The slaughterhouse processes 2,500 animals per week.
The slaughterhouse processes 2,500 animals per week. Credit: Eileen Meslar

Here’s another sign that poet Carl Sandburg’s ode to Chicago as “Hog Butcher for the World” is hopelessly out of date: Barkaat Foods, which owns the city’s last remaining slaughterhouse, doesn’t butcher hogs. That’s because swine’s not halal, and Barkaat caters to the Islamic market. The slaughterhouse, in the back of an unassuming brick building on a stretch of South Halsted near West 38th, is indistinguishable from its neighbors except for its distinctive gamy smell. It specializes in veal, lamb, and goat. Just like in the old days, the animals come from farms across the midwest, only now they’re delivered by trucks instead of rail cars. And now they’re slaughtered by hand and hung on hooks so all the blood can drain. (Animal blood is definitely not halal.) The facility processes 2,500 animals per week. USDA inspectors are on hand daily. And it takes four hours to clean up the blood after every kill.

The slaughterhouse originally belonged to Chiappetti LLC, which arrived on Halsted in 1943. Barkaat took over in 2009 when the Chiappetti family, wary of Bridgeport’s gentrification and its influx of condos and coffeehouses, decided to sell. Now they rent cooler space from Barkaat. The lamb and veal are distributed by Strauss Brands Inc. out of Franklin, Wisconsin; you can buy it at Jewel, Angelo Caputo’s, and Sunset Foods. If you want goat, though, you’ll have to go directly to the source.