Going Whole Hog at Pine Street Market

Going Whole Hog at Pine Street Market

As an Ambassador for CulinaryLocal, I recently attended a Whole Hog Butchering Class at Pine Street Market in Avondale Estates. Rusty, owner of Pine Street Market, Savannah (Rusty’s sister and) Executive Chef of Twain’s Brewpub, along with Tommy and Alecia Searcy, owners of Gum Creek Farms, assembled to teach attendees about humanely-raised proteins, the demand for them, and the importance they play in Atlanta’s dining scene.

20150801_112406Being a big fan of bacon, ham, prosciutto, and pork chops, I was curious to learn about the process of taking a hog from pasture to processing to retail and restaurant tables. This class is not for the faint of heart. Rusty enjoys playing with the hog and posing for photos (with the pig’s disembodied head) while effortlessly explaining what cuts come from which part of the pig. A former chef who has traveled the world, Rusty decided to become a full time butcher to share his passion for preparing quality cuts of meat with the restaurant community.

A pig split into two equal halves and ready for butchering is the first thing attendees see when they walk into Pine Street Market’s work area. Attendees watched as Rusty and Savannah broke down the hog into different cuts of meat (tenderloin, country ribs, and bacon). We even got to cut our own pork chops, (which we got to take home,) with a meat cleaver and a rubber mallet.

Pine Street Market’s pigs come from Gum Creek Farms in Roopville, Georgia. The owners, Tommy and Alecia, raise 200 antibiotic-free Berkshire pigs on their farm. These animals graze from rotational pastures in the woods to increase forage nutrition and to maintain healthy certified organic pastures.

Each pig grows to between 250 to 300 pounds (which takes roughly eight months) before being sent off to a humane processing plant. From there, they get to spend time in Pine Street Market’s work area and transform into: prosciutto, country ham, deli ham, tenderloin, pork chops, bacon, sausage, salami, and much more.

What struck me about Gum Creek Farms is their dedication to the humane treatment of the pigs, which includes how they are raised and how they are processed. Alecia said that raising pigs humanely is much more important to them than making money. This sentiment definitely shines through in the quality of their meat. Pine Street Market’s meats can be found on the menu at many local restaurants, such as JCT, King + Duke, Muss & Turners, Parish, The Bishop, and Twain’s Brewpub. Stop by their retail store in Avondale Estates or the Peachtree Road, Marietta Square, and Avondale Estates farmers’ markets to purchase and enjoy at home.

The class is engrossing. Before I knew it, it was time for lunch of pork tenderloin, pork chops, and pork skins served with watermelon and locally grown vegetables. The meat was beyond delicious, moist and flavorful.

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I left with a head full of knowledge and a belly full of the best pork I have ever tasted. Sign up for their upcoming Cooking 101: Basic Butchery and other classes at Pine Street Market and I promise you will not be disappointed.

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