Fleisher’s Brooklyn Outpost Is Open!

  • October 9, 2011 11:20 am

Another weekend post from Glenny:

This past week Fleisher’s, of Hudson Valley butcher fame, opened their Park Slope outpost!  Bravo Jessica and Josh!  The neighborhood was hungry for well-raised high-quality meat, and I for one will be frequenting the shop.  The space is polished and inviting, bustling with Brooklynites excited about what’s for dinner.  The cases are bright and filled with various cuts of chicken, pork, lamb, and beef.  The smiling employees will be happy to instruct you on any chop, loin, rack or shoulder that is new to you.  And don’t forget to pick up some local cheeses, crackers, and jams to round out your meal.

When I stopped by the shop, I was heading to my family home in the Catskills, so I was interested in buying some lamb for the grill.  I figured it would pair nicely with the eggplant and sunchokes I found at my Greenmarket the morning before.  Besides, it might be getting colder, but I’m reluctant to ditch the grill yet.  Josh suggested the loin and rib chops.  Experiment with seasonings: parsley, garlic, cumin, lemon zest, rosemary, mint, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  On a hot grill, they only need to cook 5 to 6 minutes per side.  They were beautifully pinkish on the inside, full of deep lamb flavor.  I preferred the loin chops, which were a bit meatier and had a stronger, more serious gamy and grassy taste.

Lamb from Fleisher's. Gorgeous, no?

Not much is better than being able to escape the city for a few days, and I must admit, the highlights of the excursion were definitely the meal times.  Even if you don’t have access to a grill, I highly recommend paying Josh, Jess, and their fabulous crew a visit – you’ll leave with a bag full of something delicious (and sustainable) and will definitely learn a thing or two in the meantime.

What You Don’t Know: Fat

  • September 7, 2011 10:32 am

When you’re cooking with meat, do you try to use every last morsel?  If the answer is no, you’ll be surprised by the rewards.  I try to waste nothing, whether I’m cooking with vegetables, fruits, grains, or meat.  I should say especially meat. I never forget that something has died for my dinner. Every last bit of that needs to be used. When I discovered, while reporting The Butcher’s Guide To Well Raised-Meat, how many ways fat could be used, I was delighted to also discover how easy it is to render, store, and eat.  Basically I’m talking about potatoes roasted in bacon fat. If you haven’t tried it, do.

Here’s an excerpt from The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat on many other kinds of fats and how to best use them. Do you use any of these? How? Let me know in comments.

Part of the nose-to-tail butchering is coming up with uses for fat, which makes us roughly 15 percent of an animal’s body weight.  Over the years we have gotten pretty creative – we have made beef tallow citronella candles (short-lived – they smelled like a barbecue gone horribly wrong) as well as lovely smelling tallow-based soaps.  But mostly we just make our fat into chunks of tallow, blocks of lard, and tubs of duck fat for our customers to (hopefully) cook with.  Here’s the skinny on what’s what in the world of fats:

Caul Fat is the fatty lining of a pig’s stomach, which looks like a sheet of diaphanous webbing.  It is used to wrap lean meats while roasting; this technique is called barding, and it imparts moisture into the meat as the fat melts.

Duck Fat Is there anything better than duck fat?  Use it to panfry potatoes, like they do in French bistros, or confit a couple of duck legs.  Duck (and goose, too) fat is great, but often hard to come by.

Lard, or rendered pork fat, is nearly 100 percent fat, as opposed to butter, which is about 80 percent fat and 20 percent water.  Though animal fats have gotten a bad reputation as heart-stoppers and artery-cloggers, lard is still well loved among bakers and intrepid cooks who prize its ability to produce flaky crusts and silky sauces.  Lard has a high smoke point, making it exceptional for frying things like chicken.  It’s also healthier than manufactured hydrogenated  fats like most vegetable shortenings.

Leaf Lard is the dry, hard, crumbly fat cap that surrounds the kidney of the pig.  This fat contains the fewest impurities, making it the gold standard for baking.  Mix this with butter (a 1:1 butter-to-fat ratio is good) for the best pie crusts you have ever made.

