Basic Butchering of Livestock & Game by John J. Mettler [amazon pdf ebooks]

  • Full Title : Basic Butchering of Livestock & Game: Beef, Veal, Pork, Lamb, Poultry, Rabbit, Venison
  • Autor: John J. Mettler
  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Storey Publishing, LLC; Rev and Updated ed. edition
  • Publication Date: January 10, 1986
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0882663917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0882663913
  • Download File Format: mobi


This guide takes the mystery out of butchering, covering everything you need to know to produce your own expert cuts of beef, venison, pork, lamb, poultry, and small game. John J. Mettler Jr. provides easy-to-follow instructions that walk you through every step of the slaughtering and butchering process, as well as plenty of advice on everything from how to dress game in a field to salting, smoking, and curing techniques. You’ll soon be enjoying the satisfyingly superior flavors that come with butchering your own meat. 



“With this book in hand, you should be able to take just about any animal from pen to freezer.”

“Provides clear, concise, and step-by-step information for people who want to slaughter their own meat.”

From the Publisher

An Outdoor Life Book Club Selection



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flavor is rather powerful, and because the distilled water comes in varying degrees of strength, it is worth adding a little less than the amount stated to begin with, and adding more to taste.

Pomegranate molasses, also called concentrate and syrup, is made from the juice of sour (not sweet) pomegranates boiled down to a thick syrup. Some varieties are a bit too sweet for my liking. A little added lemon juice or wine vinegar can improve on the sweet-and-sour flavor.

Preserved (or pickled) lemons lend a unique and distinctive flavor to Moroccan dishes. (Some British importers call them “pickled,” claiming that “preserved” here denotes a “sweet” preserve.) Pickled in salt, they lose their sharpness. To make them yourself, see pages 36–37.

Rose Water, produced by boiling rose petals and condensing the steam in an alembic or still, is used to perfume syrups, pastries, and puddings. It is weaker than orange blossom water and can be used less sparingly. The two are often used together.

Saffron, highly prized red threads—the pistils of the purple Crocus sativus—are much used in Moroccan cooking. There are various grades. The highest have an incomparable flavor. It is better to buy the threads than the powders, but in certain dishes a powder is more useful for giving color. Some commercial powdered saffron is very good and worth buying (it is cheaper than the threads), but some is adulterated or not the real thing.

Sumac, a dark wine-colored spice with an astringent sour flavor, is made from the coarsely ground dried berries of the sumac shrub. Turks and Lebanese use it frequently to sprinkle on grills and salads, or on fish. It can be used instead of lemon.

Tahini is a paste made of ground sesame seeds. It is used very much in Lebanon, where it is spelled tahina or tehineh. (We call it tahini because it was first imported from Cyprus.) Because it separates, with the oil coming to the top and the thick paste remaining at the bottom, it needs to be stirred with a spoon before use.

Preparing Vegetables

To Prepare Artichoke Bottoms: Choose large globe artichokes and cut off the stems at the base. With a pointed knife and cutting around it spirally, trim off all the leaves and any hard bits around the base. Putting the artichoke on its side, cut away the top leaves, then remove the chokes. Rub each prepared artichoke bottom with a squeezed lemon half, and drop it into a bowl of water acidulated with 2 to 3 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice to keep it from discoloring.

Salting Eggplants: It is the custom to salt eggplants to make them sweat and rid them of their bitter juices and to make them absorb less oil when they are fried. These days, eggplants are not bitter, and even if they have been salted, they absorb a lot of oil when they are fried. I now prefer to broil or roast eggplants, in which case salting is not necessary. But if you are frying, it is worth salting them. There are two traditional ways: One is to soak them in salted water for 30 minutes to 1 hour—this also stops them from discoloring if you have to wait for some time before you use them. Another is to sprinkle them with plenty of salt, leave them in a colander to disgorge their juices, then rinse them and pat them dry with absorbent paper towels.

To Roast and Mash Whole Eggplants: Prick the eggplants in a few places with a pointed knife to prevent them from exploding. Turn them over the flame of a gas burner or barbecue, or under a preheated broiler on a sheet of foil on an oven tray, until the skin is charred all over and they feel very soft. Alternatively, place them on a sheet of foil on an oven tray and roast them in the hottest oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until they are very soft. When cool enough to handle, peel the eggplants (you can do this under cold running water), drop the flesh into a colander or strainer, and chop it with a knife, then mash it with a fork, letting their juices escape. Adding a squeeze of lemon juice helps to keep the purée looking pale and appetizing.

