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

 

 

Creating the Manifesto

This is the last of a 3-part series.  You can catch up by reading Road Trippin' Across Europe (Prolog), Origins - part 1, and Meating Fellow Revolutionaries, part 2. 

We were up early the next morning and ready to begin the formulation of the Manifesto. Michael had outlined five key points he wanted to touch on in our mission statement:

  • Tradition
  • Quality
  • Education
  • Craft
  • People

For each of these subjects, Michael had assigned a speaker who would lead the discussion for 15-20 minutes after which we would begin a group discussion. All the speakers were experts in their respected fields.

TRADITIONS:

The “traditions” segment was lead Henning Wiesinger, owner of Steensgaard Farms, a Danish nose-to-tail farm, slaughter facility, and butcher shop.

They do it all under one roof, from “seed to sausage”.

He discussed how the connection between the farmer and butcher has become lost, but fortunately, Steensgaard has been instrumental in preserving this traditional method of butchery.  The unique aspect of Steensgaard is their method and ideology of harvesting. Their animals aren't transported to a distant slaughterhouse - they are harvested right on the farm using a state of the art harvest facility.  It is the farmers who know the animals and lead them to the slaughterhouse where they go in a special enclosure until they are slaughtered. This ensures the lowest possible stress levels to the animals. Once slaughtered, the carcasses are immediately hung up and broken down while still warm, ensuring a quality product.  It also provides close cooperation between the farmer and butcher by creating opportunities for them to work together on meat quality and product development.

After Henning finished, we came together as a whole and tried to outline a statement on traditions.

We honor the valuable traditions of butchery.

It might seem very simple, but you have no idea how much discussion and thought went into that sentence.

QUALITY:

Adam Danforth, a James Beard award-winning author and butcher from Oregon then spoke on the topic of quality. Adam is an advocate for consuming older animals – these animals have more time to develop complex flavor in their meat. He also emphasizes flavor over texture, while the rest of the world buys the exact opposite. This discussion then led into another concerning the long-term sustainability of meat. The earth cannot support 7 billion people who eat meat every day. Adam's solution: eat less, but better meat.

Again, we converged for group discussion. The main point in this session was ensuring that superior quality was maintained through the whole process, from seed to sausage.

We insist on transparent and honest meat.

 EDUCATION:

Michael lacked a speaker for his point on education. Moved by my non-traditional path to butchery, he asked me if I would be willing to speak on the subject the night before.

Me?

I was the youngest butcher there and had little experience compared to the old guys who were born with blood stained knives in their hands.

But I wasn’t going to turn an opportunity like this down.

After a quick lunch break consisting of some incredible beef cheek tacos, it was my turn.

I’ve done a lot of public speaking in my life. I even spent a lot of time acting as a kid and I’ve got two state titles to prove it. But, this was different. This was my career.

I’m not going to lie, I was nervous.

After a quick prayer, I took my place at the head of the room and began to tell my story: The revelation in my Entrepreneurship class at TCU, the slaughterhouse down in South Texas, selling my car to pay for a three-month apprenticeship at Fleishers in NYC, as well as my time in France and Italy.

The discussion that followed centered around setting up a cost-free international apprenticeship program among the butchers involved in the manifesto, with me as the example and guinea pig.

We promote the exchange of knowledge and expertise.

CRAFT:

Dominique Chapolard and Kate Hill handled “Craft.” While Kate talked about the Chapolard system and butchery in France, Dominique went to work on a half carcass, demonstrating his skills. Many butchers hadn’t seen a carcass broken-down with this method before.

We represent a craft that is the joyful expression of tradition and innovation.

PEOPLE:

Olga Graf and Akina Kai, two design thinkers from Berlin, were charged with helping these butchers think “outside the box.” They led a discussion revolving around the interactions between butchers and consumers.

We lead the conversation about responsible consumption of meat.

After Kate and Adam had tweaked the wording a bit, the Manifesto was ready to sign.

One by one, we were called to sign the document. A roar of applause filled the hall as Michael, the last to sign, finished his signature.

This was the first step in the organized meat revolution. As a craft, we have grown tired of the unethical practices and inferior products from large industrial meat companies. We have set in place guidelines by which we can organize behind.

Yes, it probably didn’t seem like much to you as a reader; however there was a lot of thought and conversation behind those five lines.

