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For a demonstration tonight at Book Larder , superstar butcher Ryan Farr will break down a lamb provided by neighboring Dot's Delicatessen .

"It's the

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Dot's Deli Unlikely to Serve Buffalo Salami

feral-hog-mud.jpg
For a demonstration tonight at Book Larder, superstar butcher Ryan Farr will break down a lamb provided by neighboring Dot's Delicatessen.

"It's the smallest whole animal you can get, other than a duck," Dot's Miles James says. "It's 67 pounds, and a small pig is 200 pounds."

Farr covers lambs, pigs and cows in his new book, Whole Beast Butchery, but the latest crop of artisan butchers - many of them inspired by Farr, who three years ago opened 4505 Meats in San Francisco - is clawing for bigger challenges. They've expanded their repertoires to include shaggy wild hogs and half-ton herbivores.

"The new cool thing is to get in a whole buffalo," James says.

At the Dai Due Butcher Shop in Austin, Tex., two of the four sausages on Jesse Griffith's permanent menu are made from feral hog meat.

"We have a very distinct emphasis on feral hogs," Griffith says. "They're everywhere. They're on golf courses in Dallas, and they're highly destructive. People hate them. But it's such a valid resource."

According to USDA regulations, pigs must be inspected before and after slaughter, complicating feral hog processing. "You can't shoot and bag them," Griffith explains. Instead, the pigs are trapped in the wild and then killed in a certified facility. Chefs working with feral hogs also have to contend with the lean meat that results from a life spent on the run. Griffith sometimes has to add fat to his sausage mixtures, but says every wild animal presents a unique butchering scenario.

"They're not standardized," Griffith says. "If you can find a 250-pound sow, you can make bacon."

Back at Dot's, James says he isn't looking for a overgrown razorback.

"It's not really my cup of tea," he says. "I don't personally like the super gamy stuff."

James is happy to help a hunting friend break down a deer, but doesn't foresee making space in his Fremont shop for an elk carcass.

"I'm happy with pigs," James says. "They're the most versatile."

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