Traditionally, we process a whole pig in my organic restaurant at the beginning of the year. For us, this is pretty much the most exciting part of our work when it comes to processing animals. The variety of products that can be prepared from the whole animal is pretty unbelievable, as is how much yield we have from one animal and how many people eat from it.
Pork has a catastrophic image due to the slaughter industry, discounters, various scandals and contemptuous forms of husbandry and production. Of course, this is not the path we follow. We select a farm from the area and insist on exceptional quality.
For us, it is worth looking at the pig and the task entrusted to him on the farm. As an omnivore, the pig is responsible for using up leftovers on the farm – unused vegetables, unbackable cereals, catch crops, maybe even whey from the farm’s own cheese dairy. In return, the pig produces offspring, fertilizer for the fields, and of course, the entirety of his/her body, which we then process into food. The farms from which we obtain pigs have entrusted their animals with these tasks, in contrast to factory farming, which is about producing meat in the most effective way, as quickly and as cheaply as possible.
In general, we only use old breeds of pigs, which, in contrast to industrial animals, offer significantly more fat and are in much better health. This year we processed a field pig for the first time. These animals are on the pasture all year round and can pursue their natural behavior, such as wallowing in the mud. I visited the farm last year with my daughter to get an idea of the animal husbandry and to get to know the people who are responsible for the farm. We exchanged ideas extensively, got to know each other and learned a lot about farrow-to-finish pig farming.
We agreed to take over an animal in January.
When the time comes and we pick up the slaughtered animal, the kitchen is on high alert for a week. It is an enormous challenge to process a whole animal in so many different ways while still keeping the restaurant open to our guests. We are talking about almost 150 kg slaughter weight and well over 15 different ways of preparing and preserving the product. For example, we process blood and offal into blood sausage, black pudding, and coarse liver sausage. The head is boiled and made into jelly and baked pralines. We salt a large quantity of ham, to use over the next few months and especially during the asparagus season. Then ham is also cold or hot smoked, air dried and cured. We make sausages for lunch, cook rinds for sauerkraut and prepare many pieces for main courses. Then rillette, lard and other sausages are boiled down. All in all, it is a lot of work and also a technical challenge. It requires a lot of organization and impeccable teamwork.
Once the work is done, we are eager to taste the products ourselves and are very proud to serve them to our guests at the restaurant. It is an absolute rarity to work with such exceptional quality and to prepare dishes from it.
I have acquired the tools of the trade over the years by reading specialized literature, attending internships with butchers, visiting slaughterhouses and participating in trainings digitally. Then came the time to try out what I learned, in practice, on actual products.
We at Wolfs Junge process the animals whole, because when we consume meat and take the life of a living being for our food, it is our responsibility to make sure it is treated with respect and used fully.
“Nose-2-Tail” is not a marketing strategy for us, but an integral part of the concept behind our restaurant. There is so much waste in the industrial slaughterhouse and in the wholesale trade, and the animals are treated anonymously and with such lack of dignity, that I would find it repugnant to use such products. Were we to order from these providers, we would know nothing about the origin of this meat, who raised the animal, where the animal was raised and what it was fed, where it was slaughtered, and and and … For us and our restaurant, it is essential to know the animals we process and to have a relationship with the people who raise and slaughter these animals.
By now, we have completely processed the pork in our kitchen and are in the process of serving it, little by little, much to the delight of our guests. We serve it in a variety of ways: at lunchtime we have the bratwurst described above, in the evening we roast coarse black pudding with olives and raisins as an intermediate course, and for the main course we grill the neck and combine it with beetroot from the surrounding area.
We are absolutely committed to the high-quality of the food we serve. We wish to educate our guests and to explain why we think pigs are important on farms, how diversely they can be processed, and what cultural background these processes have.
What actively moves me personally are the moral and ethical foundations and problems that come with the consumption of meat. But to write about this here would go beyond the scope of this blog entry. At the moment, what I can say is that I take on this responsibility for myself and for my restaurant and that I look forward to the time when we can cut and taste our self-smoked ham in a few weeks, right on time for asparagus season.
Written by Sebastian Junge; Translation by H. Runte