News and Updates
How Chef Larissa Popa Is Teaching Detroiters About Whole Animal Butchery
The Meatstress breaks down a Mangalitsa pig at Eastern Market
by Brenna Houck
Appeared in Detroit Eater on 5/19/16
It's Monday morning in Eastern Market's Shed 5 and the kitchen is filled with men and women crowded around a rolling metal table. At the center chef and butcher Larissa Popa stands over a side of Mangalitsa pork — a three-year-old female heritage breed from a farm in Belleville, Michigan. Popa prepares to make her first incision to remove the leaf lard with a sharp, curved knife held in "butcher's grip." People in the room lean in closer to observe each controlled cut and slice as she deconstructs the chilled, marbled pork.
The event is part a whole-animal butchery and charcuterie series Popa launched earlier this year under the title The Meatstress. For a fee, chefs and home cooks can participate in the program, which teaches students the basics of butchery, home curing, and sausage making. It's one of — if not — the first of it's kind in the Detroit area and part of a growing collection of programs around the country devoted to teaching people about ethical meat and meat processing. The first part of the class is mainly observation watching Popa make the cuts, but she eventually hands off the knife to give students more first-hand experience.