Welcome to our latest series on the Vale House Kitchen blog! We always love meeting the people who choose to come on our courses, and over the past three years we’ve had some fascinating folks join us who’ve gone on to do brilliant things with the knowledge and skills they acquire. In this post, we talk to Sharon, who joined our pig butchery course.
Sharon Lang moved from London to Exmoor with her husband 14 years ago, looking to escape the noise of the city. The piece of land they bought came with plenty of space and gradually, over time, they built up a smallholding with pigs, lambs and chickens. Although the animals were always raised for food, Sharon says she never had the confidence to get really creative with the produce, until she came along to our Pig Butchery Day with Robin Rea.
Robin spent years as a chef, working with the likes of Michael Caines and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, before setting up his own business, Rusty Pig. Now he teaches our students how to transform the classic pork cuts, making sausages and salamis, and curing bacon and ham. For Sharon, learning these skills from an expert in the friendly setting of a small class made all the difference. We do our very best to make our courses accessible so that anyone can pick up something new, and we’re always delighted when a student like Sharon tells us we’ve hit the nail on the head.
Armed with her new skills, Sharon now makes her own sausages, as well salami, chorizo and parma ham, for friends and family. Not only is it a bit more exciting than simply cooking the joints, but Sharon also says that she now feels able to make the most out of the meat that they raise, something which is hugely important to her – as a meat-eater, she describes a feeling of personal responsibility, and the need to make sure that any meat on her table has been raised with good standards of welfare, slaughtered humanely, and then used well with as little waste as possible. Sharon also speaks passionately about the traditional role of animals in the British landscape, and the need to support small-scale producers and breeders – over the years, they’ve had a number of different rare pig breeds on the smallholding, and are currently raising Gloucester Old Spots.
We know that butchery might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if, like Sharon, you want to gain a greater sense of connection with your food, and learn how to make delicious charcuterie using traditional skills, then this could be the course for you. Click here to find out more about our Butchery Courses and to book your place.