The Proof That Even Slaughterers Can Become Pop Stars Today

By Laura Ewert | WELT Iconist | Berlin | August 2017 | © WorldN24 GmbH. All rights reserved.

The modern butcher blogs and goes on educational journey

At least as beautiful as the meat products from his hands: The blogging butcher Jack Matusek

At least as beautiful as the meat products from his hands: The blogging butcher Jack Matusek

(Translated from Deutsch)

The butcher is often thick in movies, a bit angry. Sometimes bald. Chabrol rather thick-haired. He is wearing a white apron or white rubber boots and has reddened skin. He saws animals apart and leaves them on large hooks through the slaughterhouse. A place for psychotherapists. Battles are not nice.

Jack Matusek is beautiful. He is wearing a cowboy hat, long brown hair, sometimes green cowboy boots, sometimes a jeans shirt. A soft face. There are many photos of him, because he is a blogging butcher, in English, it sounds as nice as it looks: blogging butcher. He has large pieces of meat in his hand, he shows swine-ear terrines, or how to rouse a whole animal. On his "Raw Republic Meats" page, he writes about his travels, where he wants to learn everything about the craft. The 26-year-old is the proof that even slaughterers can become pop stars today - it helps of course if they look like this.

The slaughterer's new star potential is well explained by the rules of modern gourmets, who eat his bread only artisan and carrots grow blue or crooked. For him, food must be fresh, easily prepared with effort, best self-cultivated. And, of course, ethically correct. This is a tedious business, particularly in meat. One that moves the minds tremendously, in the face of animal protection, in which cow eyes look sadly from truck slits. In the case of conscious eaters, it is, therefore, a good idea to try to find out whether you can kill your food yourself (see the book "Eating Animals"), or at least making a few sausages yourself.

This explains why the butcher is so interested.

The humble craft of the butcher is definitely coming - worldwide”, says Jack Matusek, who has found his model in Italy. ”I’ve seen videos of Dario Cecchini cutting meat, while he heard AC / DC .  I was excited. Then I understood that it was more than cutting meat. It was art.

Traveling around the world all over the world

This craftsmanship charmed Matusek. He is a Texan, seventh generation.

If I could wear my hat in the bed, I would do it, he says.

Texas is known for one of the most important economic sectors in the country, the cattle breeding. In 2011 the US produced more than one billion kilos of beef . "I grew up on a ranch. As a child, I enjoyed playing in the kitchen and refined my childish cooking skills, says Matussek. Combining cooking and cattle seemed to me a suitable idea."

At first, he studied history and business administration, where he also developed a business plan for a delicacy butchery. This idea grew more and more in him. "So I canceled the job offers after my graduation and decided to learn everything about the butcher's trade." That was 2015. Since then, he has been on an educational journey with regard to meat.

Jack Matusek first researched, wrote e-mails, and asked at various companies if he could learn from them. He enrolled at the best Fleischer school in the USA, Fleishers Craft Butchery in Brooklyn, New York. Because there was no free place for him, he worked in the next slaughterhouse to learn the basics.

At the same time, he began writing his blog. "I wanted to create a way to teach people about good meat with recipes and video tutorials." That's how you see how he cooks his steak. Directly in the fire. He calls it "Dirty Steak", and the video, in which he explains that you have to leave it four minutes per side in the fire to enjoy it "medium rare" is underlined with action music.

Finally, he moved to Europe. "If you want to learn to surf, go to California, if you want to learn something about sausage, go to France," he had read somewhere. So he sold his car, grabbed his backpack and went to France together with a cowboy hat and a good finish.


Learn from the best butcher

There he worked at the slaughterhouse, on a farm, in a restaurant, ate a lot and learned a lot about French sausages. He spent his 25th birthday at the "Le St. James", a Michelin-starred restaurant in Bordeaux.

Then he went on to Panzano in the Chianti, where he worked with his hero Dario Cecchini, the most famous butcher of Italy. Bill Buford, a New York journalist, was already working as a butcher's assistant. Cecchini sells the self-cut meat in his restaurant "Officina della Bistecca" (Italian for steak workshop). 

Matusek then went to France again. In the Gascogne, he was introduced to the secret of national sausage specialties such as Pâté de Tête. He learned how to make the boneless ham Noix de Jambon from a pig's leg, and that any excess blood can cause the meat to rot during drying.

He also studied in Peru, Argentina, and Mexico. "Each country has its own style, which depends above all on local products. But also the climate and the weather influence the way of preparation and storage." A bit like the wine. The Germans, he says, are very exact at slaughter. They would hardly leave meat on the bone. The French cut rather elegantly.

