Meat Processing at ARI: Part 1

ARI Participants watch on as Koide-san, guest lecturer at ARI, is focused on demonstrating the process of making sausages.

This afternoon, the ARI participants gathered in the kitchen for a meat processing class!

Our guest lecturer, Hideo Koide, works with his sister at the hand-made sausage shop Neu Frank in Nasu. He has been coming to teach this class at ARI for ten years. He began today’s lesson by showing a chart of the different cuts of pork. Then he turned to the cutting board, bringing out and naming each slab of meat as he worked. Everyone was watching closely, eyes trained on Koide-sensei’s hands as he turned and trimmed the meat with the sureness of longtime expertise. He showed how to slice off the fat, and participants jostled for a chance to try, nudging each other forward, cheering after each big slice. “Oohs” and “aahs” formed a common language for the group.

Next, it was time to make sausage!

In groups, participants ground pork using hand cranks, diced vegetables, and mixed seasonings. Through it all, Koide-sensei walked calmly, hands clasped behind his back—literally letting the participants be the ones with hands on. Everyone was diligent in cleaning as they went, fluidly trading roles to make for a sustainable learning process.

Each group had the chance to be creative with their blend of spices. One group went heavy on chili powder, tingeing their mixture bright red (chili from the ARI farm has been very popular at mealtimes lately). Mixing by hand, the participants felt and smelled their way through the process.

Others stuck to observing. One participant, Otim, said he wasn’t sure what he wanted to put in the spice mix, as sausage wasn’t so common in his home country Uganda. “Right now I am just taking it all in with my eyes. I want to observe everything. For me I can develop my recipe later, after learning how to do it first.”

When it came time for Koide-sensei to show the final step, all phones came out to film the action, like a concert! The excitement carried on when each group went back to their station to make the sausage into links. Here at ARI, there is space to learn by mistakes—bursting a casing here, overfilling there—and enough raw material available to practice until perfect. By the hour’s end, there were piles of fresh sausage links everywhere!

Everyone left hungry. And looking forward to the next few meals here, that’s for sure.

Over the next few weeks participants will get to make a variety of pork products: bacon, jerky, tea ham, and meat loaf. The printed recipes can be taken home and reused. Who knows where in the world people will be eating ARI-style sausage this time next year?