I’m sure they will be modified and changed at the next summit, but until then, it’s a start.

After a long day of discussion, carts of beer were rolled in. Everyone started breaking out his or her products for sampling.

Meating Fellow Revolutionaries

This is the second of a three-part series… Catch up by reading Road Trippin’ Across Europe  and Manifesto Origins.

In the beginning, I was just an extra – tagging along with Kate and Dominique.

Man, I was damn lucky. What ended up happening in Copenhagen in the confines of Folkets Madhus on that late August weekend changed not only my life, but potentially butchers across the world.

FullSizeRender
FullSizeRender

We journeyed into the industrial side of Copenhagen on Thursday afternoon. The streets were lined with soccer fields, communal gardens, and countless bicyclists. Nestled between a couple of old warehouses laid our destination: Folkets Madhus.

There we were met with open arms – Michael Museth introduced us to his team and gave us a quick tour around his impressive facility. Folkets Madhus is comprised of:

  • a large commercial kitchen,
  • a dining hall for catering events,
  • a sausage preparation room,
  • an incredible teaching kitchen,
  • and office space available for rent to similar businesses.

Did I mention the Cold War-era bomb shelter out back? Or the organic garden on top of the bomb shelter?

 

The Cold War era bomb shelter behind Folkets Madhus.

The Cold War era bomb shelter behind Folkets Madhus.

That night, we had a traditional Danish meal of stegt flæsk med persillesovs  and got acquainted with Hendrik and the Viking contingent of the Butchers' Manifesto.  In case you are wondering what stegt flæsk med persillesovs is, it is fried slices of pork belly with a parsley sauce.

The next day, butchers slowly trickled through the front door. They came from various points in Europe and North America: butchers from Oregon, Canada, London, Amsterdam, Gascony, Poland, Germany, Denmark…. and of course Texas.

Michael welcoming those from close and afar.

Michael welcoming those from close and afar.

Michael constantly made sure we felt comfortable and at home – he even showed us a pork shoulder without a purpose in cold storage.

In a room full of butchers, that pork shoulder didn’t have a chance!

I immediately broke out my knives and removed all the bones.  I scored the skin on the opposite side and Dominique took over from there.  He gave the shoulder some salt and pepper as well as a beer to braise in. Since Michael had casually talked about Texas barbecue earlier in the day – I felt it was a perfect time to break out my great-grandmother's recipe.

Some good Texas BBQ sauce coming to a boil.

Some good Texas BBQ sauce coming to a boil.

While I prepared the sauce, Dominique took a pork tenderloin, covered it in mustard and placed it in the oven. Then he decided it was time for my final test under his supervision: Pâté de Campagne.

Taking the unused scraps and unwanted pieces of meat, along with potatoes, onions, and blanched liver, we made good use of Michael’s commercial kitchen. Two hours later, I had four beautiful terrines of pâté resting, waiting to be appreciated by my new meat friends and connoisseurs.

French pâtés ready to hit the oven.

French pâtés ready to hit the oven.

Not to be outdone, the Danes got busy in the kitchen as well. Gustav, a Danish master butcher the same age as I, prepared Rullepølse – rolled pig belly with sage, tied, put into a mold and boiled.

Gustav going to work on the pork belly

Gustav going to work on the pork belly

Absolutely amazing flavor!

As the crowd gathered, I shook hands and got to know some of the guys. Who would have thought I would run into a familiar face, but there was John Ratliff, owner of Ends Meat in Brooklyn. I originally met John back in NYC when I was apprenticing at Fleishers. He had given us a tour of his shop where he produces a wide variety of Italian-style charcuterie. He and his shop were one of the driving forces that originally led me to France to learn charcuterie.

The meat world is so small!

John Ratliff of Ends Meat, Brooklyn, NY

John Ratliff of Ends Meat, Brooklyn, NY

That evening, all of the butchers gathered around the large table in Folkets Madhus to officially begin the summit. Michael told his inspirational story and his motivation for the gathering.  One by one, people stood and formally introduced themselves until it was time to “break bread.” After a few beers, Michael suggested we head to bed to rest up for the long day ahead of us. Slowly, the crowd of butchers drifted across the street to an indoor soccer pitch (field), crowded with yellow, single person tents.

It's not the Ritz, it's the Yellow Tents
It's not the Ritz, it's the Yellow Tents

to be continued...