From a Brooklyn Butcher, Two New Books on Nose-to-Tail Knowledge

Serious, comprehensive, clear-eyed guides: butchery school without the tuition.

Credit: Keller + Keller Photography; from Butchering Poultry, Rabbit, Lamb, Goat, and Pork. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

I spent my formative years in a meat locker, watching my dad transform sides of beef, lamb and pig into steaks, chops and roasts. As a kid, I was more interested in the candy rack up front than the rack of lamb. Now, with the shop gone, I thought I’d lost my chance to learn. But thanks to Adam Danforth, I can master the complete art of butchery after all — and so can you.

Danforth, who studied professional meat processing at SUNY Cobleskill and logged many an hour behind the counter at Marlow & Daughters, has just released two category-killing textbooks entitled The Comprehensive Photographic Guide to Humane Slaughtering and Butchering — one on beef; the other on poultry, rabbit, lamb, goat and pork (Storey Publishing, March 2014).

Brooklyn butchers may be the new trophy spouses, but these books are not ironic manuals for dabblers’ coffee tables. They are serious, comprehensive, clear-eyed guides: butchery school without the tuition.

With vivid photographs, Danforth explains everything from slaughter (stunning, hanging, bleeding, skinning — see what I mean about this not being for the dabbler?) to breaking down every usable piece, muscle by muscle, bone by bone. That includes sanitation, safety and how to use everything from knives and grinders to band saws and honing rods.

My dad studied the pages of blood-splattered manuals that now sit on my shelf. I think if he’d had Danforth’s they would have been his bible.

Photo Credit: Keller + Keller Photography; from Butchering Poultry, Rabbit, Lamb, Goat, and Pork. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

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Amy Zavatto is the daughter of an old school Italian butcher who used to sell bay scallops alongside steaks, and is also the former Deputy Editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan. She holds her Level III Certification in Wine and Spirits from the WSET, and contributes to Imbibe, Whisky Advocate, SOMMJournal, Liquor.com, and others. She is the author of Forager's Cocktails: Botanical Mixology with Fresh, Natural Ingredients and The Architecture of the Cocktail. She's stomped around vineyards from the Finger Lakes to the Loire Valley and toured distilleries everywhere from Kentucky to Jalisco to the Highlands of Scotland. When not doing all those other things, Amy is the Director of the Long Island Merlot Alliance.