Main

April 2, 2012

Self-Promotion: How To Knead, Top and Toss it

_MG_6324 - Version 2

The How to... series presented by Edible Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Brewery has returned this year and I've been out shooting it. Back in February, "How to Slice it" brought meat mavens together to learn the best way to make sausage, truss a roast and debone a chicken. More recently, the theme was pizza and it packed the house. Check out a couple highlights after the jump and see a slideshow and details on the speakers on the Edible Brooklyn recap.

Continue reading "Self-Promotion: How To Knead, Top and Toss it" »

January 2, 2012

Introducing Food/Work


Food/Work - Images by clay williams

Happy New Year, folks. 2011 was packed with experiences and opportunities that I hope to build on for years to come. To begin, I'm launching a new photo project that I'm very excited about, called Food/Work.

Expanding on the Butchery project of the last few years and the kitchen shoots I've done in the last several months, Food/Work explores the real effort that gets food on our tables. Following the examples of Michael Harlan Turkell's Back of House series and my friend Donny's Foodaisance project, I want to call attention to the work that goes into cooking, preparing, cutting, cultivating and even killing the food that so many of us enjoy and obsess over.

Although the project will not be limited to Brooklyn, starting Wednesday, I'll be posting some photos on Nona Brooklyn every other week. The first post went up last month with photos of Emily Cavalier cooking dishes for November's Midnight Brunch supper club.

So, stay tuned. The slideshow above is just a preview of what's to come.

December 14, 2011

Food/Work: Ryan Farr at the Astor Center

_MG_3547 - Version 2

Ryan Farr is no stranger to the blog. I met the San Francisco butcher and chef at last year's Cochon 555, where, among other things, he deboned a pig's head and stuffed it with shoulder meat. Then, on a trip to SF, I managed to catch up with him briefly at his stand at the Ferry Building. One day, I hope to photograph him at work either in his cooking space or in one of the hands-on butchering classes he offers at 4505 Meats.

Last week, he was in New York promoting his new book, Whole Beast Butchery, I caught up with him at a butchering demo he did at the Astor Center, where he took apart a whole lamb. Check out some of the photos from the evening after the jump.

Continue reading "Food/Work: Ryan Farr at the Astor Center" »

October 26, 2011

Butchery: Fleisher's Brooklyn is open for business

_MG_5181

Fleisher's, the butchering mecca that inspired so much of the whole animal cooking that we've seen in the last few years has come to Brooklyn. The new shop is located in Park Slope on 5th Avenue off Sackett. I've been a big fan of theirs since I photographed their Pig to Pork event last year.

The grand opening of the new shop was last week and co-owner Jessica Applestone asked me to photograph the big day. Borough President and Brooklyn cheerleader Marty Markowitz was on hand to celebrate the big day.

April 25, 2011

Hong Kong: Gage Street

_MG_9853 - Version 2

Walking through Central Hong Kong, it was easy to forget that I was 8,000 miles from home. There were skyscrapers and office buildings this way, hi-rise condos that way, Westerners abounded and English was everywhere. Central certainly didn't have any of the challenges of Saigon or even Tokyo in navigation or communication. I enjoyed exploring the area a lot, but it almost felt like cheating.

Then we took a turn off from under the Mid-Level escalators and found ourselves on Gage Street and found ourselves somewhere else, entirely.


Continue reading "Hong Kong: Gage Street" »

December 29, 2010

In the Kitchen: The best way to render lard at home

_MG_1180 - Version 2

The star of my Christmas haul this year has to be the meat grinder Tammi bought for me. After I read about the Alfa MC5 on Michael Ruhlman's holiday gift guide, it immediately made it to the top of my wishlist.

Once I opened it up, my first task was clear: grinding up some fatback to render lard. See the hows and wherefores after the jump.

Continue reading "In the Kitchen: The best way to render lard at home" »

November 28, 2010

Analog Montreal: Charcuterie Hongroise

10A_0852

If you've been following Analog UltraClay, you may have already seen some of the recent photos I posted from Charcuterie Hongroise. While walking up St Laurent toward Schwartz's on my last day in Montreal, I passed a few old school butcher shops that caught my attention.

It was the sausages hanging in the window that drew me in to boucherie hongroise. Montreal still has some of the old European style butcher shops that are quickly disappearing in New York.

See inside after the jump.


Continue reading "Analog Montreal: Charcuterie Hongroise" »

September 7, 2010

Self-Promotion: Butchery in AM New York

_MG_0542 1

Butchery Alert: This morning AM New York, one of the local free dailies bought one of my photos from this spring's From Pig to Pork event at Fleisher's. The story is a travel feature on trips to "sharpen your chef skills."

Thanks to Jessica Applestone for putting me in touch with the piece's writer, Kristen Brown.

You can download the pdf of the issue or just grab a copy this morning if you're in town.

July 16, 2010

SF: Boccalone's Nduja

_MG_0317 - Version 2

While in San Francisco, I always try to swing by Boccalone in the Ferry Building. A couple years back, Chris Cosentino, the offal-loving chef of Incanto, opened up this Italian charcuterie shop selling all sorts of interesting salumi including 'fennel-orange' and this, nduja.

Pronounced, end-oo-ya, this spicy sausage evoked a bit of mystery last year when the NY Times wrote up a piece about it calling it "The Lady Gaga of pork products." So, yeah, that's a little stupid, but I had to taste it anyway.

Take a look under the wraps after the jump.

Continue reading "SF: Boccalone's Nduja" »

July 15, 2010

SF: 4505 Meats

_MG_0210 - Version 2

Unfortunately, I didn't end up finding time during my trip to San Francisco to do a butchery shoot with Ryan Farr as I'd hoped to do after meeting him at Cochon 555 in the spring. I did manage to catch up with him briefly at his stand at the Thursday Farmers Market at the Ferry Building.

