By Anna Brown

Back in May, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend Adam Danforth’s Sustainable butchery Workshop at the Perennial in the mission. The workshop utilized a six-year-old culled ewe from Stemple Creek Ranch. Chefs, ranchers, and general foodies populated the small group. Adam carefully and skillfully walked us through the art of butchering a sheep or what is commonly referred to as mutton. He started the workshop by explaining how this type of holistic, pasture-raised, grass fed meat is the “beneficial byproduct of environmental restoration.”

Adam then went into the 3-F’s of butchering red meat such as lamb or beef: Fibers, Fat and Fascia. He explained how muscle fibers act as the cellular foundation of all muscles and are long like spaghetti. There are different kinds of fat found in red meat. These fat cells are like Tupperware containers that hold energy and also manage the animal’s temperature. Fascia is the connective tissue that holds everything together, like a strong fabric. He likened it to denim; strong but pliable.

Adam also went into great detail about the relationship between tenderness and flavor and how the higher the presence of contractile proteins, the stronger the flavor, but the lower the tenderness…and vice versa. He accentuated the importance of hang time as well as the treatment of the animal before slaughter and the different effects stress can have on the meat.

I gained an immense amount of knowledge from this workshop and it added to the intense curiosity and fascination I have about animal agriculture and meat. I am happy that TomKat Ranch was able to nurture my curiosity and education by sending me to this workshop. I am looking forward to the next time I can take a workshop with Adam. He is a man of his craft and is wise beyond his years when it comes to handling meat.

FUN FACT: Although many mammals have a pair of clavicles, they are absent in cattle, sheep, and pigs. The clavicle functions as a sort of bar to support the shoulder joint in animals which have complete mobility of the shoulder joint. Since cattle, sheep, and pigs have “cursorial limbs” with a restricted front/back body movement, they do not need clavicles (http://animalbiosciences.uoguelph.ca/~swatland/ch2_1.htm). How cool!