Category Archives: Pig butchery

Meet your butcher, Meet your meat

Calling all pork lovers!  I’m very happy to tell you that the collaboration between me and April Joy Farm has been hammered out and I’ll be taking on the cutting duties when they harvest their pigs in the fall.  What I am most excited about is an additional opportunity for you pork buyers to be there when your meat is being cut, wrapped and sausage made!

You will be able to ask questions, tell me exactly how you want your meat processed and if you’re so inclined I’ll hand the knife to you and give you a quick cutting lesson as well!

The farmers, Brad and April Thatcher, raise a small number of Tamworth heritage pigs for sale each year.  This year it’s about 20 and they tell me the orders from their participating families are coming in fast so if you’d like to add some of their pasture raised heritage pork to your freezer get your order in soon.  You can buy whole, 1/2 and 1/4 pig shares.

They have kindly offered to give Black Belt Butcher followers the same pricing they are currently offering their program participants.  This offer is good until April 15.

If you’re interested please email April at  She’ll send you all of the program details, pricing, payment schedule, etc.  Make sure you let her know that the BBB sent you!

April Joy Mama pig & piglets

April Joy Mama pig & piglets

April Joy Farm piglets

April Joy Farm piglets












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Filed under Butchery skills, Farm to table, Knife Skills, Meat Cutting, Nose to tail, Pig butchery, Whole hog cutting

The BBB joins Team April Joy Farm!

Recently my wife and I made a trip up to April Joy Farm. The 24 acre farm, located in Ridgefield, Washington, provides about 45 families with certified organic fruits and vegetables through their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program as well as supplying produce to some local chefs.

The Farmers, April and Brad Thatcher, also raise and sell heritage Tamworth pigs all Animal Welfare Approved and certified. Brad and April’s goal is to have their animals on the farm from beginning to end. That means conceived, born, raised, humanely slaughtered, cut and wrapped without ever leaving the gates of the farm. It doesn’t get any more farm to table than that!

April and Brad invited us to the farm to see their operation and to talk about the possibility of me taking on the cutting of their 20 or so pigs when they are ready in early fall.  I’m up for it but even more exciting to me is their idea to have the pig purchasing families get involved as well. They want to invite the families out to the farm to watch their pig being cut and allow them the opportunity to interact with me while I work.  I’d be able to talk to them about the variety of cuts available, the differences between them and the best techniques for cooking them.   And if anyone was game I could hand them a knife and give a quick lesson or two!

If you’re interested in a whole, half or quarter pig please contact April & Brad at April Joy Farm.


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Filed under Butchery skills, Farm to table, Knife Skills, Meat Cutting, Nose to tail, Pig butchery, Whole hog cutting

Battle Pork Leg….and the winner is….the BBB!

Last night I competed with 8 other butchers in the Whole Foods Market “Best Butcher” competition in Portland, Oregon.  We butchered, trimmed and tied as much product as we could get out of our pork legs.  After being judged on yield, skill, creativity and presentation yours truly came out the winner!  All I’ve got to say is winning feels awesome.  Best Butcher 3

This is the 3rd year that Whole Foods has sponsored a world-wide company competition pitting every store’s best butchers against each other in a battle of the knives.  I’ll be heading up to Seattle next week to compete again in the northwest regional contest.  If I’m lucky enough to win again then it’s on to Las Vegas for the national finals. Best Butcher 2


The grand finale will be back on my home turf in Portland, Oregon for the International finals to be held at FEAST Portland in September.


May the force of the knives be with me!  (and the cheers and support of these little guys)

My very own cheerleaders!

My very own cheerleaders!

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Filed under Butcher competition, Butchery skills, Knife Skills, Meat Cutting, Pig butchery

Pig Butchery Lesson

Red Wattle side of pork

I had the opportunity a couple of weekends ago to teach Anna and her friend Randy how to breakdown and cut a whole hog.  It was a pastured Red Wattle, a heritage breed, from Wendy and Jim Parker’s Heritage Farms Northwest outside of Dallas, Oregon.  The meat was a beautiful rosy color and the plentiful fat (in “butcher speak” known as bark) was super firm and white.  They’re going to get a lot of melt in your mouth porky goodness from that animal.

Knife sharpening with steel

I started the lesson off with a little knife sharpening and then brought out the old school hack saw to break it all down.  Anna and Randy like to do low and slow barbequing and smoking of their meats so we went for the whole cuts; picnic, shoulder, loin, ribs etc.  This will give them the flexibility of throwing the whole hunk on the grill or cutting it down into portion sizes later.

I always enjoy sharing what I know and it was a pleasure to spend time with Anna and Randy.

Cutting side of pig

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Filed under Butchery skills, Knife Skills, Meat Cutting, Pig butchery, Whole hog cutting