Tallow is rendered beef, veal, or lamb fat.  It is used mainly commercially to make animal feed, soap, and cosmetics, or for cooking.  McDonald’s managed to piss off a lot of vegetarians a while back by cooking their fries in tallow without informing the public – no wonder they were so addictive after a long night of drinking.  We use lamb fat in our chicken sausages to get that rich, decadent taste that you just can’t get from plain old chicken.  And we also know hunters who add lamb fat to their venison burgers for a more fatty, luscious taste.

HOW TO RENDER FAT

It’s simple to make high-quality lard or tallow that can be used for baking, cooking, or soap making.  Fats should be stored in the refrigerator, where they will last for three months or can be frozen for a  year.  We like to cut our lard into manageable 1/2-pound chunks and freeze it – it defrosts quickly, and does not have to be defrosted in the refrigerator.

-Buy pork fat, beef suet, or lamb fat from your butcher shop or farmer.  Make sure the fat is fresh, clean smelling, and not slimy.  Whatever you render, count on getting a 75 percent return.

-Cut the fat into 1-inch squares and then finely dice it (we run ours through the meat grinder).

-Place the diced fat into a heavy-bottomed pan set over low heat.  Melt the fat, without stirring, until it is literally a pool of oil.  Alternatively, you can melt the fat in a Crock-Pot.

-Let the fat cool until it is still in liquid form but not hot.

-Strain the fat through a cheesecloth-lined mesh strainer.

The Butcher’s Guide To Well-Raised Meat On Civil Eats

  • August 14, 2011 8:50 pm

Many thanks to Civil Eats and Tri-City Herald for the wonderful mentions of The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat!  Here is an excerpt from the Civil Eats article, but to read the entire posts, click here and here.

“Trials and tribulations aside, this book is mostly a lot of fun. Inquisitive home cooks will love the copious diagrams and charts that dissect all aspects of meat animals and meat cooking. The Applestones make a point of encouraging whole-animal cooking, which means they explain how to cook every cut, especially the lesser-known cuts that require slow, low heat methods.”

What You Don’t Know: How To Store Meat Correctly

  • August 2, 2011 8:19 pm

Meat storage isn’t the sexiest of topics, but it sure is useful. So, you’ve gone to the butcher you trust and bought wonderful well-raised meat.  Now that you’re home, you have the challenge of properly storing your purchases.  Follow these excerpted guidelines from The Butcher’s Guide To Well-Raised Meat and you’ll be golden. One thing not to do? Pick up the phone and tell your butcher something smells funny. They’re pretty amazing people but even they cannot smell through the phone. Some of this information was totally news to me when I started reporting the book. What tricks do you have up your sleeve? For freezer guidelines and more, pick up a copy!

In the Fridge

When you get home from the butcher, loosen the wrapping around the meat, except for chicken, and put it on the plate.  Rotate the meat daily to let air flow around it until you use it.  Larger bone-in pieces can be kept the longest; most processed cuts and grind are good only for a few days.

BEEF

Fresh beef will keep in your fridge for

-2 to 10 days if not vacuum-sealed, depending on the cut.  If it has a coating and smells sour, it’s done.  Discard it.

-2 to 3 weeks if vacuum-sealed.  After that, smell check it.

PORK

Fresh pork will keep in your fridge for

-2 to 7 days if not vacuum-sealed.  The more air you give it, the longer it will last.  If it darkens, that’s okay, but if it’s tacky or slimy, throw it out.

-2 to 3 weeks if vacuum-sealed.  After that, smell check it.

LAMB

Fresh lamb will keep in your fridge for

-5 to 7 days if not vacuum-sealed.  If it gets tacky, has a sour smell, or is otherwise clearly not pleasant, you should not be putting it in your mouth.

-2 to 3 weeks if vacuum-sealed.  After that, smell check it.

POULTRY

Fresh poultry will keep in your fridge for

-4 days if not vacuum-sealed.

