It’s been more than four years since Cleveland’s cleaver-carrying duo, the Lady Butchers, started selling meat at farmers markets under the name Saucisson. They’ve become rather infamous for their carnivorous creations that join farmer, butcher, and customer in novel ways—in part because these delicacies are made from offal. According to Penny Barend, one-half of the Lady Butchers, offal (animal entrails and organs) sometimes garners lackluster reception.
“People remember the terrible liver and onions their grandmother made them,” Penny says, and they are therefore unwilling to return to offal again. Penny and her culinary counterpart, Melissa Khoury, are seeking to dispel any unease associated with offal by utilizing local cuts in inventive combinations.
Over the past couple years, the Lady Butchers have created dozens of offal-inclusive dishes, including beef heart Bolognese; beef heart tacos; head cheese (delightfully rich and made of feet, heads, tongues, and tails); Porchetta di Testa (de-boned, marinated pig’s face braised in a sous vide bag for more than half a day); chicken liver mousse; pork Braunschweiger (spreadable sausage similar to liverwurst), and, most recently, chicken heart terrine.
The terrine is made by grinding up chicken breasts, legs, and thighs, and embellished with herbs and white wine. An equal helping of diced-up chicken hearts lends a rosy hue and enhances an already deep and savory consistency.
The dish, explains Penny, is inspired by French and Italian chefs who make use of what they have, not wanting to waste even the seemingly least desirable cuts of meat. Saucisson shares this goal, trying, as Penny says, to “use every bit of every animal.”
This is important when Saucisson might be offered meat from six local farmers at any given time. They could have turkeys, chicken, or duck from Premium Pastures, lamb from Yellow House Cheese, or beef and pork from New Creation Farm.
The meat doesn’t merely arrive in carefully portioned shipments either. Sometimes dozens of chicken hearts arrive en masse, and the butchers have to be creative as to how they handle the surplus. Instead of wasting them, Saucisson’s proprietors usually elect to combine these “leftovers” with other elements to create something new. This brings them back to the terrine, a fragrant mélange of scent and flavor, and the epitome of resourcefulness.
It’s certainly worth noting that the final product doesn’t appear to be filled with chicken hearts. It looks a bit like a square meatloaf, though smoother and of a slightly ruddier hue. “It’s pretty,” Penny says.
The innocuous appearance is key to the terrine’s charms. Consumers who are guided by a food’s appearance might be encouraged to try it despite not knowing what it is, which breaks down cultural inhibitions of “I shouldn’t eat that,” Penny says.
Melissa and Penny enjoy moving people outside of their comfort zones, nudging them in such a gentle way that they might not realize they’ve been nudged. A customer might be a few bites into the terrine and then ask what’s in it, and, if they’re this far along, they usually stay for the entire meal. With any luck, when they’re finished, their perceptions of what constitutes a “normal” meat might have been swayed a little.
Crafting dishes like the terrine is also an exciting way for the Lady Butchers to showcase zesty incarnations that even their most adventurous clients haven’t yet tried. These folks may have had chicken hearts sliced up and fried with mashed potatoes and peas, but they haven’t yet tried them married to chicken breast and baked.
Saucisson’s philosophy on whole-animal butchery is therefore as straightforward as it is sublime. Nothing should be wasted, everything can be made fresh, and, most importantly, all dishes can—and should—be shared among the community.
Saucisson is open Thursdays–Saturdays, 11am–7pm. The butcher shop is located at 5324 Fleet Avenue in Cleveland. For more information, call 216.303.9067 or visit SaucissonCleveland.com.