Jack Matusek: "What did the animal eat, how did it live, how was it slaughtered - all that counts for the taste"

Jack Matusek: "What did the animal eat, how did it live, how was it slaughtered - all that counts for the taste"

Like a cook, a butcher always has his knives, he recommends that of F. Dick. Matusek's favorite sausage specialty is the Italian Coppa of the Schweinenacken. And he loves Hanger steak, the tail of a long bison loin. He likes to work, the boy from the cattle country, but now with pig. "I just know the most about it now." And his favorite vegetable? This is the potato: "So versatile!" The best sausage is made from fresh ingredients, he says. Naturally. He is enthusiastic about Chorizo: "With different types of peppers, smoked, spicy or bittersweet." In addition, only meat from animals, which had grown well. 

What did it eat, how it lived, how it was slaughtered - all that counts ultimately for the taste.

With extreme vegetarians , he had so far no problems. "Vegetarians love the welfare of the animals, just like me. Animals have to live a happy life, and they have a right to pain-free and decent slaughter. "


Battles, Blogging, and Travel

Matusek is currently working in Denmark, where he is working for a few months. At the end of August, he will come to Germany and look at some pig farms and abattoirs. For the future, he has nothing less than to produce the best sausage specialties in the world. For this, he has to found a company in which he can control everything - from the breeding of the animals through their rearing to their slaughter. "I hope I will return to my ranch in Texas and build an ethically correct slaughter house, with pig farming. And a school for the butchers."

In the meantime, he wants to travel further, to continue writing, to continue learning, to continue, as in Copenhagen at the annual "Butcher's Manifesto Summit". There meet Fleischer from all over the world, to formulate goals for the craft and to exchange ideas about what the world's foodie now calls charcuterie : Superstar meat products.

Where to Find Pig Ear Terrines, Spicy Nduja and Other Adventurous Charcuterie in Dallas

from Dallas Morning News / June 6, 2017 / Coryanne Ettiene, Special Contributor

If you haven't already, it's time to get on board the charcuterie craze sweeping Dallas. Not too long ago you needed a vacation to Europe or some hidden neighborhood in New York City to find mouth-watering charcuterie. But now, thanks to a growing number of butchers and chefs with a culinary curiosity for this time-honored technique, it is not hard to find a shop or restaurant featuring charcuterie with enthusiasm.

Jack Matusek, 25, of Raw Republic Meats is a native Texan from Yoakum who spent the last year studying the art of butchery and charcuterie from some of the biggest names in the industry. He is now completing his butcher training in Europe with the aim of returning to Texas to open his own shop in Fort Worth and a wholesale charcuterie program on his family farm in Yoakum.

Butcher Jack Matusek of Raw Republic Meats (Raw Republic Meats)

Butcher Jack Matusek of Raw Republic Meats (Raw Republic Meats)

"A big difference between Europe and the United States when you start talking charcuterie is prevalence," Matusek says. "Europeans initially preserved their meat using these methods before the invention of refrigeration. You can find some form of charcuterie or cured meat on just about every lunch table in France or Italy. Charcuterie is a staple in the European diet while it is emerging as a specialty item here in the states."

For him, charcuterie is "just like wine, certain tastes or hints in charcuterie develop because of the weather, protein source, or storage and curing conditions."

From spicy, tangy salamis to full-bodied, nutty pates, charcuterie embodies a wide-reaching plethora of incredible flavors and textures that whisper tasting notes specific to the terrain and environment it is produced in.

Speck Alto Adige dry-cured smoked prosciutto from Jimmy's Food Store in Dallas.  (Ben Torres/Special Contributor)

Speck Alto Adige dry-cured smoked prosciutto from Jimmy's Food Store in Dallas. 

(Ben Torres/Special Contributor)


Branching out

With so many old-world favorites and emerging flavors to choose from, Matusek says you can't go wrong with a quality prosciutto or culatello, both products from the ham that get aged for two or more years. 

"With a curing cycle that long, some incredible flavors develop that aren't found in other types of short-term cured meats," he says.

If you are looking for something that will add a kick to your board, Matusek is in love with nduja, a spicy, spreadable salami. He recently dined at Knife Dallas and highly recommends their nduja and other charcuterie.

And for the adventurous eater, Matusek suggests lardo, a cured and seasoned back fat sliced paper thin.

"It's a delicious addition to a charcuterie board made from a part of the pig that usually gets overlooked," he says.