-10 days if vacuum-sealed.  Give it a rinse under cold, running water and let it sit on a clean plate uncovered for ten minutes.  (It sounds obvious, but do not use soap on any meat product ever.)  After that, if it smells sulfuric or sour, or if it feels tacky, immediately throw it out and clean the plate and your sink with bleach or vinegar.

Loyal readers will know there is no bleach in my house! I use plant-based dish soap and warm soapy water and sometimes vinegar or hydrogen peroxide.

Recipe: Lamb Meatballs

  • July 10, 2011 10:19 pm

Everyone has things they do and don’t love to eat. So I’m willing to admit lamb doesn’t do it for me. When writing The Butcher’s Guide To Well-Raised Meat, Jessica Applestone raved about her lamb meatballs (lamb really does it for her) so much we decided to include the recipe (below) in the book. I knew I’d never make them myself, but was looking forward to at least trying them at some point. I got the chance a few weeks ago at an event for the book at The Brooklyn Kitchen. You know what? They were as delicious as Jess said they would be and I don’t even like lamb! Here’s how to make them:

Quick Lamb Meatballs

Ingredients
1     pound ground lamb shoulder
2     garlic cloves, minced
2     tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
2     teaspoons harissa (may substitute a mixture of ground cumin, ground chile and smoked paprika)
1     teaspoon kosher salt
1/2   teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Yogurt Sauce (recipe follows)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350. Combine lamb, garlic, cilantro, harissa, salt and pepper. Roll 1-tablespoon balls and place on a baking sheet. Heat ovenproof pan over medium heat. When pan is hot, add meatballs and sear on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes total. Transfer to the oven and cook the meatballs for 4 to 6 minutes, until the insides are pink and the outsides are golden brown. Transfer to a serving dish and drizzle yogurt sauce over the top.

Yogurt Sauce: Stir together 1 cup plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or mint, 1 teaspoon harissa, a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and freshly ground black pepper.

What You Don’t Know: You Can Afford Well-Raised Meat

  • July 6, 2011 10:03 am

One of my absolute favorite things from The Butcher’s Guide To Well-Raised Meat is where we explain how to afford well-raised meat. So many people lament it can’t be done. I disagree. Here’s how I do it, excerpted from the book. Enjoy!

People often complain that grass-fed and organic meat (and everything else organic) is too expensive, that they can’t afford it, that it’s not for them, or that it’s elitist.  We firmly believe that well-raised meat is for everyone.  If you share any of these concerns, first consider the amount of meat you eat- generally Americans buy and eat too much meat.  You don’t need mountains of sausages or pounds of ground beef to make a sauce.  Reduce portion sizes.  It’s better for you, and it will make well-raised meat affordable.  If you would like to try something like filet but can’t get over the sticker shock, buy 1/4 pound of it and don’t make it the centerpiece of your meal.  Beyond eating less and shrinking portion size, you can also lower costs by buying cheaper cuts instead of rib eyes and strips.  And plan for leftovers – a big roast can be dinner tonight and sandwiches tomorrow.  If you buy smart and cook smart, you can make up the price difference between conventional and pastured meat.  When people say our prices are too high, Jess invites them to throw $50 on the counter and watch her work.  She can get them ten meals for half a bill.  When she first made the claim, I must admit even I didn’t believe her.  But she proved me wrong.

TEN MEALS FOR HALF A BILL

Here is Jessica’s list of ten quick, delicious, easy-to-prepare meals for four.  The meat costs only $50 and change.  If you don’t eat meat every day, that means enough meals for two weeks.

