So I’m back in school. I’m taking Garde Manger (pronounced garde–man·ger noun \ˌgärd-ˌmäⁿ-ˈzhā\…something like that). On the first day we have to fabricate (cut up and prepare for cooking/preparation) a whole suckling pig. By the picture you’re thinking “Luau baby”! Yeah that would be great also; but today, we’re gonna hack this little guy’s head off.
The Chef instructor…whom will probably be featured in a future”Recognizing Awesomeness” feature of mine, shows the class, in very basic, meticulous detail, how to properly hold the knife, separate (cut) the various primal cuts of the animal and explain what the cuts will be used for (i.e. ribs, tenderloin, butt, etc.). The Chef is cutting through a still semi-frozen carcass and explains that it is difficult to manipulate the various areas of the carcass to gain access to other areas to be cut away. He pulls and pushes, sticking his knife along bones and between various meat sections. Cracking bones and frozen sections, he comes to the head.
Since this is the first day of a new class…you know the routine, the Chef had explained about class policies and the syllabus; how each of us was responsible to show up to class etc. He explains that being late is unacceptable and points will be taken away from our grade. He further explains that he can’t really remove grade points for doing a procedure incorrectly because this is a school…and we’re expected to make mistakes in the kitchen process. He goes on to say that if we were a brain surgeon and dropped the brain…well, that would kinda be unacceptable; but if we were to drop the head of the pig, we would have only a minor setback, wash it off, and we’d still be able to work with it and still make “head cheese”.
So he’s cutting up the still slightly frozen pig. Gets to the head and sticks his knife deep into the flesh and bones, cutting pushing and pulling at the flesh. He places the head off the end of the table to push the head down and break it off at the bones. He gives a good push and it just slightly cracks but doesn’t break free. He sticks the pig back on the cutting surface and cuts a bit more into the carcass. Goes again to place the head off the edge of the table to crack it off…braces the pigs body with his elbow, and suddenly, “plop” off comes the head, surprising himself and the class, as the head just kinda fell off onto the floor and rolled away. So I look at the Chef and laugh. So I give my typical smart-ass remark, “Chef…you dropped the head”. He looks up and just laughs…”yeah, I guess we’ll have to make some cheese”.
It was much funnier if you were there. I tried to bring it to you, but instead I’ll just show you pictures instead.
Have fun and keep the dreams alive!