Beltex Whole-Hog Butchery Class

Grilling season is upon us. Depending on who you are, it might always be grilling season. Most of us run down to the local grocery store and pick up whatever favorite cut of beef or pork we are hankering for. And it’s easy to do. Want a ribeye or a New York strip? Easy. Every grocery store is stocked. Need a decent-sized pork shoulder for that pulled pork or cochinita pibil you are making? Bam, done. But do you know where that meat came from? Do you know what part of the animal that was cut from? Well, the team over at Beltex Meats wants to teach you.

Philip Grubisa, owner and lead butcher at Beltex Meats, created thier Whole Hog Butchery class to educate those interested in both new and old world butchery techniques. But it’s not just about learning how to butcher your own meat; it’s really about informing where the product comes from and how to use the entire animal.  And at Beltex, they use the whole animal. From bacon to Head Cheese to bone broth, nose to tail is no exaggeration. 

Grubisa didn’t start out as a butcher, he worked with Chef Mark Sullivan at Spruce, was Executive Chef at The Farm, worked with Briar Handley at Talisker on Main, and staged at The Fatted Calf to learn his craft. When he opened Beltex, it was, and still is, a passion project. He wanted to use all parts of the animal and share that passion with his community.

Photo credit Cali Warner

The Class

Ten of us showed up, a little apprehensive and wondering what we got ourselves into, but eager to learn nonetheless.

There were two tables set up. One held a 200-plus-pound hog carcass, the other, all the lovely products that pork would become in the form of a beautiful charcuterie board. 

We were invited to sign a waiver, assuming we would participate in the butchery that evening, and given free rein of the shop. Those of us in attendance that night were not necessarily chefs, but curious cooks and/or food writers, looking to learn exactly where our meat comes from. Most of us were semi-regulars in the shop. I regularly stop in on Saturdays for their Cubano sandwich, the Carolina pulled pork, or some fantastic sausage. 

Philip spent the first hour or so discussing the commercial butchery process versus local small shop processes. Discussing where they get their pork, whom they partner with, and why they work the way they do, all while standing over that hog carcass. They’ve partnered with a handful of local farmers and ranchers over the years and are very selective of the product they bring in. 

He then did the major breakdown of the pig so it was in manageable pieces for the rest of us. And with the help of two other butchers, we got to dig in. I’m sure the bulk of what we butchered, in every sense of the word, that night ended up as sausage. My biggest takeaway from the evening? You kind of need to be in shape to be a decent butcher. I spent a good 20 minutes just taking the skin off the shoulder, and by the time I was finished, my hands were on fire from the constant tension. We did get some solid instruction on butchery. 

Once the entire pig was cut up into various cuts, we saw the rest of the shop, including the small sausage ‘cave’ in the basement. And we each took home a portion of what we did butcher that evening and a few bonuses. 

The class was fun, informative, and physically demanding. Beltex does not have any classes scheduled currently but check their website; they schedule the classes regularly. It is a fantastic experience, one you should all check out. 

If you can’t make it to one of the classes. You need to check out all the great products these folks churn out. For such a small operation, they do crank out some killer products.

Beltex Meats

511 900 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84105
Phone:(801) 532-2641

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Greg Brinkman
Greg Brinkman
Greg Brinkman is a freelance food, travel, and culture writer. He has written for Salt Lake Magazine and Suitcase Foodist. He is a professional dabbler and is obsessed with all things food, travel, style and fitness.

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