A Passion That Fits A Purpose - Butchering 2022

Benjamin Haas |

As the holidays pass and January moves along, I flip the switch from the end of year hustle and bustle to planning the year’s menu. That’s right, the YEAR’S menu. According to my records (is anyone surprised that I keep these kinds of records?) this will be my 15th year participating in a family butchering weekend. It fills the freezers (I’m now up to 2.5) with another year’s worth of steaks, ribs, pork shoulders, roasts, bacon, pork chops, ham, scrapple, dry beef, and… a long list of sausages.

I’ve admittedly evolved in my approach to butchering over the last 15 years, adjusting to both a growing family, different taste buds and the need to do more to feed more. But I’ve also gotten far more particular and adventurous about trying new things. It once was mixing 2-3 types of sausages. I’ll now be doing 8 different flavors this year. And what was once just freezing fresh sausage has now becoming a 6-8 week curing process for some, and in the case of making a prosciutto leg, a 12-month curing process.

For those that have followed my growing passion for what I’ll call “artisan meats,” this year’s addition will be a second attempt at a chorizo recipe (your welcome, Desiree). With fresh sausages, it’s not hard to mix seasonings in a fresh patty and do a taste test. You quickly assess and adjust before casing many pounds of that flavor. When it comes to a curing process, a live bacteria is used to dry cure the sausage in a controlled environment (temperature and humidity) over 6-8 weeks. You can season just as the recipe calls for, but there’s no taste testing! The curing process changes flavors, adds a level of acidity, adjusts the output in both taste and texture.

It’s fun… but to get it right, takes a greater deal of trial and error than one might like. It took me 4 years to get to a pepperoni recipe I loved and 3 years for a soppressata. I’m on year 2 of chorizo because last year’s wasn’t very hot. And year 2 for a smoked andouille recipe I use for my newfound seafood gumbo obsession (thank you Savannah, GA).

I’d be remiss to not mention the fact that this is very much a labor of love. It’s a very special time for me, taking 3 days out of my life dedicated to spending time with my father, godfather, friend/father figure, and brother, all while reminiscing through the many memories of butchering with my uncles who have passed. It’s a weekend I highlight on the calendar every year. And to know it’s creating traditions for my boys too, all while feeding the family? Now that’s having a passion with a purpose.

Here’s to T. Haas Family Butchering 2022! I’ll make samples available upon request.


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