Last weekend I had the pleasure of tagging along with the crew from Weston A. Price Foundation's Hamilton branch on a tour of The Organic Butchery. And wow, am I impressed with the meaty goodness produced in this Hamilton-based butchery ...
I've never really thought much about what goes into a sausage. Sure I'm careful to check whether sausages are safe for me to eat from a food allergy perspective, but that's about where my knowledge of meaty goods ends. It turns out that not all sausages are created equal <tee hee>.
On our tour, Patrick, butcher at The Organic Butchery showed us what goes into one of his pre-cooked Bratwurst sausages: hock meat, pork back fat, mace, ginger, salt, pepper, lemon skin and dextrose. Yup that's it! No flour, no filler, just natural ingredients.
Patrick adds the flavourings to the hock meat and pork back fat in the mixer and spins it until it reaches a kind of doughy mousse consistency. After mixing, Patrick scoops the mixture into the filler and fills the casings, which are made from pig intestines (everything about these sausages is au naturale).
I don't want to get my hands dirty but the rest of the group has a go at flicking the long sausage tubes into individual sausages with mixed success. From there, the sausages are draped over a long piece of metal and placed in the cooker. While they cook, the butchery is filled with the yummy smell of porky goodness. #ICouldNeverBeVegetarian
While the sausages were cooking I had a chance to talk to Patrick about the butchery.
Trained in Germany, Patrick undertook a three year programme of study to qualify as a butcher, and then further advanced his qualification by completing a master year. It was an easy choice for Patrick to make meat his career. He came from a family of cabinet makers and butchers and says "I had to make a decision about what to do for the rest of my life, and that was making sausages ... everyone can see if it's a good product or a bad product. It's a handcraft, you can do the job all over the world."
So why New Zealand then? "I had to come ... here nobody can do good sausages" and as almost an afterthought adds "It's a beautiful country." It sounds like meat is his purpose for living, and the Operations Manager confides in me that Patrick is at the butchery practically 24/7.
Although it's sausages we're making today, there's a range of meats and meat products at The Organic Butchery, and it's all gluten-free (and freakin' yum!). I asked Patrick whether he had a food allergy, and he replied "Not at all, I eat bread ... there's just no reason for there to be filler [in meat products]."
Something that I was curious about was asked by one of the other real food followers during our tour: What's the difference between your sausages and supermarket sausages? Patrick says: "they're [supermarket sausages] all made out of the same sausage dough" a mix of meats with added beef or chicken flavouring. These sausages, he says dismissively are "only fat, flour and chemicals".
As the name suggests, the meat used at The Organic Butchery, is all organic with the exception of the pork (Patrick's still trying to source an organic pork supplier, but the pork is free range). He says that the quality of life of the animal affects the quality of the meat. "Often I have hunters come in here with pigs that they want to give me, but I turn them down. The stress that the pigs are under when they're hunted by dogs reduces the quality of the meat."
He says that people need to know that the meat they're consuming has come from an animal that's led a good life. "We need to think about what we eat. People should spend a little bit more on quality meat that has had a good life. Even if it means we only eat meat two to three times a week." The organic, free range meat he says "has higher nutrition, no pesticides and it feeds you better. So although you pay a bit more, you get better food."
As we depart the butchery each of us is given a few sausages to take home. Mine are quickly devoured by my husband for dinner later that evening in front of the tele.*
The Organic Butchery opened in March 2015 at it's site on the corner of Grasslands Place and Kahikatea Drive. Patrick says he's made his home here in Hamilton "Hamilton is the fastest growing city. I reckon it'll be the next capital, I'm sure about this!" Hamilton is lucky to have you Patrick, thanks for the tour, and the meaty treats!
* Don't worry, I didn't miss out on sausages, I was busy eating some of the delicious beef sausages from The Organic Butchery that I'd purchased earlier in the day.