On Sunday, November 24, farmer Dean Carlson and Chef Andrew Wood of Russet will host La Tuade, a traditional French celebration of pig slaughter, at Wyebrook Farm, the 355-acre oasis of sustainable agriculture just 45 minutes from downtown Philadelphia and two hours from New York City.
Carlson, a former bond trader turned hands-on farmer, is excited to bring the centuries-old European celebration of the cold-season pig slaughter to his farm. “We aimed to create a place where people could come to reconnect with nature and deeply appreciate the food it provides us,” says Carlson. “We seek a deeper understanding of what’s involved with eating meat and to truly appreciate the sacrifice involved – most importantly, that of the pig.”
The day will begin at 9AM with the reading of Wendell Berry’s poem, “For the Hog Killling.” The team will then kill, bleed, scald and eviscerate one of the pastured hogs. After a break for lunch, the afternoon will be filled with all things charcuterie. Chef Andrew Wood will demonstrate how to make prosciutto from the hams, lomo from the loins, coppa from the shoulder, as well as blood sausage and cotechino sausage.
Lunch Menu: Pig Heart and Lung Soup; grilled fresh Pork Sausages and French Ham; baguettes with homemade mustard, pickles and winter greens; hot chocolate and cookies.
Dinner Menu: Charcuterie and Antipasti; Blood Sausage with caramelized apple, parsnip and Sardinian flat bread; smoked and Braised Pigs Head with shell beans, pickled cabbage, and tomato fondue; Brown Butter Sweet Potato Tortellini in bacon-liver ragu, leeks, and rosemary; Slow Roasted Pork Loin and Cotechino with creamy polenta, smoked onion agrodolce, and twice cooked sunchokes; Dessert Course (who cares!)
About Wyebrook Farm
Dean Carlson’s vision for the Farm Market, housed in a historic 18th-century barn, allows visitors to peruse the bounty of the farm in an atmosphere that captures the charm of a time past. He lovingly restored the barn responsibly and sustainably, leaving many of the original features intact, such as the existing stone walls and distressed wooden floors. Some barn materials have been reclaimed and incorporated into the new design, particularly its timber beams that were refashioned into handsome 12-foot-long tables that will be used for displaying a variety of vegetables and artisan cheese sourced from neighboring farms in the community, as well as hosting intimate chef’s tasting dinners.
The Farm Market also features a butcher shop, a seamless addition built into the barn’s antique structure that was erected from reclaimed wood. The open design of the shop allows guests to watch Wyebrook butchers prepare the various cuts of meat that will be promptly packaged and sold from its stainless steel temperature-controlled cases. Perhaps the most striking addition to the building will be the broad glass wall that provides panoramic views of Wyebrook’s pastures.
“Our humanely raised, antibiotic-free animals enjoy life here, and we want our guests to visit and learn more about the origin of their food before they take it home,” says Carlson who raises some of the finest heritage breeds of animals including Devon cattle and purebred Ossabaw pigs. “There’s no better way to do that than allowing people to see it all for themselves. I believe that having a personal connection with our food helps us to make better choices, both for our health and for the well-being of the planet.”
The products available at the Farm Market are determined by the natural, seasonal constraints of traditional farming, and offerings change based on availability. Featured selections may include farm-fresh eggs and a wide variety of meats, ranging from T-Bone Steak, Pork Tenderloin and Chicken Breast to specialty cuts such as Oxtail, Pig’s Ear and Chicken Liver. A full list of products are available at www.wyebrookfarm.com.
The lower level of the barn features a multi-purpose, state-of-the-art chef’s kitchen where the area’s top chefs gather ingredients from the Farm Market and test their favorite recipes. Carlson also offers tasting dinners several times a year. The chef’s kitchen also functions as a small, quick-serve operation, selling artisanal fare from one of the barn windows. Guests can enjoy light fare as they meander through the farm’s picturesque grounds or relax at a table in the adjacent paved courtyard, which boasts sweeping views of the peaceful, bucolic landscape.
Since Carlson purchased the farm in March 2010, he has been working on extensive renovations to the property’s stone houses and barns. He has also initiated several eco-conscious improvements to the buildings and farm equipment, including over 50Kw of solar panels that provide much of the farm’s electricity; the conversion of cooking oil into biodiesel to power the tractors and other vehicles; and a rainwater capture system that feeds a pond, which provides irrigation for the apple orchard and other landscaping.
Today, the formerly foreclosed land is a vibrant example of how grassroots agriculture can re-energize a community and lead the way for residents and visitors alike to make healthier choices in their diets.