The Butcher’s Happy Hour

by | May 28, 2012 | Fun Events, Main Dishes, Recipes, Travel

My husband and I met Dave the Butcher at a hog butchery class in Berkeley, and he happened to mention a happy hour that involves pork, held every Wednesday night at The Fatted Calf Charcuterie in San Francisco.

Second take…a “Butcher’s Happy Hour,” featuring a whole hog?? Say what?! My ears perked up, I’m in! Pork has always been my flesh of choice, we grew up on my grandmother’s huge pork butt roasts (it’s really from the shoulder) that melted in your mouth and fed the entire family at our large Sunday lunches. But where do you find a date for a porcine happy hour?? Not the faint of heart…no vegetarians…wait, my sister-in-law Paula, the perfect choice! She raises a pair of organic Berkshire hogs every year for home consumption, and she learned how to slaughter and dress a turkey last year, she would be game for this hoggish adventure!

So we’re off to Hayes Valley in San Francisco, I’ve never been to this neck of the woods in the city, a cool foodie Mecca tucked away just off Market. Outdoor cafes, pubs, coffee shops, ice cream stand, food trucks, and much, much more. I’ll be back to this neighborhood when I have more time, and am not weighed down with a bag full of piggy products.

We were welcomed by butchers Matt and Gus, with half of a hog laid out on the butcher block,

Butcher Matt working away on the hind quarter

and the rest hanging from the rack. Again, this is not an event for everyone!

It’s a very casual affair; there are pork snacks to nosh on, along with complimentary tastes of local brews to wash down the appetizers, my favorite was the Denogginizer from Drakes Brewing.

Where have I been? Who knew there was an urban brewery in San Leandro? Well, my sister Susie did, so much to learn at the Butcher’s Happy Hour!

We met other lovers of the other white meat, Chris and Paul. We shared some freshly marinated cauliflower and pickled beets while talking pig, and Paula and I split a hearty meatloaf sandwich from their deli as we watched the butchers wield the weapons.

Paul, Paula and Chris – look how happy they are at happy hour!

While Matt was taking the half-a-hog down to the cuts we are more familiar with, like pork chops, Gus the butcher was working on the Porchetta (doesn’t that just sound delicious?!), an Italian style marinated rolled pork roast, it was a work of art! 

The roast is about 2 feet long,

and then they cut it to order, so I was able to bring home about an eight inch roast,

along with a bag full o’ goodies. The Fatted Calf also carries a wide variety of local organic products, Paula and I both came home with a small crock of butter from McClelland’s Dairy in Petaluma. We keep our butter soft and out of the fridge, just like Granny did, so the little crock will come in handy, and the butter is delicious.

With the industrialization of meat processing and beef now being sold even at Walmart, over the past 3 to 4 decades came the demise of the local butcher. Fortunately, there seems to be a renaissance in the making with the corner butcher, charcuterie and boucherie.

Behind the scenes at The Fatted

Along with The Fatted Calf Charcuterie, these artisans of meat are popping up across the landscape in the bay area, The Local Butcher Shop in Berkeley, Barons Meats in Alameda, Olivier’s Butcher in San Francisco, el Salchichero Handcrafted Charcuterie in Santa Cruz and Main Street Meat & Fish in Pleasanton. Focusing mainly on local, sustainably raised meats, organics like SunFed Organics (family member Pat Byrne was one of our cookbook recipe testers!),

SunFed Organic New York Strip

and some on the whole animal. There’s even a butcher shop on wheels, Avedano’s Meat Wagon can be found, where else but Hayes Valley, Thursdays through Sundays! So get out and support your local butcher, who supports your local rancher, who supports your local economy and your scenic views! And don’t forget the Happy Hour!


3-5 pound boned pork shoulder roast, fat and skin on

Fresh garlic, pounded with a mortar and pestle

Lemon zest

Salt and pepper

Toasted ground fennel seed

Chopped Rosemary

Lay the roast flat on a cutting board, skin side down. Sprinkle the interior generously with the herbs and spices. Roll up the pork and tie tightly with butcher’s twine. Sprinkle the outside with more fennel seed.

Marinate the porchetta for up to 4 days.

Rub the roast with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt prior to roasting. Cook at 375 to 400 degrees until the outside is browned to a golden hue, then, lower the temperature to 300-325 for 3-4 hours. Let the roast rest for 15 minutes, remove the string and slice into spirals to serve.

We cooked up a batch of homemade applesauce with cinnamon and brown sugar to serve with the porchetta, it’s a must! Along with some red cabbage and roasted potatoes.

~ Yum, Nancy