View this email in your browser
This week we rave about pigs, welcome back Grasslands Sommerlads chickens, extol the virtues of vitellone, offer an unusual Valentine's gift  and explain the dearth of prime beef cuts over the last few weeks (it's that Whole Animal Butcher thing biting us on the bum again).
There are spots left in our 23rd February Sausage Making Class. If you're interested or you received a class gift voucher at xmas, please get in touch asap! Autumn classes are up online too so book in soon.

Also Sift Produce fruit and vegetables are here this Saturday and the fruit and tomatoes in particular look amazing. Delicious with Burraduc Buffalo mozzarella, basil and a drizzle of Karrabool award-winning EV olive oil. We're also planning to try this honey-roasted plum and thyme recipe with Sift plums, Malfroys Gold honey and Kristen Allen's ricotta.

Right, on with the show. 
2019 is the Year of the Pig. Which got us thinking (again) about how most pork is sold and purchased as a sort of undifferentiated, generic, conveyer-belt product with no reference to the pig or the system in which it was raised.

Which also got us thinking (again) about how the vast majority of Australian pigs are raised in a confined space, require expensive manure management procedures and are fed a medicated diet of unsustainably-grown grains. Compare that to the 3% of pasture-raised pigs that galivant around freely, fertilising paddocks as they go, nesting where they will and eating a diverse range of foods including the excess products from local food producers such as dairies and breweries. Which brought us to the farmers we represent and the important work they do in fostering healthy ecosystems on their farms that benefit soil, plants, animals and people.

So we made a little video love letter to these visionary farmers and their pastured pigs in the hope that by encouraging everyone to support them, more will join their ranks. 

2019 is the Year of the Pig. But let's be clear about what kind of pig we really want to eat and what kind of farm we really want to support.  
Supporting pastured food production systems such as these farms means putting your money where your mouth is
How you spend your money determines what gets produced.

In our humble opinion, when the pork is this good, that's not difficult. This week we're offering pork from three different farms, all of which we're confident you'll enjoy - whether you're nibbling on a barbecued chop, tucking into melt-in-your-mouth, slow-cooked roast shoulder or enjoying a home-made 
pork banh mi.

Extraordinary Pork Duroc/Berkshire pigs
We've blathered on a lot about these wonderful farmers over the last few years. You can read about them on their website and in our stories here and here and here. As well as growing excellent pork and working doggedly toward a long-term vision of regenerating their farm outside Dubbo, Michael and Alex Hicks are one of a handful of Australian farmers who've managed to install an on-farm abattoir to streamline and improve their production. It's a really significant achievement that will make an enormous difference to the Hicks and their pigs and provides inspiration for other farmers to take control of the process.
Sally's Flat Berkshire pigs
Andrew and Penny Hundy grow
award-winning superfine wool at their farm at Sally's Flat between between Bathurst and Mudgee, not far from Hill End. They also run a small flock of Southdown lambs for their own table and, intermittently since 2010, we've purchased and sold these excellent lambs. Recently, the Hundys started growing Berkshire pigs for the same purpose and found themselves awash with pigs (unlike sheep which produce one or two lambs annually, a sow can produce up to 24 piglets). Enter Feather and Bone. We received our first delivery of 6 month-old porkers last week and used one as a demo for last Saturday's Whole Animal Butchery class. At the end of the class we cooked up some cuts on the bbq - US ribs, fillet, cutlets, scotch fillet (neck) steaks and thin-cut boned belly simply sprinkled with salt - and the pork was excellent. Soft, succulent meat with firm fat and great flavour.    
Fresh Pastures - 'for the love of soil'
We've only recently started working with Ian Chapman at
Fresh Pastures and he's the only one of these three farmers that we haven't visited. However, his reputation precedes him and we have no qualms about his authenticity, experience and the quality of his pork. The Fresh Pastures herd are predominantly Wessex Saddleback with infusions of Berkshire, Hampshire and Landrace and comprise part of Ian's regeneratively managed mixed farm growing cattle, sheep and pigs at Stuart Town just north of Orange. Here they are tucking into whey from the local dairy.
As we said (way back at the beginning of this newsletter - there is always so much to say, it's impossible to be brief), you may have noticed a dearth of beef prime cuts on offer. In fact, as a customer pointed out yesterday, the only beef steaks available online are minute steaks which don't really cut it when you've got a vision of a plump, juicy sirloin driving you to distraction. In December and January in particular, Australians go crazy for prime bbq cuts - it's sirloin galore from Darwin to Devonport.

We get it, but we also need you to get this. These desirable prime cuts only constitute around 16% of the meat yield from an average beef carcass. 