Garlic: Garlic cloves must be firm, not soft or hollow. If it has begun to sprout inside a clove, cut into the middle of the clove and remove the pale green sprout, which has a bitter taste. To crush the garlic clove, bash it on a board under the flat blade of a large knife, then chop it or scrape it to a mush on the board. Or use a garlic press—I have nothing against them but so many are useless. My own works very well and dates from my school days in Paris.

To Roast and Peel Bell Peppers: Grill them over the flame of a gas burner or barbecue, or put them on a sheet of foil on an oven tray under a preheated broiler. Turn them until their skins are black and blistered. Alternatively, roast them in the hottest oven for 30 minutes, turning them once, until they are soft and their skins blistered and blackened. To loosen the skins further, put them in a strong plastic bag, twist it shut, and leave for 10 to 15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel them and remove and discard the stems and seeds. Strain the juice that comes out since it can be added to the dressing.

To Peel Tomatoes: Prick the skins with a pointed knife, pour boiling water over them, and leave for 1 minute before draining and pulling off the skin.

About Fillo Pastry

Fillo is used in Turkey and Lebanon. In Lebanon, another pastry called rakakat, like a very thin, soft, large round pancake, softer and more malleable and also tougher than fillo, is used to make savory pies. I have used fillo instead of rakakat and instead of the Moroccan paper-thin pancake called warka or brick with perfect results.

Fillo is widely available both fresh and frozen. Commercial brands generally weigh 14 ounces (packages used to be 1 pound) but vary in the size of sheets and their fineness. I have come across the following sizes: 20 inches [.dotmath] 12 inches, 19 inches [.dotmath] 12 inches, 18 inches [.dotmath] 13¾ inches, 18 inches [.dotmath] 12 inches, 12 inches [.dotmath] 7 inches, and 11½ inches [.dotmath] 5 inches, and they will often vary by a fraction of an inch even within the same brand. Sizes are not given on the packaging. Supermarket brands usually contain fresh sheets in the smaller size, while packages containing large-size sheets are usually sold, frozen, in specialty stores. If you are using a frozen brand, it is important to find a reliable one, as some are totally unsatisfactory, with damp sheets sticking together when defrosted and tearing when you try to use them.

Frozen fillo must be allowed to defrost slowly for 2 to 3 hours. Packages should then be opened just before using, and the sheets should be used as quickly as possible since they become dry and brittle when exposed to the air. Keep them in a pile as you work, always brushing the top one with melted butter so the air has no opportunity to dry them out. If you have to leave them for a few minutes, cover them with plastic wrap. Any leftover pieces can be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator for later use.

Fillo pies with any filling, except one that is too moist, can be frozen uncooked and put straight from the freezer into the oven without thawing. They will need a little more cooking time.

Moroccan cooking is the most exquisite and refined of North Africa, famous for its couscous, its crispy multilayered pies and delicately flavored tagines, its marriages of meat with fruit, and its extraordinary combinations of spicy, savory, and sweet. In a society based around the family, where the oldest generation of women is still mostly illiterate, cooking is a woman’s art and still an oral tradition with its secrets passed down from mother to daughter. It is the lore learned in the kitchen, a precious heritage, which a bride brings to her husband’s home. It is an all-important activity, central to every aspect of life. In Morocco, any reason, any event, happy or sad, is an occasion for meeting around the table.

Styles of cooking go back hundreds of years. Some are rooted in the rural traditions of the indigenous Berber populations of Morocco, while an important grand style is a legacy from the royal kitchens of the great Moroccan dynasties—the Almoravides, Almohads, Merinids, Saadians, and Alaouites—that has echoes from medieval Baghdad and Muslim Spain. Morocco was invaded by the Arabs in several waves from the seventh until the fourteenth century. More than any other country that adopted Islam, it inherited most directly the high culinary culture of Baghdad in the time of the Abbasid caliphs when that city was the capital of the Islamic Empire, and its court cuisine was influenced by Persian styles. In 711, the Arabs invaded Spain with North African Berber foot soldiers. They conquered the peninsula and remained in the south, which became known as Al Andalus, for almost 800 years. From the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries, the ruling dynasties in Muslim Spain—the Almoravides and the Almohads—were Berber. The capital cities of their vast empire that spread through Spain, Tunisia, Algeria, and into Senegal, were in Morocco, this country becoming a center of excellence and sophistication.