Experimental Chefs

The rising popularity of charcuterie in Dallas is due in great part to an emerging number of local chefs who are experimenting with curing meats. Start at Lucia in the Bishop Arts District and order their salumi misti — a tasting of house-made cured meats such as lardo, nduja and rabbit terrine. 

Pig ear terrine is cut at Blind Butcher by chef Oliver Sitrin. (Tom Fox/Staff Photographer)

Pig ear terrine is cut at Blind Butcher by chef Oliver Sitrin. (Tom Fox/Staff Photographer)

Pop over to The Blind Butcher in Lower Greenville for another take on in-house cured meats. Chef Oliver Sitrin's menu is what he calls "worldly local," adapting with the seasons and sourcing local to match his global palate. 

For Sitrin, the charcuterie trend appeals to the artisan, small-batch consumer that is gaining momentum. It's thanks to the "animal movement that is helping people become aware of waste, but also moving them to try different parts of the animal they may not have been willing to try before," he says.

Blind Butcher chef Oliver Sitrin prepared a charcuterie board full of (clockwise from lower left) pork rillette, pork rinds, carrot chutney, head cheese, lost ruby ranch (fresh goat cheeses), pig ear terrine, duck-chicken-duck pate, pickled green beans, lardo, candied pecans, beef-pork-duck pate, pacha, and bacon bratwurst and mustard. (Tom Fox/Staff Photographer)

Blind Butcher chef Oliver Sitrin prepared a charcuterie board full of (clockwise from lower left) pork rillette, pork rinds, carrot chutney, head cheese, lost ruby ranch (fresh goat cheeses), pig ear terrine, duck-chicken-duck pate, pickled green beans, lardo, candied pecans, beef-pork-duck pate, pacha, and bacon bratwurst and mustard. (Tom Fox/Staff Photographer)

"Recently we have had more people asking for fun things like head cheese, rillettes and anything pastrami," he adds. "We do a few different types of bacon, and people seem to really enjoy anything you can turn into bacon these days." 

His menu reads like a love letter to cured meats. It's reminiscent of old world flavors but with a contemporary flair that draws you in and sparks a hungry meat-eater to try everything.

The charcuterie case at Jimmy's Food Store in Dallas. (Ben Torres/Special Contributor)

The charcuterie case at Jimmy's Food Store in Dallas. (Ben Torres/Special Contributor)


Try it at home

For those looking to embrace charcuterie at home, Jimmy's Fine Food Store in East Dallas has been dishing up charcuterie long before it was a buzzword on the tip of every foodie's tongue. 

Visit on a Saturday afternoon and you will find yourself sharing a line with locals hungry for smoked prosciutto or Beretta spicy salami. Their old-fashioned deli counter packed with a huge selection of charcuterie, cheese and Italian delicacies is a must for those looking to create the perfect board.

Local butchers such as Deep Cuts in North Dallas and others also carry a wide range of dried and cured meats, as do cheese shops such as Scardello.

Beretta spicy sausage from Jimmy's Food Store. (Ben Torres/Special Contributor)

Beretta spicy sausage from Jimmy's Food Store. (Ben Torres/Special Contributor)


A learning environment

You can always try your hand at curing your own meats. There is an emerging number of home cooks and hobby butchers that are learning the art of charcuterie with the hope of crafting their own spin on traditional cured meats inspired by restaurant boards and deli counter finds. 

Matusek isn't the only chef passionate about educating consumers and chefs on the art of charcuterie. A variety of workshops by trained chefs and butchers are appearing across the country. You don't have to attend full-blown culinary school to get a taste of the cure.

Cuisine University held a charcuterie and salumi workshop in Dallas in April taught by chef Brian Polcyn, author of  Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing.

"The recent popularity for charcuterie has been going on for about seven years, maybe a little longer," says Vic Rose of Cuisine University. "Chef Polcyn's book was the one book that really got many of the young chefs interested in charcuterie." 

You could also head to Austin and visit Salt & Time, a butcher shop and restaurant, for classes on meat curing basics and sausage-making. 

Coryanne Ettiene is a McKinney freelance writer. / Dallas Morning News / June 6, 2017

 

 

Cochon555 Houston

We carried the full Swabian Hall on our shoulders into Hughes Manor where the pop-up butcher shop would take place.  The Houston Cochon555 crowd had just finished the chefs' competition where Manabu Horiuchi from Kata Robata took home the "W" for his six-course presentation highlighting Chubby Dog Farm's Mangalista Red Wattle Cross.

