Getting Back to Nature on Vacation With Butchery and Foraging Classes

Wine flowed as the next two courses arrived: crispy hogweed alongside deep-fried pigeon leg and smoked fallow deer tartare with a speckled quail eggshell housing its sunny yolk. We sang along to Nelly and Travis Tritt while the dishes kept coming: garden fresh gazpacho, cold smoked oysters scented with fresh yarrow and sorrel, rabbit fillets atop a Caesar salad, grilled rabbit haunch stuffed with pancetta-wrapped pigeon breast.

This was no rustic smorgasbord; it was a serious tasting menu that told a story about how the seasonal, local products of this specific place became the elegant plate of food before me.

(Group courses are one day and cost 100 British pounds, or about $120, per person. In addition to the classic course, there are chef collaborator days and special seasonal courses that range from £85 to £180.)

These stateside spots also offer butchery courses:

Chicago Meat Collective’s hands-on hog butchery course involves breaking down animals that are culled from a local farm supporting humane and sustainable farming practices, and then heading home with 10 pounds of cookable cuts and charcuterie ($250 for a three-hour course).

At Chop Shop Butchery in Asheville, N.C., you can butcher a whole hog or lamb, a front quarter of beef and even fish while enjoying local beers and ciders (classes range from $80 to about $150).

Skill-building, multiday courses at Farmstead Meatsmith near Tulsa, Okla., include pork preservation, sausage-making, harvesting innards, confit-making and butchery. The “Family Pig” course will leave you with working knowledge of how to harvest two pigs ($1,390 for the three-day course).

The Meat Hook in Brooklyn, a whole animal butcher that works exclusively with family-run farms in New York State, offers a range of butchery and sausage-making courses (classes are about $100).

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