Deconstruction of a Pig

The Corner Table restaurant in South Minneapolis is committed to supporting local producers and showcasing seasonal flavors. This comes through in the restaurant’s tasting menu, and through Tour De Farm, which was founded by Corner Table Owner / Executive Chef Scott Pampuch to bring together chefs, diners, and farms. But nothing really drives home a commitment to a slow food ideal like butchering a whole pig from Hidden Stream, a local producer based out of Elgin, MN.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

And that is what Chef Pampuch does a few times each month.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Having already removed the tenderloin (the pig came with head removed and carcass sawed in half) Chef Pampuch (left) and newly hired Chef Chris Olson (of Paired) wrestle with their respective sides to remove the shoulder.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Some somewhat graphic pig photos follow after the jump.

Then, the loin (the large muscle running along the back of the spine) is removed.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The spine is removed from the ribs. The spine, along with scraps, will be used to make stock, so the spine is cracked into multiple bits to expose more marrow.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Virtually the entire pig is used in the kitchen. Besides the obvious cuts like tenderloin, ribs, and loin, the pork bellies are made into pancetta and bacon. A fat layer is cured into lardo (an Italian cooking fat) and the tongue is rubbed with herbs for a tasting menu. Often, the scraps are cased to make sausage.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The pig’s tongue is removed from the head for cooking; the head is eventually stewed.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The belly is separated from the ribs (left); the belly is salted for curing (center); the tongue is prepared for diners using herbs including rosemary.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Salt is kneaded into the pork belly as part of the curing process for the creation of bacon and pancetta.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The lardo (or fat layer) is used to start sauces in place of butter.

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About the Author

Becca Dilley

Becca is an editorial and wedding photographer based in Minneapolis. Her work has been featured in Saveur, Food & Wine, The Knot, Minnesota Bride, Lavender, Veil, and Culture, as well as City Pages, and the Star Tribune. Together with her husband, Heavy Table editor James Norton, she has documented local food culture as photographer for The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin (UW Press 2009) and Lake Superior Flavors (UM Press 2014).

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11 Comments

  1. Great images captured by Becca. I wish I could have experienced it, but now I’m dreaming of house cured pancetta. Damn.

  2. That whole process is a thing of beauty. Looks like the guys are going snout to tail. Kudos for using all of nature’s resources.

  3. Teresa M 05/28/2009 Reply

    Excellent photo essay! People tend to be scared at the idea of seeing a meat animal being cut up, but this shows what a natural, wholesome process it is.

  4. great article. much respect to any restaurant who takes on the process like this.

  5. YUM!!!

Trackbacks for this post

  1. […] the work, which is documented in somewhat gory detail. Here’s a sample picture – much more at Heavy Table. Check it […]

  2. […] month to make the wonderful pork products that appear on their menu. The photos turned into a photo essay for the Heavy Table. A note of warning: the photos are a bit graphic, so please don’t follow the link unless you […]

  3. […] from the Hidden Stream pig that was broken down the previous week and featured on Heavy Table in this article. Braised with leeks, carrots, and herbs, the tongue is now tender and ready to adorn the plates of […]

  4. […] And Becca Dilley heads over to Corner Table to capture — in loving detail — the butchering of a whole pig. […]

  5. […] photos and words documenting a Scott Pampuch pig butchering and cooking class (we’ve also got a gorgeous photo essay on Pampuch vs. pig). » Lexington for Sale and Morning Roundup » Print Version // […]

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