Variables include cattle breed, age and growing conditions but, as a rough rule of thumb, each beef carcass yields about 70% usable meat (depending on the body, about 30% is fat and bone which we do use but don't sell as meat cuts). 16-20% of the useable meat is the prime cuts - eye fillet, scotch, sirloin, rump, all the stuff everyone wants as steaks. We dry age these portions of the carcass to improve flavour and texture for up to six weeks which involves some reduction through moisture loss and trimming the outer layer of oxidised meat. The remaining 80% or so of the usable meat is all 'secondary cuts', many of which yield delicious, though less tender, steaks or require slow cooking to render their excellent flavour. 

So, as the lunatic butchers who insist on buying whole bodies, we have to buy a lot of beef bodies to satisfy demand for the 16% of prime cuts. Which also means an awful lot of secondary beef to sell in the hottest summer on record when y'all ain't much interested in long, slow cooking and there's only so much mince and sausages you can make before the whole thing tips over. It's a tricky juggling act and it doesn't always work out perfectly.

This is the whole animal butcher's summer conundrum (word of the week) and hopefully it goes some way toward explaining why, for the last few weeks, there hasn't been much beef on the block.

(Now, while this may sound like a tedious whinge, we promise it's not (really). Because, while committing to whole body butchery isn't exactly straightforward in a world which rewards scale, speed and volume, it's also a wonderfully rewarding, interesting, fulfilling and meaningful way to interact with the animal, the farmer, the butcher and the customer. Only once in 12 years,
under exceptional circumstances, have we received meat in a box and it was a very weird experience that we'll be happy not to repeat. Trust us, we love what we do!) 

But there's a beefy light on the horizon!
Hanging in our cool room are some gorgeous Gundooee organic Wagyu and Wallendbeen Specklepark bodies that will get us back into the cycle and ensure supply of all cuts. The prime cuts are ageing beautifully and some will be available in the shop this weekend.

The secondaries are all ready to go -
blade, chuck, minute and skirt steaks are gorgeous on the bbq - and all are perfect on a really good steak sandwich with loads of fresh rocket, tomato, mayo, pickles, cheese, chutney and whatever else you've got in the fridge and larder that looks delicious. Anything goes. 
BUT WHY WAIT FOR BEEF? Try Franckin's bio-dynamic Brangus vittelone!  
Personally, I wouldn't wait for the beef when there's Franckin's veal available now.  We've been buying Tony and Josie's veal grown at their beautiful, Comboyne farm every month since 2011 and it never fails to delight - lovely
chops, cutlets and seedy schnitzel or slow cook marinated shoulder or neck and serve thinly sliced at room temperature on a fresh summer salad with loads of juicy tomatoes, olive oil and some Burraduc mozzarella.
Ethical Oporto? Organic, butterflied charcoal chicken for the conscientious carnivore! 
There are few things as delicious as barbecued butterflied, marinated Portugese chook. But if you care about the way chickens are raised, Oporto and all the other charcoal chicken joints just aren't an option - the only way you're ever going to be able to eat charcoal chicken is if you make it all from scratch yourself. The Ferals would roll their eyes, call this 'a trek' and slope back to their fetid caves. We get it. 
So, while we're not agreeing to come and cook it for you at home, we can do just about everything else for you - source a good chook, butterfly it, marinate it and deliver it to you, if you wish. All you have to do is light the bbq and cook it.
We're offering three delicious variations:
Portugese, Mediterranean or Moroccan.
Ok, so it's a bit of a departure from roses and chocolates. But if you identify more with Morticia than Elle Woods then you might find these gorgeous painted skulls very appealing (clearly, we're in the Morticia category). Inspired by traditional Dutch Delft pottery and hand painted by artist Henrietta Farrelly-Barnett, we think these skulls are the perfect gift. Prices range from $650 to $150. Enquire here for more images and price list. 
CHEW THE FAT  Read our blog for stories from the farms, produce and event news, ruminations on value and trust, a few dodgy jokes and the occasional rant about food labelling. Sometimes we talk about our pets - chickens, children, dog.
If you're planning to come by car, please park in front of Feather and Bone, Unit 8. There's room for five cars and there's usually a free spot. If there's no room in front of our place, please park on the street outside the complex. We and our neighbours thank you for your consideration.
Pick up: order by close of business.
Delivery: order by 12.00 the day before. 

Check out where we go and on which day.

Pick up an order or browse. 
Open Tuesday - Saturday:
8.00 am - 4.00 pm

8/10-14 Lilian Fowler Place
Marrickville, NSW 2204

(02) 9818 2717

Order a box: pick up on Saturdays
Produce stall: every 2nd Saturday
Copyright © 2019 Feather and Bone Butchery, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can
update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.