Working with United Steelworkers in Gary, IN

Back in February, I received an email out of the blue from a company called C&C Operations, saying they were looking for someone to teach a sausage making class. The class was going to be in Gary, IN, at a career development center for United Steelworkers. Would I be available to teach it?

I’ve been a bike commuter since I started college, but I bought my first car this past January. A 2004 VW Golf wagon, stick shift. My dad taught me stick when I first learned to drive, though I haven’t driven much since. Driving to Gary, IN once a week to teach a sausage making class seemed daunting and maybe not worth the time. But as I went back and forth with C&C Operations, I realized that this was an opportunity I really wanted to take. They gave me complete freedom to teach the class however I’d like to teach it, and when I mentioned I’d like to start our first class by breaking down a whole ham and grinding our meat fresh, they didn’t bat an eye.

I was also excited about the opportunity to work with the United Steelworkers Union. C&C Operations is a company that provides personal development training classes to United Steelworkers nationally, and their classes run the gamut from drywalling, to jewelry making, to cooking. Because of scheduling issues, I had two students at this first class, but the intimate class size made for a fun and relaxed class, where the three of us got to decide exactly what we wanted to learn, make, and eat. Justin and Craig have both worked for United Steel for over 15 years, and they are close friends. At their request, we made cevapi, which I had never made or even eaten. It was rewarding to hear that it tasted exactly how it was supposed to! I learned a lot from them, and am I happy to say that C&C was able to schedule not only another sausage making class this coming fall, but a whole animal butchery class as well! Though we had our final session last week, I look forward to making the trip back to Gary come September.

Collaboration classes at Cellar Door Provisions

Over the last month, we have been lucky to use the kitchen at Cellar Door Provisions for two unique classes. On January 27th, we partnered up with Erika Kubick of @cheesesexdeath to show how to pair rich duck liver pâté with cheese. McCullough demonstrated making the pâté, including how to cap the creamy mixture with a flavorful and colorful port gelée. Cellar Door provided some of their incredible sourdough, and Diversey wines selected three bottles from their shop that would pair well with our cheese and charcuterie.

On February 10th, we were back at Cellar Door with a class that focused on the wines and charcuterie of France’s Jura region. Nadim Audi, our Chicago representative for the wine importing group Selection Massale, brought in three wines, two from the Jura and one from Lyon. McCullough made a traditional fromage de tête, and a saucisson lyonnais. Erika also provided two Jasper Hill cheeses in styles inspired by Comté and Mont d’Or. We tasted wines, ate charcuterie, cheese, and Cellar Door Bread, and McCullough butchered a hog’s head to demonstrate the best way to make the most of the whole animal.

We will be posting more dates soon for demonstrations, collaborations, and hands-on butchery classes very soon, so keep checking the site and we’ll see you soon!

First Hands-On Basic Pig Butchery Class!

This past Sunday, 1/13, we held our first hands-on basic pig butchery class! This class is at the core of the Meat Collective mission - we directly support a farm by buying whole animals directly from them, and we educate our students on whole animal break down, sending them home with a variety of cuts that they have butchered themselves.

This class was hosted by the Chop Shop in Wicker Park, and featured Duroc pork from La Pryor farms in Ottawa, Illinois. McCullough taught, and she was assisted by Eddie, Jason, and Tony, three skilled butchers in their own rights! Check out some photos from the class below, taken by Milos Otic (@meelowsh). We will be hosting another one of these classes soon, keep an eye on our site so you can take part in the next one!

Chicago Meat Collective Kicks Off!

Last weekend the Chicago Meat Collective kicked off with two classes. While the classes focused on different skill sets and final products, they had a common thread - they brought together people who want to see, feel, and taste where humanely raised meat comes from, getting closer to meat cookery traditions that honor the whole animal.

Friday night we collaborated with the Weston A. Price Society to teach the basics of making sausage while incorporating nutrient dense offal into the diet. Saturday afternoon, Floriole hosted us as we explored the history and technique surrounding one of the most medievally complex terrines out there: pâté en croûte. This demo covered everything from sourcing your pork, to balancing lean and fat, to making the dough and constructing an instagram worthy pâté en croûte.

Please join us in a couple weeks when we come together with @cheesesexdeath to talk about cheese boards and making a nutritious and elegant duck liver pâté, whether it be for stocking stuffers, or to be enjoyed by the spoonful, out of the jar! You can sign up by clicking here.