Thursday, September 29, 2011

Screen shot 2011-08-30 at 3.08.15 PM.pngFun While It Lasted


The good news is that the Park Slope shop has opened and it looks great. Smells great too, thanks to the rotisserie chickens in the window. If the rush of early customers is any indication, it's going to be a very popular destination, and deservedly so.

The bad news, at least for me, is that I will no longer be writing for the Butcher's Case. Too many other projects, not enough time, not enough resources, blah-blah-blah. The blog will now move over to the main Fleisher's site and will be presided over by Fleisher's co-owner Jessica Applestone. Have fun with it, Jess!

My thanks to everyone who's been reading over the past month -- it's been a fun little ride.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Screen shot 2011-08-30 at 3.08.15 PM.pngPark Slope Countdown

Click on photo for larger version

The Brooklyn shop is almost ready to go! From left to right, that's butcher Bryan Mayer (who'll be profiled in an upcoming blog post), butcher/manager Jason Fox (who was profiled two weeks ago), and Fleisher's co-owner Joshua Applestone.

We're set to open tomorrow, Wednesday, at 11am. See you there, yes? Yes!


Monday, September 26, 2011

Screen shot 2011-08-30 at 3.08.15 PM.png But Can It Slice and Dice?

Fleisher's co-owner Jessica Applestone has a necklace with an unusual pendant: a miniature meat cleaver. In this video interview, she talks about how she got it, who made it, and the role of cleavers in today's butchery.

I have my own cleaver. It belonged to a longtime friend of my mother's, who was a vegetarian. I like to think that it's happy to be owned by a carnivore now, even though I don't use it that often. I'm not sure what caused all that pitting in the blade, but I like it -- looks extra-rustic, no?

One thing I love meat cleavers, including mine, is that they usually have a hole in the blade. So while all my other kitchen tools hang by their handles, my cleaver hangs by its blade, indicating its special status as a serious implement, not to be trifled with. And as you can see below, the standard cleaver hole is perfect if you happen to be making a necklace pendant.


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Meanwhile, meat-related crime continues to spread. The latest trend: a rash of hog thefts. Can't make it up, people.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Screen shot 2011-08-30 at 3.08.15 PM.pngThe Butchery Archives, Vol. 3


What's better than an old photo of a butcher? An old photo of a butcher in a top hat. Seriously, I'm gonna have to get Josh, Bryan, and the rest of the Fleisher's butchers to dress this way.

The photo, which is circa 1875, is from the International Center for Photography's "America and the Tin Type" collection. Special thanks to Kirsten Hively for bringing it to the Butcher's Case's attention.

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Meanwhile, a few meaty notes to wrap up the week:

• Remember our Protein Police Blotter entry from last week? Reader Cort McMurray informs the Butcher's Case that several Texas men have been charged with stealing 6,000 lambs, valued at $1 million, from a feedlot. Meat crime: Everybody's doing it!

• I didn't think it was possible for me to find Michele Bachmann attractive, but I was wrong. Those shots were taken during a campaign stop she made at a packing house in Iowa. Not bad, Michele, but next time visit a farmer raising pastured beef!

• Remember, Brooklyn Beefsteak this Sunday. See you there.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Screen shot 2011-08-30 at 3.08.15 PM.png Bite-Your-Tongue Tacos

Photo by Jennifer May

We like to use the term "nose-to-tail," meaning we use every part of the animal. But one of the least popular yet most delicious cuts we always want folks to bite is our tongue.

If you can't quite deal with the idea of eating sliced tongue, try this recipe for tongue tacos (which comes from The Butcher's Guide to Well-Raised Meat, by Fleisher's co-owners Joshua and Jessica Applestone and their co-auther Alexandra Zissu). Your dinner guests will rave and you’ll lap up the praise.

For the meat:
1 tongue (about 2½ pounds)
1 tablespoon salt

1. Rinse the tongue under cold water and make sure it is clean. Put the tongue in a large stockpot with enough room so that it doesn't touch the sides. Cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to low to keep a good, solid simmer. Let simmer for 3 hours; the tongue is done when a sharp knife pierces it easily and the outer membrane looks ready to slide off.