I spoke to him for a bit while he was setting up and he gave me a quick taste of the day's special. It was all i could do to walk around and wait for them to start serving to get a full serving for myself.

Check it out after the jump.

Continue reading "SF: 4505 Meats" »

June 30, 2010

Butchery: Japanese Premium Beef

_MG_0517 - Version 2

About a year ago, a new Japanese Butcher shop opened up in NoHo. They specialize in Washugyu, Wagyu-hybrid beef that is raised in the Pacific Northwest to be deeply marbled like the beef from Kobe, Japan.

I stopped in once to get a couple photos, but haven't had a chance to get back to take a better look at their goods either photographically or to take home and cook.

_MG_0501 - Version 2

Most of the write ups about the place point out that it looks more like one of the area boutiques than any butcher shop. It's true and that's at least in part due to the fact that most of the meat is cut at their supplier, not on site.

I suppose that makes this shop more of a reseller than an actual butcher shop, and therefore not the same as my other butchery subjects. But, given how interesting and delicious the marbled beef I had in Japan was, I'll let it slide. Meat like that just needs a quick sear and it's ready to eat. If that. When we were in Tokyo I had some thinly sliced beef at a Yakiniku restaurant in Ginza that was so rich and wonderfully marbled, they encouraged us to eat it raw.

I probably wouldn't go that far if I were cooking it at home, but one of those steaks would be marvelous thrown on the grill for just long enough to get a good char.

_MG_0510 - Version 2

May 16, 2010

Pig to Pork: Hair Removal

_MG_0431 - Version 2

As part of my butchery project, I attended "From Pig to Pork" hosted by Fleisher's. There we witnessed the transition from animal to meat and the prep that takes it from the farm to our table. I'll be posting with observations about experience both at the farm and in the shop. Just a heads up, some of the photos are pretty graphic. The point here is to appreciate the value of the process through potentially challenging images, not to gross anyone out, so feel free to skip this post if it's not your thing.

So, the first thing to know is that all pigs are not pink and hairless like what you've seen on TV. Heritage breeds in particular often have hair, which makes sense since the idea is that they haven't been cross-bred for convenience. The pig slaughtered at the event had red, spotted hair.

One of the reasons we've come to expect pale, pink hairless pigs is because the factory farms have engineered breeds to reduce the effort needed to process their animals. They're inbred and have to live in clean rooms because of how susceptible they are to disease, but once they're dead they don't need a haircut.

That's not to belittle the effort that goes into the process. It's not so pretty. More on that after the jump.

Continue reading "Pig to Pork: Hair Removal" »

May 11, 2010

Butchery: Tools of the Trade

Fleisher's: The Tools of the Trade

_MG_1771 - Version 2

Whenever I'm behind the counter shooting for my butchery series, I'm always fascinated with the various tools on hand. Visually, they're so interesting and they're used for tasks I'd never imagined about.

After the jump a primer on the some of the tools, widgets and gadgets that I found while up at Fleisher's for From Pig to Pork.

Continue reading "Butchery: Tools of the Trade" »

May 10, 2010

Butchery: The Offal Cook

_MG_1895 - Version 2

This is Chichi aka The Offal Cook. She blogs for herself and Serious Eats about cooking with all those wonderful bits of animals that get tossed aside and forgotten.

Much like I've taken my meat and photography interests to this butchery project, Chichi has followed her lifelong fascination with off-cuts to a similar end.

She has been writing a series called The Butcher's Cuts about traveling up to Kingston to learn about butchering at Fleisher's.

Given the similarities in our projects, It's really awesome to see where she's gone with it. Her posts have chronicled the lessons she's learned from her time butchering. She's also managed to come away with some awesome recipes for working with these cuts. I was especially excites to see what she did with a pig's head, resulting in both a terrine of head cheese and a batch of ramen stock. And because some things still shock me a little, I was fascinated with her account of (and recipe for) cooking scrambled brains.

If my posts on meat and butchery have been at all interesting, I'd definitely recommend taking a look at Chichi's column. Enjoy!


May 9, 2010

Pig to Pork: Pork Blood

_MG_0293 - Version 3

As part of my butchery project, I attended "From Pig to Pork" hosted by Fleisher's. There we witnessed the transition from animal to meat and the prep that takes it from the farm to our table. I'll be posting with observations about experience both at the farm and in the shop. Just a heads up, some of the photos are pretty graphic. The point here is to appreciate the value of the process through potentially challenging images, not to gross anyone out, so feel free to skip this post if it's not your thing.

After an animal is killed, its blood must be drained out quickly so it doesn't clot and get in the way of the meat. Pork blood is often used for making blood sausage, so it doesn't just get thrown away.

The roughly two quarts of blood that came out of the pig slaughtered for the pig to pork class at Fleisher's was drained into this bowl. They stirred it constantly with sea salt in order to keep it from coagulating.

Regardless of your taste for such things, one must recognize how efficient it is to utilize as much of the animal as possible.

May 6, 2010

From Pig to Pork: The Slaughter

_MG_0352 - Version 2

As part of my butchery project, I attended "From Pig to Pork" hosted by Fleisher's. There we witnessed the transition from animal to meat and the prep that takes it from the farm to our table. I'll be posting with observations about experience both at the farm and in the shop. Just a heads up, some of the photos are pretty graphic. The point here is to appreciate the value of the process through potentially challenging images, not to gross anyone out, so feel free to skip this post if it's not your thing.


