Welcome to “Kitchen Essentials,” a new series from Chowhound where chefs and bartenders from around the country invite viewers into their kitchens and bars, unveiling the five tools that are simply essential to their work.
For Jered Standing, there’s an art to butchery. The expert Los Angeles-based butcher can easily break down a whole pig with just the flick of his wrist and his trusty boning knife. And sure, it’s certainly a bit of a spectacle to watch, but that’s far from the point at his eponymous shop, Standing’s Butchery. Here, unidentifiable plastic-sealed meat is eschewed for pasture-raised bacon carved into thick slabs, hand-formed burger patties, and house-made sausages, found in a rotating selection of flavors.
“The main principle we hold at my shop is animal welfare above everything else,” Jered explains. “We want [animals] raised on pasture, species-appropriate diet, reducing our carbon footprint, and then also to make sure we’re using everything, because zero waste is very important to us.”
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One way the nose-to-tail butcher shop clings to zero waste is by making sausages. Jered can simply take any leftover pieces of meat—aka, anything that would have been otherwise thrown away—and transform it into links of sausage, one of the shop’s best-selling items.
And while becoming a butcher and working with big cuts of meat is something that’s not often replicated at home, it is feasible for home cooks to mimic some of those actions to improve their carving technique, at the least. All you need is the right collection of tools, and Jered shared the five that are most essential to his work. Armed with a few capable knives, it’s totally possible for you, too, to masquerade as an at-home butcher.
Although it may come as a surprise to some, Jered admits that there’s really only one tool you need to master butchery: a boning knife. And while there are some tools that arguably make things a little quicker, a boning knife is all Jered needs to take down whole pieces of meat. The sexi-flexible knife makes it easier to carve into beef and pork, built with a sharp, curved blade that has a much thinner width than a chef’s knife. Buy Now
While it’s important to cut through meat using a knife, it’s equally important to saw through bone. That’s the main task of the bone saw, a large knife complete with a thick blade that can easily cruise through animal bones.Buy Now
People who roast pigs and compete in barbecue competitions are well-versed in the art of using a utility knife—but it’s not that common of a retail tool. Jered uses a utility knife for scoring pig skin, preferring a utility knife to a traditional one because he’s able to change the height of the blade, guaranteeing he won’t slice too far into the fat. Buy Now
For Jered, the sausage grinder is imperative to Standing’s Butchery. The workhorse of the butchery, the grinder breaks down hunks of meat for everything from sausage to burgers.Buy Now
The sausage stuffer actually allows the Standing’s team to make and save a ton of money. Since the butchery is a nose-to-tail enterprise, nothing goes to waste because everything leftover can be turned into sausage. Jered attaches natural casings onto the hollow tube, and, using the hand crank, he pumps pink sausage into the casings, ties them up, and hangs them to dry in the walk-in fridge. Buy Now
Header image by Chowhound.