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Bailie (far right) teaching her trade

Picking up fish? Whatevs. Buying chicken? NBD. But there’s something about the meat counter that can be intimidating. Especially when the clearly enlightened carnivore next to you is ordering a “four-rib shoulder-in pork loin.”

Local butcher Heather Bailie wants to demystify the process of not just choosing meat but cutting it too. Through her gig at the Fatted Calf Charcuterie, she launched Pig+Woman+Knife, a project that aims to empower us ladies to wield the knife (or cleaver) ourselves.

In her four-hour class ($175), Bailie gives a snout-to-tail tutorial, demonstrating butchery techniques and offering preparation tips. A few meaty pointers she shared with us:

Pepper your butcher with questions Portlandia jokes aside, it’s important to ask where the animal came from, how it was raised and when it arrived (over five days ago is generally not a good answer, unless it's "dry aged"). Make sure the meat is pink and the fat is white, not yellowed. Marbling is also a good sign.

Don’t rush the cut This isn’t a sawing race--use long, smooth strokes with a six-inch boning knife to make clean chops and preserve the meat’s integrity.

Consider the (endless) options A whole pork loin can yield baby back ribs, boneless chops and roasts--and is more economical than buying each cut separately.

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