I've been putting off posting about the actual slaughter part of From Pig to Pork for a little while now. Not because it was life-changing or traumatic or anything. It was actually quite fast. Hans, a retired Master Butcher from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) walked into the small horse trailer that the pig had spent the night and shot it.

We didn't see the pig before that. Most likely for both our benefit and the pig's, Hans left the door to the pig's compartment closed when killing it. He was concerned about people freaking out about the whole thing and decided to deal with that part of it behind closed door.

Similarly, I'll leave the details of the deed for after the jump.

Continue reading "From Pig to Pork: The Slaughter" »

May 4, 2010

Butchery: Pure Ground Awesome!

_MG_1072 - Version 2

Sadly, I didn't end up buying this when I was at Fleisher's for the Pig to Pork trip, but a burger made of ground beef with ground bacon mixed in is something I have to try. Seriously.

May 3, 2010

Butchery: From Pig to Pork

_MG_0114 - Version 2

Last weekend's trip to Fleisher's in Kingston, NY was instigated by an event they were having called "From Pig to Pork." The premise of the class being to take 'civilians' a step beyond the butchering classes. We went out to a farm in Stone Ridge, about half an hour away from the shop to see the actual slaughter of a pig and the subsequent prep work that is done before it's sent to a butcher.

In other hands, a grisly scene like this could be tastelessly sensationalized, but led off with an introduction by Jessica Applestone, Fleisher's owner and wife of "Moo-ru" Josh Applestone, the event was soberly presented. The point of the exercise is to further bring home the point that our food comes from animals not boxes, they were alive and were killed to feed us. Given that, it's imperative to utilize as much of them as we can, not pick out a few choice lean cuts and let the rest rot.

I've got more than a few observations and photos that I'll be posting over the next couple weeks under the header: From Pig to Pork. The photos may be a bit macabre here and there, but I'll do my best to keep those after the jump, so as to avoid freaking anyone out.

In the meantime, if you'd like to see the photos from without all my insightful commentary, they are posted in a set on Flickr.

April 28, 2010

Butchery: A Weekend at Fleisher's

_MG_0694 - Version 2

The weekend up in Kingston was intense and very gratifying. It took me further into this butchery project than I've been so far and I have more than a few observations and photos I want to post... but not this moment. Expect more photos and posts in the next week.

In the meantime, photos from my first day in the shop are in a set on Flickr.

April 23, 2010

Butchery Weekend: Going to the source

_8A_0011

After much scheduling difficulties, I'm finally taking the trip up to Fleisher's in Kingston, NY this weekend. Sunday, they are hosting a full day butchery class that I'm going to photograph. The event will go from slaughter to sausage and everything in between.

It should be an interesting experience and will give me whole lot more material to shoot.

April 18, 2010

Butchery: In the Cabrito Kitchen

_MG_9730 - Version 2

Last week, I took my butchery project out of the shop into a restaurant kitchen. I went to Cabrito, one of my favorite spots for Mexican in town. After months of email tag with the Chef, David Schuttenberg, we finally nailed down a time for me to come in to photograph him as he took apart a pair of young goats for the week's supply of the restaurant's signature dish.

_MG_9638 - Version 2

It was all very interesting for a few reasons. First off, goats are fairly different from most other animals I've seen taken apart before. David said they are more like rabbits than anything else. They're lean and lithe with fewer 'cuts' as such on them. That's particularly true of the young ones like they get at Cabrito and that they're carrying at Dicksons.

I was shocked at how quick the whole process was. That's in part because he wasn't cutting up chops or roasts like one would for a pig or a cow, but also because the goat just doesn't have nearly as much meat to it.

more photos and prep after the jump...

Continue reading "Butchery: In the Cabrito Kitchen" »

April 7, 2010

Cooking: Easter Bunny

_MG_0052 - Version 2

This weekend, I took my own twisted turn at Easter dinner. Heathen that I am, I wouldn't have known when Easter even was if not for the Lenten lunch I had a couple weeks ago.

A recent article in The Times about rabbit as an upcoming food trend inspired me to finally seek out a rabbit to play with in the kitchen.

I've only cooked rabbit once, years ago, on a trip to Paris with Tammi. I found a whole rabbit shrink-wrapped in a market near our apartment in the Marais. I've wanted to do it again ever since, but prices and availability make rabbit more difficult to cook often.

I'm fond of rabbit, but the price point isn't really a good one for experimentation. This D'artagnan rabbit, purchased at The Meat Hook, cost about $30 at $10 a pound. Not cheap for something about the size of a chicken.

Follow the jump for the before pic and a blow by blow on how I cooked it.

Continue reading "Cooking: Easter Bunny" »

March 30, 2010

Butchery: More Dickson's Farmstand

_MG_8713 - Version 2

I've been showing my butchery work in a class I'm taking at ICP and got a bunch of feedback. Taking the feedback I've gotten from my classmates into account, I went back for another shoot at Dickson's Farmstand.

Mostly, I photographed the inside of the walk-in meat locker, where I could play with the flash without blinding anyone wielding a knife.

_MG_8851 - Version 2

While in there, I got a chance to get a closer look at their new addition, whole, young goats. They hung up in the back, looking a little creepy, but also delicious. Seeing them split up, I'm reminded of the large standing grills we saw in Argentina. Slow grilled like than and served with some chimichurri, I'm sure would be fantastic.

_MG_9246 - Version 2

It wasn't all just meat porn, though. I spent a few minutes taking some photos of Jake Dickson, the shop's owner and Adam, while he worked on a beef forequarter. Gotta love the action shots.

