The Birth Of Bacon

We break down whole animals at Bluescreek, including hogs. I tried to document the process of procuring pork belly for bacon, but I missed a couple of steps. My hands were kind of messy…

split right down the middle

Whole half hog, The belly is to the right of the saw, running almost the entire length of the side.

Not so much here or here...but right in here...

My boss, David, showing me where to break the shoulder from the rest of the side. Beginning at the front of the side, count three ribs in. This positions you behind the foreleg, making a clean separation and producing a “new york shoulder.” This may be further broken into boneless cottage ham (which is smoked), shank, and the ubiquitous boston butt roast (or pork shoulder roast) which is most commonly used for barbecue pork. My right hand is at the front-most part of the belly. The belly essentially starts where my right hand is, and ends where the picture ends, running all along the bottom. From the top come chops (loin and rib).

aka fresh side

The whole pork belly, bones still attached. The bones will become St. Louis ribs or spare ribs. The only diffrence in these two types of ribs is the shape. St. Louis ribs are much more square, as the breast bone is taken off, allowing the bones to be cut straight down. The spare ribs are rounded, as the breast bone is left on, resulting in a slightly more cumbersome rib consumption.



Bones removed. All that remains is to straighten the edges, or “square” the belly. The ribs are, at this point, spare ribs. Note that they are still rounded. The small piece of meat to the right is the skirt, which is used for ground pork.


This is the final product. From here, the meat is cured and smoked for bacon. Or, it can be used as is for fresh side.


And here are a couple of fun shots! Because I can.


A close up of the ribs. You can see the skirt at the top of the photo.


Ribs and bacon. There are napkins in the kitchen.







Tools of the Trade

Tools of the trade

Meat saw, boning knife

A butcher needs very few tools to dispatch, quickly and decisively, his quarry. A six inch boning knife, a saw, a bone scraper, a towel, and a board scraper. These few items are all that is really necessary to perform the duties. Certainly, a mechanized saw is extraordinarily useful, but there is something to be said for making your way through the necessary passages with the use of only your strength. It is a much more arduous task, to be certain; but it is so much more gratifying and fulfilling. When I use the hand held meat saw, I feel a connection to the past, to the history of my profession.

But then, I get tired and go back to the electric saw. Trust me, had my precursors had the ability, they would, too.



So…it’s been a while

I have had quite the tumultuous summer. I apologize for lack of posts. I am back in the game now, and present to you various pictures with captions to ease back into things!!!!! ENJOY!!!



Gorgeous specimen of a thick-cut pork rib chop.

bits and pieces

Lamb, in the beginning stages of processing.
Far left: the torso. From here comes rack of lamb (lollipop chops, rib chops), loin chops (or roast) and breast (boneless or bone-in).
Left foreground: Shoulder. From here come shoulder chops, arm chops, bone-in shoulder or boneless shoulder.
Middle foreground: Shanks
Above the knife: Brisket (yes, lambs have briskets, though we bone them out and turn them into stew)
Right back: Legs. The two flaps at the top are lamb flank. At the bottom are the sirloins. The leg is basically cut down the center vertically, and then in half laterally. The result is leg of lamb (boneless, bone-in or butterflied roasts, or leg steaks) and sirloin (bone-in chops or boneless roasts).


Ashlee, Me, Cheryl, Jamie

Clearly, I am in the center. This was before an evening of festivities called the Apron Gala. It is a silly thing.


prepped for the case

3 pork rib chops, ready for the case. Grilled with black pepper and sage, served with a peach chutney. Gorgeous.


Ready for braising

Three lamb shoulders boned for a local restaurant, Till Dynamic Fare. Once procured from Bluescreek, the chef grinds them and makes delightful burgers with them.


ain't they beauts?

Just a few pork loin chops prepped and ready for the case.



Amazing shell steaks, or bone-in New York Strip. I’ve also heard them called Kansas City Strips. Their name doesn’t matter. They are the larger side of a porterhouse. And these were majestic.


These five boneless rib roasts were bought by a local restaurant to promote local food week. They were outstanding.


My boss, David, butterflying a hog for a restaurant. It was slow roasted and served, along with another hog, to about 200 diners in a roof top Biergarten.


If you like fat, this prime rib is for you!