Until the final expulsion of the Moors from Spain in 1492, there was constant cultural exchange between Spain and Morocco. A new eclectic style of cooking developed in the part of Spain that was under Muslim occupation. It was a multicultural civilization with people from various parts of the Muslim and Mediterranean world, including Jews and the indigenous Christians. A Kurdish lute player known as Ziryab, a freed slave from the court of Harun al Rashid in Baghdad who joined the court of Cordoba, is credited in particular for transforming the art of living and cooking in Andalusia. He introduced new music and taught people how to dress and wear makeup. He established rules of etiquette—table manners and table setting, and the order of serving three different courses—and encouraged refinements in the kitchen.

When the Moors were finally thrown out, many found refuge in Morocco, where they settled mostly in Tangier, Tetouan, and Fez. These “Andalusians,” as they were called, brought with them the exuberant and convivial lifestyle that had blossomed in Spain. They also started a culinary renaissance. You can see their influence in the country’s architecture, you can hear it in the music, and you can taste it in the food.

Other influences on Moroccan cuisine are through the influx of thousands of black slaves from central Africa in the seventeenth century, and also Ottoman influences via refugees from Algeria and Tunisia who migrated while those countries were under Ottoman rule.

Regional Cooking

Some years ago I was invited to a festival celebrating the regional cooking of Morocco, held in Fez. Each night, we were offered a taste of at least twenty-five dishes coming from two or three cities, while musicians, singers, and dancers entertained us. It was an enthralling experience. In Moroccan cooking, there are traditions that come from the countryside, the mountains, and the sea—both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean— and there is urban cooking that varies from one city to another. Some dishes are common throughout Morocco, varying only by the spicing and by one or two ingredients, but every city also has its own special dishes and distinctive style, which reflects its geographic position and climate as well as its past. In Tangier and Tetouan in the north, the influences are Andalusian and Mediterranean and there is also, unusually for Morocco, an Ottoman influence, especially in the pastries such as ktaief (see page 230) and baklava. In the south, in Marrakesh, Safi, and Essaouira, the influences come from Africa and the Atlantic. The cooking of Fez reflects the mix of its past inhabitants, Arab, Andalusian, Berber, and Jewish (the old Jewish quarter, the Mellah, situated in the medina, backs on to the Royal Palace), as well as the city’s position on the camel-caravan spice route. A particularly refined and sophisticated bourgeois cuisine emanates from cities such as Fez, Meknès, and Marrakesh that were once imperial capitals and are now gastronomic rivals with very distinctive styles of cooking.

A Festive Meal in a Traditional Moroccan Home—a Riad

You arrive at the traditional Moroccan house from a narrow street in the medina. There is a blank wall, with a tiny window. You enter by a heavily studded wooden door through a dark, narrow corridor carpeted with fragrant rose petals and arrive in a glorious inner patio filled with little fruit trees and scented flowers. The floor and arched walls around it are lined with cobalt blue, turquoise, and yellow mosaics called zeligs. Water trickles from a fountain. Alcoves around the courtyard are ornately decorated. Brilliantly colored hangings line the walls of the living area. Placed against them are low sofas with embroidered cushions. The meal is served in the patio. The scent of jasmine hangs in the air. A band plays Andalusian music. The tables are large brass trays on low, folding legs. You sit on cushions around them. The crockery is classic Chinese. Long ago, Moroccans fell in love with Chinese porcelain with blue designs; now they make it themselves.

You wash your hands in water poured from a jug and then in rose water sprinkled from a silver flagon. Dishes follow one another. A multitude of appetizers (kemia): pickles; spiced vegetable purées; fried fish in a sauce flavored with cumin, chili, and green cilantro; pastry “cigars” filled with chopped meat and with shrimp. Then pigeon pie— baby pigeons stuffed with nutty couscous in a saffron and ginger honey sauce, followed by a tagine of lamb with wild artichokes, broad beans, and preserved lemon, and another with quinces. And next, couscous—mountains of it—crowned with meat cooked to melting tenderness, and with vegetables pressed into the sides of the mountains of grain. Then platters of fruit, followed by mint tea and almondy pastries. You might be worried by how much food is left uneaten. But the next day, family, friends, and neighbors have their feast, and what is left—every bit of it—is eaten by the cooks, staff, and helpers. That, too, is part of the ritual.