_MG_9268 - Version 2

_MG_9152 - Version 2

March 23, 2010

Butchery: Ryan Farr at Cochon 555

Ryan Farr at Cochon 555 NYC

Friday night I got an email from FoodBuzz telling me that I'd won a pair of tickets to Cochon 555, two days away. I was elated. At the event, chefs from some of the best restaurants in town had their way with five 125 pound pigs and handed out the results to attendees.

Yet, I only ate a couple small plates. Why? Because I'm a meat nerd and butchery awaited. Instead of grazing all evening, I spent a couple hours in the corner watching Ryan Farr, San Francisco's butcher king take apart a whole pig of his own.

Farr went muscle by muscle to show us cuts and techniques that I can't wait to try at home.

Ryan Farr at Cochon 555 NYC

He frenched a loin rack like one would a lamb roast. I think I'd have to see that several more times to even contemplate doing something like that.

Ryan Farr at Cochon 555 NYC

Really though, the coolest part was what Farr did with the head. He deboned it, removing the skull, then he stuffed the face with shoulder meat. After that, he sewed it all up with butchers' twine and a needle. See the slideshow after the jump for a blow by blow.

Ryan Farr at Cochon 555 NYC

I think I've found my next butchering challenge. Seriously, I've been all about cheeks and such for ages, it's time to graduate up to a whole head.

Talking to Farr about the classes he teaches back in San Francisco, I found out that unlike the classes here in New York, his classes are completely hands-on.

Before the session, I introduced myself and told him about my Butchery project. He was into the idea and told me I'd be welcome to come in to photograph a class the next time I'm in San Francisco. I'm hoping to be there over the summer at some point, so keep your fingers crossed.

Ryan Farr at Cochon 555 NYC

Continue reading "Butchery: Ryan Farr at Cochon 555" »

February 8, 2010

Butchery: Dickson's Farmstand

_MG_7211 - Version 2

Friday morning, I spent a couple hours at Dickson's Farmstand, the newish butcher shop at Chelsea Market. Jake Dickson graciously allowed me to come in to look around and photograph his place as a part of my Butchery project.

This session was the first step in expanding the scope of the project beyond the same guys I've been shooting. As I'm developing the idea behind the project and what I want to do with it, I need a larger representative group to hold up the ideas behind it. I hope to do more shoots over the next month or two, introducing more faces, hands, spaces and animals to the collection of images.

_14_0473

At Dickson's, I spent most of the time documenting Adam, below, while he took apart three beef quarters. Adam eschews the term butcher in favor of the more descriptive 'meat cutter' and tries to keep closer to the traditional concepts of butchery that he learned when apprenticing under an old school butcher in Boston.

_MG_7934 - Version 2

One big difference in his methods I noticed is that Dickson's is equipped with hooks hanging from the ceiling that allow for easier cutting. I'd heard about this but hadn't seen it before. With the meat hanging down, pulling cuts off is significantly easier because gravity is on your side.

Adam used the same technique with hooks attached to his cutting table as well. It was interesting to watch.

Check after the jump for a few more photos. The rest are posted on Flickr in Digital and Analog sets.

Continue reading "Butchery: Dickson's Farmstand" »

January 11, 2010

Cooking: Hearts Afire

_MG_1324 - Version 2

We got one last beautiful day for the year the Sunday after Christmas. Just before the current deep freeze, the temperature reach up into the 50s and I took the opportunity to fire up the grill.

Eric came over and we grilled the lamb and beef hearts that I got from Fleisher's at the WinterMarket.

I was attracted to heart initially for the spectacle of the thing. It just seems to odd and primal, how could I not try it after all my 'whole beast' talk? But after trying it, it's the flavor an texture that will have me going back for more.

The preparation was limited to cutting off the fatty and tough bits and seasoning it with salt and pepper.

We grilled them to about medium rare and cut them into strips with kitchen shears.

_MG_1348 - Version 2

The meat was dense and a bit chewy without being tough. The flavors were intense. They tasted like beef and lamb, just more so. The beef did have a slightly 'liver-y' flavor, but not overpoweringly so.

At this point it is far too cold for going back out to grill again, but expect hearts to be a staple come grilling season.

December 30, 2009

WinterMarket 09: Fleisher's

_8A_0513 - Version 2

This bucket of guts and goodies brought to you by Fleisher's, the upstate butcher shop that has served as the training ground for many of the butchers that have been proselytizing the gospel of butchery in recent years.

Bryan apprenticed there through the fall and has continued to work there over the last several months and was working the booth with them at the WinterMarket. He introduced me to Jessica Applestone, who owns Fleisher's with her husband, Josh, the self-titled "MooRu". I'm hoping that next year some time I'll be able to visit the shop up in Kingston and photograph them and their apprentices in action.

For now though, I took advantage of the wonderfully priced offal and bought a pile of organ meats including a beef tongue, sweetbreads and a mix of beef and lamb hearts. The sweetbreads gave me some difficulty and didn't come out as well as I'd hoped, the hearts were awesome, more on that in a bit. I also bought a small pork roast that I cooked that night using Sara Jenkins' Porchetta salt that I also picked up that day.

December 15, 2009

Analog: Back to Butchery

12A_1319

It's been a little while since I've been able to devote any time to my Butchery project. Over the last couple months I've had to pass up opportunities to see and maybe shoot some interesting butchering demos due to other commitments or sometimes just sheer exhaustion.

This week I broke out of that rut and did two butchering shoots. Both were subjects I've shot before cutting more or less the same meat, but this time I got to shoot with film, which was really pretty exciting.