For those of you not familiar with Cochon555, this is a movement to preserve and promote heritage breeds of pork and family farming by hosting culinary events and chef competitions in the major cities across the US.

Preparing for the demo - all knives got a new edge and the cleaver made an appearance.

Preparing for the demo - all knives got a new edge and the cleaver made an appearance.

Time to cut!

Time to cut!

The pig was gently set down on the two joined Boos cutting tables which gave way to an eruption of iPhone cameras flashing and clicking - I’m sure not many of the onlookers had ever seen a full pig carcass before. To be honest, I’d never seen a pig carcass like this either so the first few cuts were a bit foreign to me. Most of the time, carcasses are split symmetrically down the backbone – making transport, storage, and butchery easier. To truly show the crowd of food enthusiasts what butchery is all about, I started with a complete eviscerated (minus the insides) pig carcass. I would also be without the use of a band saw – an extraordinarily precise tool when cutting through bones. In its place, a 27-inch bone saw would have to work through the bones manually. As a backup, I brought my vintage cleaver as well.

Brady Lowe, the founder of Cochon555,  started the demo by telling a bit about the Piggy Bank, the focal point of all the fundraising that weekend. Piggy Bank has one simple goal in mind - helping family farmers. The organization is a dedicated to current or prospective farmers to help them get a kickstart: breeding stock, business plans, and other valuable business information  - anything a pig farmer needs to get going.  

After a quick summary of my travels, I handed the mic back over to Brady and started cutting.

After a quick summary of my travels, I handed the mic back over to Brady and started cutting.

Brady offered me the mic, I gave my short elevator pitch, and then dove in. Splitting a whole carcass manually wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be – I took off the hind legs first, split them, then did the same with the shoulders. The loin gave me a bit of trouble – it was long, and my saw blade only gave me about three to four inches to move. 

Let me stop here to tell you about Houston's climate. If you haven't been there in the summertime, believe me when I say the heat and humidity are unbearable. Just before I took the stage, Houston received a summer shower followed by intense sunshine. The humidity ramped up and was so thick; I could have cut it with my cleaver. I was soaked in sweat. My shirt was sticking to my body, and little sweat beads covered my face. I had to step away several times to wipe my brow and get a swig of water.

But, back to my story... I was relieved the carcass breakdown was behind me, but quickly realized I would need a lot more help to break the primals down into shop cuts in the allotted time.  Luckily, good friends, Catherine and Tito Manterola were waiting and jumped right in to help.  Over the next hour, we cut, wrapped, and tagged the entire Swabian Hall for retail sale. Everything was on display: bones for stock, ears for dog treats, skin for soups - even the brains were snapped up for a saute. 

A big thanks to Catherine and Tito Manterola for setting up to the butcher's block and getting dirty with me. I couldn't have done it without y'all!

A big thanks to Catherine and Tito Manterola for setting up to the butcher's block and getting dirty with me. I couldn't have done it without y'all!

A bottom round roast just before being wrapped up and taken home.

A bottom round roast just before being wrapped up and taken home.


A sold pork coppa.

A sold pork coppa.

I’m honored to have been apart of this year’s Cochon555 Houston. Brady and his amazing staff created an enjoyable gastronomic gathering. A special shoutout to:

Allegra - who personally helped coordinate the pop-up butcher shop. She was on her A game, and everything ran flawlessly. 

Calvin and Karyn Medders - owners of Chubby Dog Farm, a Mangalista-heritage cross pork farm in Grapeland, Texas. I always enjoy the opportunity to talk to producers and learn so much from their stories and their passion for providing excellent quality food. 

Jeff Weinstock - owner of Cake & Bacon, a small wholesale bakehouse and butchery commissary that delivers no-less-than-perfect breads, pastries, pies, charcuterie, sausage, pasture-raised products to restaurants and retailers throughout Houston. His display was covered in a wide variety of cured meats - the spiced coppa being my favorite. 

Geoffrey and Renee Barry -  of The Barry Farm in Needville, Texas who raise heritage Red Wattle. It was my pleasure to have met another passionate farmer here in South Texas.   

Catherine -  my publicist, my partner in crime for any culinary adventure, and the ultimate networker.  She knows everybody and if she doesn't she will before the day is done!

Morgan Weber - A BIG shout out to Morgan Webber of Agricole Hospitality who got me hooked up with this sweet gig. I also had the chance to check out one of his Houston establishments, Coltivare, and it was an absolute blast. If you live in Houston and haven't eaten here, you need to rethink your life.