The Dada s and their Secrets

Men are excluded from all kitchens. The great cooks—family cooks, professional cooks, those who cook for weddings and parties, the guardians of the great culinary traditions—are the dadas. They are all women and most of them are black. Who they are is a taboo subject; the hidden face of Morocco. The women are descended from African slaves who were brought from the Sudan, which was once part of the Moroccan empire. In the seventeenth century, the sultan Moulay Ismail recruited 150,000 slaves from the Sudan and the states of the African Sahel. The men became the origin of the Sherifan black guard. The women became domestics in people’s homes. Some became concubines, some wives, some were freed and became midwives. In imperial Fez, it was not uncommon for men of great families to choose young dadas as their fourth wives so that they would look after their children and cook. Their children were often formally recognized and took on the father’s name. A form of bondage went on until not so long ago, and the women remained illiterate. That is why it is still a taboo subject. I heard this from Fatema Hal, anthropologist, food writer, and owner of the restaurant La Mansouria in Paris.

In more recent times dadas have joined cooks’ corporations, catering for great occasions such as weddings, circumcisions, and receptions. A man is in overall charge on such occasions, an amine, or chief. It is he who discusses the menu with the host, works out quantities, and hires the giant saucepans and piles of crockery, silver teapots, ornate tea glasses, and trays.

The women arrive, heads tied in fringed and floral scarves, with their helpers and their pots and pans, and stay several days with the families. They shop, slaughter sheep and pigeons, prepare the warka for bstilla, set up the big, copper pans on braziers, and prepare all the dishes while the ladies of the house and their relatives busy themselves with the sweet pastries. These dadas pass on the oral traditions of grand cooking to each other. They also pass, from one kitchen to another, the inside stories and scandals of the top families. Their stories of sorcerers and devils frighten the children who gather to watch the activities around the giant pans and to see the dadas throw a grain of incense in the fire to drive away the jnoun (devil). They are paid little but they are fed and they can take home the offals and leftovers.

Some dadas have become famous itinerant specialists of one dish only or a culinary style. A few lead the battalions of women in the kitchens of the best hotels. Most of the great ones who lived all their lives with families are old now. They are disappearing, and people have had to learn to do without them. Some of their specialties, such as the paper-thin pancakes called warka (or brick) (see page 29), can now be bought loose at the souk and vacuum-packed in supermarkets.

Street Food

Donkeys carry produce from the country—great bundles of fresh green mint and cilantro, baskets of fat tomatoes, little wild purple artichokes, long fleshy cardoon stalks—into the heart of the medina through the narrow, meandering streets and into the souk. Powerful aromas emanate from the mounds of red, gold, and brown powders, curious looking roots, bits of bark, shriveled pods, seeds, berries, bulbs, rose buds, and orange blossoms, which are on display in the spice shops. Vendors pack the spices into tightly rolled cones of newspaper and offer them as though they were magic potions. Some of the spice merchants are also magic men. I got to know one who said he was a white magic man who defeated the evil eye and black magic spells. Mostly it meant he dealt with any mischief from co-wives and restored potency to men.

In every town, in the souks, in the old medinas—the squares where weekly markets set up—at bus stops on inter-city roads, there are street vendors. From tiny cafés and boutiques as small as a cupboard, from carts or stands, or sometimes from an upturned box with a chair for customers, they offer their specialties: boiled carrot salad with cumin, harira (soup with meat or chicken, chickpeas, lentils, or other beans), tiny spicy snails, grilled minced meat on skewers, spongy pancakes, fritters in sugar syrup.

Place Djemaa-el-Fna in Marrakesh is the most enthralling gastro-theater. One of my friends has a medical clinic there. I stayed in the family home and hung around the square day and night. During the day, musicians and dancers from the mountains, snake charmers, fire-eaters, letter writers, storytellers, fortune-tellers, have possession of the huge square. As the sun begins to fall, the entire area is taken over by hundreds of cooks. They set up stands and trestle tables, and start charcoal fires. Clients sit on benches around each stand. All night long the vendors serve soups from huge pots, often accompanied by dates. The smoke of fish frying and meat grilling on braziers and the mingled aromas of mint and cilantro, cumin and turmeric, fill the air.


There have always been small modest establishments where travelers and country folk who bring their products to market can find something to eat—soups simmering in large copper pans, fried fish, mountains of couscous, pancakes oozing with honey and melting butter. But it is only in the last decade or two that grand restaurants that serve traditional local foods have opened. Moroccans are not used to eating out. They are used to entertaining at home. The local hospitality is legendary. Even strangers, poor travelers knocking at a door of a home in the medina, will be offered at least soup and a piece of bread.



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