29A_1297

First, on Wednesday, I finally got a chance to visit The Meat Hook, the new Butcher shop run by Tom and Brent formerly of Marlowe and Daughters in conjunction with The Brooklyn Kitchen. The space also doubles as a teaching space and I sat in on a Pig butchering session. A year and a half ago, it was one of Tom's classes that got me interested in this whole Butchery thing in the first place. I enjoyed watching it all over again with a stronger knowledge of the subject.

To see more from that shoot, check out the Flickr set Pig Butchery at The Meat Hook.

30A_0033

Then on Friday, I stopped in at Greene Grape Provisions to shoot Bryan for a while as he took apart half a steer. Beef is a little foreign to me, I don't cook it much, so picking up the anatomy and the scale is really interesting. It's should be obvious, but cows are really, really big and so are their disassembled parts -- the bones, the muscles and the layers upon layers of flesh.

dia_0126

Those photos are posted on Flickr as well.

It was also particularly interesting to see what the textures and colors of film do to such a visceral subject matter. Without geeking out too much on my analog experiments, these shoots have been an interesting way for me to see how the hues and tones of one roll differs from another. Some bring out the pale greens of the fluorescent lights, others pop with the bloody redness of the meat -- and then there's Black and White. It's fascinating, all of it.

---_1239

---_0111

I'm currently looking at more photography classes at ICP for next year, particularly classes that are about building portfolios and working on long term projects. I hope to use it as an opportunity to pursue this Butchery project more consistently and to have a body of work that I can present for a show or publication.

I hope to spend some time reaching out to other butchers and delving deeper into the subject. The neighborhoods of New York offer all sorts of ethnic markets that prepare meat based on cultural and religious practices. Given the time and initiative, that could be a profoundly interesting path to go down. I'd also like to round out the meats represented by photographing some lamb and maybe game meats.

There are a million ways to go with this project, so stay tuned.

August 13, 2009

Markets: Food Dimensions

IMG_1946

I discovered Food Dimensions entirely by accident. Shortly after Tammi and I moved into our place, I was following a lead on a Western Beef Outlet, which turned out to be nothing special.

But on the way, I passed Food Dimensions, which just seemed like any other supermarket. The difference became clear when I got to the back of the store. The meat market takes up maybe a quarter of the store and there's often a crew of butchers working behind the counter.

Being right on the edge of Bushwick, the meat available is much more diverse than the standard fare at other similar supermarkets around the city. Besides the sausages in styles representing Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Mexico, there are cuts of meat that represented the concept of whole animal eating long before it became trendy. There are tongues and feet and tripe; skin and fatty bits are labeled as chicharrones. This is where I bought my first Lechon, the suckling pig I prepared Cuban style for our holiday party in '07.

They've also got a respectable fish market offering prices and selection not quite as good as Chinatown, but better than anywhere else I know. Last visit, Lobsters were available for $9 a pound, which is quite the bargain.

There are two reasons I don't include this in the Butchery series. The first is that the majority of the meat is packaged ahead of time, meaning there isn't necessarily always the same opportunity to work closely with the butchers to get what you want.

The other reason is that they've got a vast selection of Latin ingredients. Cactus leaves, espazote, chipotle peppers of both the canned and dried varieties, cheeses of many textures and flavors and so much more. Walking through the aisles is an adventure for me. I invariably end up picking up something I've never heard of just to see what I can do with it.

August 3, 2009

Butchery At Home: The Fourth of July

_MG_3836

That's right, I cut up another pig. It's late for me to post this, but, hey, I actually have a little time for once.

All my talk of butchery got me interested in doing a bit of my own. For our July 4th shindig, I bought a 37 pound pig and cut it up myself. This was the biggest pig I've tackled to date, but after a 16 and a 20 pounder, I had the anatomy down.

Like my first porchetta attempt last year, I deboned the mid-section and seasoned it with fennel pollen, rosemary, garlic and this time, lemon juice instead of full slices.

I rubbed the ribs with a cajun seasoning, which would have been great if there had been any meat to speak of there.

The shoulders and front legs were marinated in a Cuban citrus mixture, what's been a fixture of mine for years. Orange, Lime and Grapefruit juice mixed with vinegar, cumin, onions and garlic.

One back leg was rubbed in an achiote paste and slow roasted on the grill. The other, I have frozen and plan to cure as a ham. I may wait until the humidity goes down so I can avoid the trouble I ran into last time...

And of course, there's the head. Appleman made the wonderful suggestion of braising and then roasting it. It sounded like a great idea, but then I was perplexed by what to braise it in.

I found inspiration looking in the freezer. There were a number of containers full of porchetta stock from the bones of the Christmas party porchetta that I had no idea what I was going to do with. This was the answer.

I slow cooked the head half-covered in the stock and a mixture of the leftover seasonings from the new batch of porchetta, then I put the head on a cast iron and threw it on the grill for a bit to get some smoke and to crisp up.

It worked out really well. I shredded the meat from the cheeks and the ears and snout and chopped it up. it became an unctuous, mass of pulled pork that everyone who tasted it loved. The flavors of fennel and rosemary permeated every bite without dominating and the texture was transcendental in its tenderness.

The pig was definitely a win all around (except for the ribs, which had no meat on them). I don't know the next time I'll be able to do something like this again, but I've certainly eager to braise/roast another head and make wonderful things out of it.

Continue reading "Butchery At Home: The Fourth of July" »

July 9, 2009

Butchery: The Times Catches On The Rock Star Trend

_MG_1607 - Version 2

I have to say it was pretty gratifying to see The Paper of Record chime in on the Butchery theme I've been going on about.

Most of the New York scene mentioned in the story were things I've been following and planning on posting about, but it was interesting to read about what's going on in San Francisco in particular. I'll have to make a point of seeking out such things the next time I'm in the area.

