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The butcher in your living room

March 7, 2011 | 11:36 am

Butcher And for the latest in home entertainment –- butchery! No, seriously, there’s something artistic about the way a good butcher works, and Cole Ward, whose new “The Gourmet Butcher … From Farm to Table” has just been released, is certainly a very good butcher.

It works on a number of levels. First, of course, is the sheer pleasure of watching a craftsman operate. Ward’s cuts are smooth, clean and sure. For those who are interested in taking culinary do-it-yourself to the next level, this could even act as a how-to. Ward is a terrific teacher.

But this set is educational even if you never intend to take a meat saw into your kitchen. Cuts of meat in the grocery store are presented as badly shuffled pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, with little or no attempt made to clue you in to what the original big picture looked like. That’s important information for a cook, though, and Ward lays it out admirably for pork, beef and lamb.

With pork, for example, he starts with a half a pig, breaking it down first into primal parts and then into cooking cuts. It turns first into the front leg, back leg and center section. The center section is broken into the ribs, tenderloin and belly, which are then subdivided into cuts such as baby backs, pork belly and center-cut pork chops.

Suddenly, the whole jigsaw makes sense: Even why the Boston butt comes from the front shoulder while the picnic shoulder comes lower down.

“The Gourmet Butcher,” a two-DVD set, is available from www.thegourmetbutcher.com for $29.95.

--Russ Parsons

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