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UMF #12: Underground Meats and Underground Butcher

On Saturday, June 22, UMF started its field trip at Underground Meats production
facility at 931 Main Street. Both Underground Meats and Underground Butcher are part
of a food collective which also includes a catering service and Forequarters Restaurant
on E. Johnson Street. We met Jerry, a mechanical engineer who learned of sausage-
making and now is a member of the collective. He gave us a butcher’s eye view of
salami and salumi (other cured meats). Jerry told us that the pork they use is from
heirloom hogs that are pastured-raised locally on small family farms. They also use local
lamb and goat as well.

Jerry explained the process of making salami from the pork– mixing it with fat, spice
blends, lactose and a nitrite/nitrate blend to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria and
mold. The meat is extruded into casings and painted with an edible mold which further
prevents the growth of unwanted organisms. The mold gives the casings a white
appearance.

Next the sausage is hung in a locker which is controlled for humidity and temperature.
The pH is monitored frequently to assure food safety. The meat is then transferred to
another locker where it is cured. This process can take 4-6 weeks for the salami and up
to 6-9 months for the prosciutto and other cuts.

Underground Meat offers classes on sausage-making, etc. and collaborates with other
aspiring butchers and meat producers. They provide meat to many of Madison’s
restaurants and to their affiliates, Underground Butcher and Forequarters Restaurant.
They are a regular presence at the DOT Farmers Market on Saturday AM’s and venture
down to Chicago to sell their products at a farmer’s markets there.

After sampling some delicious salami and chorizo, we walked to Underground Butcher
at 811 Williamson where we met Michael and Casey who told us about their part of the
collective. Here they offer cuts of locally raised grass-fed beef and other meats. Michael
explained that usually the meat from grass-fed animals looks different with the fat being
more yellow in color. Besides selling the dried and cured meat from Underground Meat,
they also make fresh sausage from rabbit, chicken, pork and beef. Both facilities
welcome special orders and are happy to share information on preparing their delicious
foods.

Underground Butcher also sells cheeses, wines, beer and other gourmet foods and
products. They offer a sandwich menu with a daily special.

We’d like to thank the people of Underground Meats and Underground Butcher for
sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm for their craft and their delicious products. We
enjoyed the tours and the wonderful sausage that we brought home with us! Night Train
Sausage made with smoked beer, anyone?