1. Ground Beef (1/2 pound) $3

Beef and Bean Enchiladas

2. Bacon (1/4 pound, or about 3 slices) $3

Collard Green and Black-Eyed Pea Soup

3. More Bacon and Eggs (1/4 pound, or about 3 slices, and 3 eggs) $5

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

4. Sausages (3/4 pound, or 3 sausages) $6

Chinese Broccoli with Sausage and Polenta

5. Chicken Thighs (1 pound) $5

Thai Chicken Stir-fry with Vegetables

6. Pork Stew Meat (1 pound) $8

Quick Pork and Chile Stew with Hominy

7. Stir-fry Beef (1/2 pound) $4.50

Stir-fry Beef with Rice Noodles

8. Whole Chicken (3 to 4 pounds) $12

Roast Chicken

9. Eggs $4

Frittata

10. Roast Chicken Bones $0

Chicken Soup


Happy Father’s Day: Make Dad The Perfect Steak

  • June 19, 2011 3:37 pm

This is Fleisher’s perfect steak recipe, directly from The Butcher’s Guide To Well-Raised Meat. Make sure to cook well-raised meat only. You’re welcome!

Unless you pay close attention, grilling is perhaps the quickest way to ruin pastured beef.  It is always leaner than its conventional cousins, requiring a delicate balance of heat and timing, and a lot less latitude as far as cooking times go.  You can’t throw it on the grill and walk away.  Grilling may be sexy, but we beg, we plead, we cajole customers to follow our instructions: pan-sear and finish it in the oven.  Our favorite steak is a dry-aged top sirloin at least 1 1/2 inches think.  With a thinner steak, don’t transfer to the oven.

-Preheat the oven to 300 F

-Bring to room temperature, then salt each side of the steak and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes before cooking.

-Heat an ovenproof pan (French steel or cast iron is preferred) over high heat until it starts to smoke (oil is not necessary, but add a tablespoon of organic canola oil if you like).

-Sear the steak in the hot pan for 2 minutes per side.  (Never use a fork to turn the steak, use your fingers or tongs.)

-Put a splash of olive oil, a pat of butter, a dollop of bone marrow, or a mixture on top of the steak.

-Transfer the pan to the oven.

-Cook for 4 to 8 minutes to desired doneness (it depends on the steak, so go by internal temperature, not time – we recommend 120 F for a perfect medium-rare).

-Take pan out of the oven, place the steak on a cutting board, and let it rest for 5 minutes.

-Slice and serve.

Enjoy!

Advance Praise For The Butcher’s Guide To Well-Raised Meat

  • March 23, 2011 10:22 am

I am beyond thrilled to share these quotes we’ve been getting for The Butcher’s Guide To Well-Raised Meat, due out June 7th.

“Don’t let the ‘butcher’ throw you: the Applestones have written a guide to buying, eating, and preparing well-raised meat for just about everyone out there—the gourmand, the environmentalist, the home cook, the chef. There’s a story and a recipe for anyone who cares what’s on his or her plate. A thoughtful, timely, and important book.”
Dan Barber, chef-owner of Blue Hill

“By learning about meat and where it comes from, we become more competent and responsible cooks and carnivores. In this tribute to farmers and animals, the Applestones and Ms. Zissu have put together a compelling guide to local and sustainable meat and poultry. In an honest, irreverent, and funny primer, we learn which are the best cuts for a given dish, how to cook (and serve) a perfect steak, and what to expect when buying a turkey. This charming and informative reference is sure to influence irreversibly the way we buy, prepare, and appreciate meat.”
James Peterson, author of Meat and Cooking

“If you like eating meat but want to eat ethically, this is the book for you. From the hard-headed, clear-eyed, and sympathetic perspective of butchers who care deeply about the animals whose parts they sell, the customers who buy their meats, and the pleasures of eating, this book has much to teach. It’s an instant classic, making it clear why meat is part of the food revolution. I see it as the new Bible of meat aficionados and worth reading by all food lovers, meat-eating and not.”
Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health, NYU, and author of What to Eat

“I love the way The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat explains the world of meat in straightforward, no-nonsense language by folks who learned from trial and error. It is great to see a perspective from butchers selling meat raised in a non-industrial manner. It is clear that the Applestones are folks who care about how the animals are raised for the meat they sell and are willing to explain why doing so is very important to them. There are hard-to-find recipes for making your own prosciutto, bacon, and bresaola.”
Bruce Aidells, author of The Complete Meat Cookbook