2. Remove the tonge from the pot and let cool on a plate for about 15 minutes. It should be cool enough to touch but not so cold that the membrane sticks. Peel off the membrane and remove any rough bits from the underside of the tongue, using a sharp knife if necessary.

3. Put the tongue back in the stockpot, add the salt to the water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover and reduce heat to low to keep at a simmer. Simmer about 1 hour, until the meat is tender and can be pulled apart easily.

For the salsa verde:
1 pound fresh tomatillos (11 or 12), husked
2 to 3 jalapeño peppers, to taste
1 garlic clove, chopped
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ripe avocado, diced
½ cup finely chopped white onion
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. Put the tomatillos, peppers, and garlic in a medium saucepan and add ½ cup of water. Set the pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, until the tomatillos are soft and have lost their vibrant green color, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid, and let the vegetables cool.

2. Transfer the cooled vegetables and liquid to a blender. Add the salt and puree on high speed until smooth. Pour the mixture into a bowl and stir in the avocado, onion, and cilantro. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, then adjust the seasonings if needed.
Add the shredded meat to warm tortilla shells, top with a bit of the salsa verde, and garnish with some thinly sliced radishes. Serves 4 to 6.

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Beefsteak Bargain: Remember Monday's post about the old New York tradition of the beefsteak? The organizers of this Sunday's Brooklyn Beefsteak event are offering a $5-per-ticket discount to readers of the Butcher's Case. Enter the code "SIRLOIN11" when purchasing your tickets.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Screen shot 2011-08-30 at 3.08.15 PM.png Beef, Beer, Fun


What you see above is a classic New York beefsteak. In this context, the term "beefsteak" doesn't refer to the meat itself -- it refers to an event, an all-you-can-eat mass feed centering on meat and beer (as in "Are you attending the beefsteak tonight?" or "Let's throw a beefsteak!").

Beefsteaks became popular in New York in the late 1800s and flourished for several decades after that. Much of what we know about early beefsteaks comes from an article called "All You Can Hold for Five Bucks," written by the great New Yorker essayist Joseph Mitchell in 1939 (you can download the full article here). Beefsteaks were already on the decline by that point, and they'd disappeared from New York altogether by 1970 or so. Meanwhile, however, a parallel beefsteak scene had sprung up in northern New Jersey. Interestingly, the North Jersey folks had no idea that their beefsteak rituals originated in New York, and New York foodies who were lamenting the loss of the beefsteak didn't realize that beefsteaks were still being held just across the river. I wrote about all of this a few years ago in a New York Times article.

That article inspired a pair of young entrepreneurs, Derek Silverman and Andrew Dermont, who set out to revive the old New York tradition. The result is the Brooklyn Beefsteak, a series of events that Derek and Andrew have held at the Bell House in Gowanus, Brooklyn, roughly every six months, complete with all the beef you can eat, all the beer you can drink, a live band, contests, and more. Truly a raucous caucus. (You can see photos from one of last year's beefsteaks here.)

The next installment of the Brooklyn Beefsteak is this Sunday, Sept. 25. There are two seatings -- 1-4pm and 5-8pm. Tickets are available here. If you're serious about meat, it's the place to be this weekend.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Screen shot 2011-08-30 at 3.08.15 PM.png Brooklyn Progress Report


A lot of work still has to take place between now and September 28th, opening day, but you can see all the pieces coming together at the Park Slope location. "It'll be tight, but we'll make it," says Garrett Roche, whose company, Garro Building Works, is the main contractor (that's him on the right with his main design man, Andy Palmer, on the left). Garrett, who grew up in Dublin, comes from a family of butchers, making him the perfect choice for the job.

The shop has that “old-timey butcher” feel already. The walls are covered in classic subway tiles, dark woods line the shelving, and the marble-topped cutting surfaces reflect the gleam from the brand-new tin ceiling.


The cases, which stretch from the very front of the shop to the back, stand empty now, just waiting to be filled with the remarkable cheese selection (curated by Anne Saxelby of Saxelby Cheesemongers), the assortment of deli meats (the Jewish-style salami makes a fantastic Sunday salami and egg scramble), and the wide array of pastured meats and organic chicken.