisp, little, warm crostino.) Champe continues to illustrate as he cuts: “That will make a ter-rific hanger steak” or “This will make an unbelievable liverwurst” or Above: The whole hog. Below and opposite: Champe Speidel breaking down the Berkshire pig from Pat’s Pastured. Previous page: Pork belly. 26 spring 2011 EDIBLERHODY.COM

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