Discover the Best Butchery Classes in Chicago
Butchery is one of the oldest trades that people still enjoy today. A detail-oriented craft that has been refined over thousands of years, butchery is the art of selecting, slaughtering, deboning, cutting, and preparing meat. It relies on a combination of finely-honed skills and high-quality tools and emphasizes getting the best cuts from the finest meats, a practice that stands in stark opposition to the mass-produced industrial meat products of modern society.
Butchery dates back over 400,000 years with the earliest documented site in Kent, England. A craft focused on harvesting the best cuts with the least amount of waste possible, butchery is now even considered an art form. Independent butcher shops have seen a rise in popularity as society becomes more intentional about what they consume and how they source it.
Becoming an expert butcher can improve the experience of your homemade meals and help support sustainable farming. A butchery course can teach you to create truly memorable farm-to-table food experiences, for both loved ones and customers. Whether you’re exploring butchery as a new hobby or profession, there’s much to be gained from practicing this ancient and intentional set of skills.
Why You Should Learn Butchery in Chicago
Chicago has a long history with the meat industry. Once known as the “Hog Butcher to the World,” the Union Stock Yard of Chicago employed everyone from cowboys to herd livestock to brokers and butchers. The meatpacking industry was the heart of the city for many years, creating a thriving community of highly skilled butchers. While a much smaller industry now, butchery is still an honored practice, with shops like Gepperth’s Meat Market, which is family-owned and opened in 1906, still open today.
Learning to properly butcher is ideal for those who value environmentalism as you can locally and sustainably source meat and minimize waste by ensuring every usable part of the animal is properly harvested. You can develop a deeper connection to your food and the environment, ensuring your dishes are healthy, wholesome, and earth-friendly.
Becoming an expert butcher can also create cost savings. Purchasing large portions of meat directly from a local farm and butchering the prime cuts yourself lets you stock up on meat for one or more seasons. Cutting out the middleman by handling the processing and packaging on your own can help limit your financial waste, as well.
A particularly niche industry, learning butchery can also expand your community and help you make new friends. Local butcher shops are often central to their communities with expert butchers forming bonds based on trust and respect with their neighbors and local businesses.
This, of course, also makes it a great potential career path, especially with the cultural shift away from factory farming towards less harmful, more sustainable ways to source food. A quality butcher shop can be an essential business in any community, connecting ranchers to customers, and making farm-to-table practices more accessible.
In-Person Butchery Classes & Schools in Chicago
The Chopping Block Lincoln Square offers a wide variety of butchery and meat-related courses. Known as Chicago’s premier recreational cooking school and gourmet retail store, their demo-based and hands-on classes are a great way to establish your foundational butchery skills. Meat Butchery will help you take your knife skills to the next level by teaching you essential butchery techniques. Once you’ve mastered the knife skills, you’ll prepare three separate dishes of fish, chicken, and pork tenderloin, to put those newly mastered techniques into action.
Butchery Bootcamp teaches students to debone and break down a whole chicken, bone, and filet a whole fish, and how to prepare both flank steak and pork tenderloin. You’ll then cook four different recipes so you can see (and taste) how important your butchery skills were to the final delicious products. The Chopping Block Lincoln Square has even more classes, like Everyday Butchery and Meat Cookery Bootcamp, Whole Hog Butchery, and Hands-On Culinary Concepts: Fish Butchery and Cookery, so you’ll have several great options for learning the basics.
Red Meat Market in the Fulton River District hosts Hands-On Whole Hog Breakdown. Suitable for all levels, this class offers students the opportunity to learn the art of butchery from master butchers. You’ll begin with how to break down a carcass and then learn how to cook local fresh meats with Red Meat Market’s chefs. This class combines knife skills with delicious tastings cooked, and each student can take home 4-5 pounds of their own fresh cuts.
Virtual Butchery Classes & Schools
Online butchery classes are a great alternative to in-person offerings. The flexibility to attend from wherever you want is an obvious perk and, with on-demand classes, you can choose when you attend as well. Learning from the comfort of your own home in your favorite pajamas can make the experience even more enjoyable. There’s also no need to sit in traffic or struggle to find parking. While you generally are required to source your supplies and tools, online butchery classes still have the benefit of an expert instructor and the hands-on experience that in-person classes offer.
Virtual Building Blocks: Chicken Butchery and Cookery is an informative online class offered by The Chopping Block Lincoln Square. Held via Zoom, this two-hour class teaches students how to select quality poultry and properly butcher and prepare a chicken. It will also cover several different cooking techniques like braising, roasting, and sauteing. Students will be provided with a recipe packet, equipment list, and class syllabus upon registering.
Similarly, The Chopping Block Lincoln Square also hosts Virtual Building Blocks: Fish Butchery and Cookery. Designed for lovers of aquatic culinary delights, this class will cover selecting fish, identifying flat and round fish, techniques for breaking down a whole fish, and various cooking methods. Also hosted via Zoom, a moderator will make sure that all your questions are answered by the chef either during or after class.
Private Group Butchery Classes in Chicago
Are you looking to provide a one-of-a-kind event for your team? CourseHorse also coordinates private group butchery classes that can be customized to fit the needs of your business or organization.
While there aren’t currently any private group butchery classes available, there is a virtual steak workshop where students will select their cuts of meat (with guidance on how to select the best cuts from the instructor) and prepare and cook a delicious meal. Topics covered include the best cooking techniques and temperatures to ensure you get a mouth-watering final product every time.
If you have your heart set on a butchery-only private class, it can still be provided! You can reach out through the contact form on the CourseHorse site to learn about the available options. With no booking fees, confirmation within 24 hours, and the ability to adjust your group size within 72 hours of your scheduled class, CourseHorse makes scheduling a breeze. Plus, with extra benefits like multiple supported platforms and having your supplies shipped directly to your group, organizing a private group class has never been easier.