I'm also interested in reading Julie Powell's upcoming book about her time at Fleisher's, the Meat Mecca of the east. And I may finally have to finish reading Heat just so I can read more about Dario Cecchini, who I've mentioned here before.

In any case, if you have any interest in all this meat talk, the story is worth the read just for tips on others doing this butchery thing. Enjoy!

June 24, 2009

Butchery With Bryan


_MG_1962 - Version 2, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of going behind the counter of Provisions in Fort Greene to photograph some butchery in action. Bryan has shown up here before in his experiments, curing lamb and trying to bring kid goat to the masses. I stop in from time to time just to see what he's been working on.

The other day, I asked if I could come in one day when he was taking something apart and he was awesome enough to allow me to watching dismantle a whole beef leg. It was quite impressive to see.

I'm generally working on a photo project about people working with food, particularly meat. I have no idea where I'm going with it, but this shoot should help me develop it further.

To see the photos, in all their gory details, see the set on Flickr.

May 18, 2009

Butchery: The Halal Market

IMG_0541 - Version 2

When I want to buy a leg of lamb for a party, I typically go to one of the halal markets down on Atlantic Avenue. I prefer it mostly for the ephemeral reason that it just seems a little more authentic. But I also like it because it's not nearly as expensive as the shrink-wrapped New Zealand lamb that I find in my local Foodtown. And it's fresher too.

It doesn't hurt that the place I usually go to is right next to The Brazen Head. Coincidentally, of course.

It's also just down the block from Sahadi's, which is one of the best spice markets in the city. That's a good thing too, as this market is always a little barren. There's a row of legs on display like this and shoulders and other cuts in the walk-in in the back. Besides that, there are boxes of grains and seasonings, but otherwise it's an empty space.

Halal Meat Market
232 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn,
(718) 625-2781

May 15, 2009

Finally! Provisions' Lamb Bacon

_MG_0878

After many failed attempts, I finally got my hands on this slab of lamb bacon from Provisions. Even better, they are now curing more on a regular basis so getting another batch won't take nearly so long.

First observation: As you can see here, it's very fatty. There's more meat in there that the sliver visible in this picture, but the fat is prominent.

My first experiment was to cut strips and wrap them in dates. I love bacon wrapped dates and I figured the combination of North African/Middle Eastern ingredients would go together well.

This wasn't as successful as I'd have liked. As my first try cooking the bacon, I realized afterward that I had no idea how crispy the bacon cooked on its own. When I cooked it more lightly, it was a little too gummy and was difficult to cut through with your teeth. When I left it to cook longer, it crisped up too much and had a burnt, gamy flavor that wasn't so great.

There is probably a perfect medium in there somewhere, but I didn't want to waste my entire slab trying this out, so I shelved that idea.


My second, more successful idea after the jump...

Continue reading "Finally! Provisions' Lamb Bacon" »

May 14, 2009

Butchery: Appleman Takes Rising Star Award At The Beards

IMG_1514

This is a tenuous link to the butchery thread, but I wanted an excuse to use this photo. Nate Appleman, one of the faces of the Butchery trend on the west coast received the Rising Star Chef at last week's 2009 James Beard Awards. I've been a fan of Appleman ever since taking his class at Astor and trying his food at A16.

May 1, 2009

Butchery: Jeffrey's Meat Market

_MG_0318 - Version 2

If there's anyone on board with the whole 'Butcher as Rockstar' meme that I've been writing about, it's Jeffrey Ruhalter, proprietor of Jeffrey's Meat Market in the Essex Street Market. He's a self-described "RFB," Real Fucking Butcher, and a fourth generation one at that.

Passing by his shop, you're going to know who he is immediately. Every surface that is not displaying meat or prices is dedicated to Jeffrey: His name is in neon lights and his image reproduced a dozen times over in portraits and caricatures.

The only time I've actually shopped at Jeffrey's, I was a little put off by his outsized personality. I ordered a couple pounds of beef cut up in chunks. He immediately inquired further about what I wanted to use it for. When I said chili, he insisted that the meat must be ground. He'd use a course die, so the pieces would be big and thick. This is when I got the "RFB" spiel and the guarantee that it would be better his way.

I can't argue with results. The chili came out very well and the meat was just right.

I've recently read that Jeffrey has jumped on the butchering class bandwagon, which I can totally see. His classes go beyond the pig and lamb that Mylan has done at Brooklyn Kitchen and also has a class all about fowl, including game birds.

Jeffrey's Meat Market
Essex Street Market
120 Essex Street (at Delancey Street)
New York, NY 10002


April 6, 2009

Butchery: Sagal Meat Market

IMG_2557

I first noticed Sagal on Broadway in Bushwick while driving through the area heading to Williamsburg. One of my friends saw it first: The giant sign in Spanish that read, "Order Your Lechon for the Holidays!" This was in November, a few weeks before the wedding, but it prompted him to ask if I was roasting another pig for the holiday party. A month later, I was in the store picking up my piglet, the lovely specimen you see here.

Sagal is not like the other butcher shops that have been highlighted of late. It's old school. It's not hipsterfied, and not looking to do interesting shit. There's no intellectual curiosity involved in making the cuts. There's no playing with food.

I love playing with food, but I really appreciate the straight ahead approach of an old-style shop that's got all the "old country" cuts. I'm a bit of an oddity there. In my visits, I'm usually the youngest customer in the shop, standing in line behind a row of older women, picking up meat to cook the way they've been cooking it for generations. When I ordered the suckling pig on my first visit, one of the butchers dubbed me "Señor Lechon" presuming I wouldn't understand him. I laughed and another butcher nudged him.

One major advantage over the hip butcher shops is that Sagal has some real bargains, including a dozen varieties of family packs, starting at $30 going up to $100, which can get you a collection of chickens, chops, steaks and guts totaling over 40 pounds.

I recently discovered that a new Sagal is in Bed-Stuy, on Fulton, near Nostrand Avenue. I checked it out this past weekend and will be posting about that pretty soon.

March 17, 2009

Butchery: Italy's Finest

Here's another example of the butcher in the spotlight: The new food blog by the Atlantic did a post last week on a man they call "Italy's Most Famous Butcher," Dario Cecchini of Chianti.

Tammi and I have both been wanting to go to Italy for years, and may go this fall. Now I have one more must-see to add to the list.

March 12, 2009

Finding the Cure

IMG_5562

This is a pork jowl, cured and aged to become guanciale. It's one of the many meats I've cured in the last several months. I keep mentioning all the curing and aging of meat I've been up to lately in passing without going into nearly enough detail. My apologies.

A little over a year ago, Eric bought me what may be my most interesting cookbook ever: Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman. I have to admit that at first I was a little put off by the necessity of special ingredients to avoid botulism, but ultimately the arcana required appeals to my particular strain of geek. Even before I was willing or able to make anything in the book, the theory of the concepts behind it had me reading it like a novel.

Once I finally got past my initial uneasiness, I made the following:

Guanciale
Pork Belly Confit
Pork Rillettes
Lardo
Bacon
Fatback
Pancetta

...and I've got a ham hanging until summer. We'll have to see how that one works out.

_MG_0419

This is a piece of cured belly just before I smoked it. Bacon and variations thereof have been the most common items I've made from Charcuterie. Of the bacons I've made, some were home smoked over hickory sawdust and lump charcoal, while others were soaked in a molasses mixture resulting in a sweet meat to accompany breakfast.

Others, like pancetta, salt pork and guanciale follow more of less the same directions, with adjustments in the cut of meat or the salts and spices used. They also tend to age longer, whether in the cure or not.

As I'm writing up more about the meat markets I've been going to, I've been neglecting where all that meat is going. I'll be putting a bit more effort into documenting this further, including an upcoming post on what I did with the guanciale that should be up in a couple days.

Butchery: Marlow & Daughter

_MG_3872

If any one person has brought Butchery the attention it deserves, it's Tom Mylan. He's certainly who got me interested in it. About a year ago, it was his class at Brooklyn Kitchen that fascinated me with the subject.

Since his classes began, he's been the face of local DIY butchery scene. Between his blogs and elsewhere his story is all over the internet and elsewhere, so I'm not going to tell it again. Suffice it to say that he knows his damn meat. I was psyched when I heard he was finally going to be selling his bloody wares to the public at Marlow & Daughters. If for no other reason than to be able to show up from time to time and talk meat and cool things to do with weird cuts.

_MG_3857

The shop is glorious. Where else are you going to find a cow's heart placed front and center on display and labeled, "Captain Beefheart?" I've never actually tried to cook or eat heart, but if I did - and wanted to feed a dozen people with it - I'd probably get it from here.

The first time I went, I got into a long discussion with Brett, another Marlowe butcher, about a confit I wanted to make. He was so excited about it that he tossed in a a pork tongue and tail to add to the pot.

Last month, I bought a deeply smoky link of andouille sausage that I used in chicken and rice. I'm told by Scott of the Shameless Carnivore that Tom uses the smokers at Char #4 on Smith Street to make these. Last I heard, Char's business has been so good that they haven't been able to spare the smoker space, so Tom's looking for an alternative.

I also bought a slab of fatback and a pork cheek that are hanging in my basement transforming into Lardo and Guanciale, respectively. More on that to come.

Going back to what I love about Provisions, the exploratory spirit of Marlowe & Daughters is as much at attraction as the meat itself.

As I mentioned before, the prices here can be prohibitive. The pork belly I cured to make bacon cost $12 a pound. There's no way I could afford to buy several pounds of this. But it's quality meat and totally worth it to splurge from time to time, depending on what you're doing. Hell, the conversation you can have with Tom or Brett can be worth the extra overhead.

Marlow & Daughters‎
95 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 388-5700

March 10, 2009

Butcher: Coney Closure

IMG_7718

I try not to write posts that are just links to other things on the internet, but I'd be remiss in my Butchery-reporting duties if I didn't make note of the closure of Major Prime Meat Market out in Coney Island a week or so ago. I've never been, but reading about it, this is the sort of place that we need more of. Hopefully, the recent revival of the butchering arts will bring back more of these back to the neighborhoods of our cities.

Before they closed up, Gothamist interviewed Jimmy Prince about hanging up his cleavers.

February 27, 2009

Butchery: Provisions

_MG_2148

I've mentioned Provisions a few times lately. It's the place I bought that wonderful ground lamb for the Meatball project and the kid goat for the cabrito, Jalisco style. It's the grocery outpost of the Greene Grape wine shop that has been in the neighborhood for a few years now. I'm a big fan of the wine shop but haven't shopped at Provisions so much. They have a number of great items available, but their price point is often more than I can get the same items elsewhere. If I need something in a pinch or when I'm in the neighborhood, I'll go, but otherwise, I never had a reason to make it a destination.

In the last couple of weeks, I've found my reason: The Meat.

The key here is the creativity. Bryan, the head butcher at Provisions is seeking out interesting meats and doing cool stuff with it. If there's anything to the theory of the Butcher as Foodie Rockstar, it's what he's doing here.

When I went in to pick up meat for Meatball Madness, I ended up having a great conversation about the Lamb Bacon with him. A couple days later, it was on Bittman's Blog, which will hopefully encourage a demand to make some more. I really want to try it. He says it's got an innate sweetness to it that sounds really interesting.

Last Friday they brought in a whole kid goat from D'artagnan just to see what it was like and how it would sell. Provisions was my first stop Saturday morning to make sure I got some. I talked to Berlin, the butcher behind the counter that day, and his excitement was palpable. He told me about the cuts they came up with and the parts, like the head, that they're still thinking of what to do with. I was excited just hearing about it. This is what is making butchering interesting these days.

The price point is still an issue. The goat was $15.99 a pound, which is a hefty sum, but where else am I going to find it? The same with the Lamb Bacon. And I'll happily shell out extra for something new and experimental. That's the way I cook and having a butcher around who thinks the same way is awesome. I won't be stopping in here to get ingredients for a 30 minute meal, but I'll be coming through once a week or so to see what's new.

February 23, 2009

Butchery Begins

IMG_6712

I've heard i said that butchers are replacing chefs as the rockstars of the foodie world . I don't know if I believe that, but the idea comes from the reception that folks like Tom Mylan have been getting by taking meat back from the shrinkwrap and styrofoam world.

As people start to consider where our food comes from, our attention has moved up the supply chain. Ten years from now, there will, no doubt, be a reality show about farmers. For now, though, it's the moment for the meat mongers.

Obviously, this is an area that I'm interested in. Last year, I took Mylan's pig class at Brooklyn Kitchen and Nate Appleman's class on Porchetta and I tried my hand at deboning a suckling pig myself. I've also been doing various curing projects that have thus far gone undocumented.

With butchery on the cusp, as it were, I figure it's time we knew where to find them. So, for a little while at least, I'm going to do some write ups about the meat markets around town. Call it a guide. I'll cover the high-end, blogged about, destination spots but also some of the community spots that cut meat everyday without fanfare or hipster sex appeal. Given my recent curing interests, I'll probably stray a bit into the area of charcuterie, so forgive me if each place doesn't technically fall under the official designation of butcher shop.

I intend this to be a space where we grant some glory to those who transform beasts of the field into something that can fit in a pan. Hopefully this will also be a helpful spot to find a better place to get your meat than the local supermarket.

More to come...

January 14, 2009

Porchetta at Home

IMG_2555

Just after Christmas, Tammi and I hosted our annual holiday party and here you see the guest of honor. This was my attempt at the Porchetta I watched Nate Appleman prepare at the Astor Center early last month.

While it was generally a success, I feel there was some room for improvement and I hope to try to do better in some future (smaller) attempts.

Regarding the finished product, it was very tasty. Honestly, I barely had any of the actual porchetta, which is the abdominal section of the pig. Once it cooled, I cut that part up and served it for our guests. Nothing came back, so it definitely went over well.

That said, I'm writing this as a critique so I know what I want to do differently in the future, so most of the rest of this post is going to be the challenges I had or the things I want to fix the next time around.

First thing, the lemons. this was ann idea I picked up from Appleman's class. He mentioned that he learned this some time ago and found that the citrus added another layer that he enjoyed. I didn't like it at all. Immediately after cutting into the pig, the strongest scent was hot citrus, which wasn't what I wanted. I scraped out the lemons before serving the pork because I thought it was just too strong. I wouldn't use them again in the future.

All of that also points to an issue that was entirely my fault: not enough seasoning. I sought out fennel pollen, which I manage to get a friend to source for me from his wholesaler. It's an unusual ingredient and on the pricey side, but when used well, as they do at Porchetta in the East Village, it's transcendental. I guessed at the amount, using a gentler hand with it because I had heard it described as being as strong as saffron. Between its strength and the 3 day seasoning time, I thought it best to be cautious with the amount I used. I should have used more. Again, it was very good, but the fennel flavor, which I wanted to be primary was more subtle than I would have liked. I think I could have used more rosemary as well, but generally I was ok with the way that flavor turned out.

Finally, the skin is always awesome, and it was great here, but it wasn't as crisp s I would have liked, even though I finished it off at 500 for an hour. I think it would have benefitted from a rubdown with fat of some sort when I turned the heat up. I had confit on hand, so I could have used some of the fat from that, or even olive oil, I suppose.

After the jump, some photos from the prep and my notes on my first major attempt at butchery.

Continue reading "Porchetta at Home" »

December 22, 2008

Porchetta Class at The Astor Center

IMG_1492

I'm ridiculously behind in posting this. And at this point, I'm so behind on posting anything that there's much more to say, but here's the start.

On Friday, December 12th, I attended a class at The Astor Center led by Nate Appleman and Shelly Lindgren from A16 in San Francisco.

In a bit of serendipity, I discovered the class in November just a day after deciding that I wanted to make some sort of Porchetta for next weekend's Holiday Party. Except I had no idea how to do it. I was going to wing it, but then I came across this.

I've mentioned Porchetta before, but for the uninitiated, it is roast pig, usually whole, seasoned with salt, rosemary, garlic and fennel that is rolled and roasted. What you get is meltingly tender meat, scented with the herbs in every bite and surrounded by crispy skin. It's amazing.

I had heard of A16 during my research for my last visit to SF in the summer, but never made it out there. I just found out I'll be going back to SF in two weeks, so I'm definitely going to check it out. I don't know if Porchetta is on the menu, but from the morsel handed out at the session, and the rummaging through the A16 book I picked up while there, they definitely have food I need to eat.

After the jump, my notes on how to turn that fine specimen above into this:

IMG_1627

Continue reading "Porchetta Class at The Astor Center" »


Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
www.flickr.com
This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from ultraclay!. Make your own badge here.
Bookmark and Share
Add to Technorati Favorites



Categories