For Your Labor Day Grilling: Check Out These Great NYC Butcher Shops
Although you can easily get a nice variety of decent cuts these days at any Whole Foods, Fairway, or Citarella, every NYC neighborhood deserves a great butcher, preferably of the old-school, family-owned variety. Places like Ottomanelli Brothers, Lobel's, Ottomanelli & Sons, Schatzie, Harlem Shambles, and J. Baczynsky's Ukranian Meat Market will always beat the big guys on quality, especially for special occasions.
Now-a-days, a new breed of butcher has been changing the face of NYC meat markets, combining the old-fashioned personalized service with a contemporary commitment to locavore ideals and education. Let's take a look at some!
(Top two photos courtesy Meat Hook)
The Meat Hook in Williamsburg
First up is The Meat Hook, located in Williamsburg. Dedicated not only to providing you and me with excellent food, but also in establishing long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with farmers. Not big agribusinesses- real, actual people, to ensure that every animal sold here was raised and slaughtered in a humane way. The farmers get three time as much from Meat Hook as they would from one of the big supermarket chains, so the incentive to do it right is firmly in place. All the beef is from grass-fed cows, and all the hogs and lambs were raised out in a pasture. Additionally, all the butchers are highly-trained, profile-worthy individuals.
There are also classes almost every day at their partner space, The Brooklyn Kitchen; a robust sausage program. And if that's still not enough reasons to head on over to Williamsburg… Right next door is The Meat Hook Sandwich Shop, which everyone says is the absolute best in the city, and which I personally can't wait to visit.
(Photo via Cherrypatter's Flickr)
Dickson's Farmstead Meats
Back in Manhattan, at the always-packed Chelsea Market (and with good reason: the food line-up here remains pretty stellar, even as it gets mobbed with tourists), there's Dickson's Farmstead Meats. Everything they sell here, all of the great steaks and chops, all of the bacon, sausages, and charcuterie, is butchered and created by the Dickson's Farmstead crew on premises. Even the condiments on the eminently satisfying sandwiches are made in the back! We suggest getting the roast beef with horseradish crema and pickled red onions.
Dickson's Farmstead also offers classes (as you'll see, this is kind of mandatory for the new wave of butcher shops), both of the "demo" and "hands-on" variety, on topics such as sausage making, smoking, and jerky. Coming soon: visits to the farms and slaughterhouses.
Flying Pigs Farm
Flying Pigs Farm is physically located along the Battenkill River in Washington County, New York, but if you've ever eaten an amazing slab of pork at, say, ABC Cocina, Telepan, Gramercy Tavern, Back 40 West, or Jean Georges (among many others), you've likely been chowing down on one of Mike Yezzi and Erin Small's rare, heritage breed pigs.
You don't have to travel upstate to bring home the bacon yourself: every Friday in Union Square, and every Saturday in Grand Army Plaza, the Flying Pigs Farms crew sets up shop in these respective greenmarkets, with a wide array of cuts from humanely, sustainably raised pigs. There are chops, ribs, cutlets, and roasts, of course, but my go-to here is the breakfast meats. Simply put, the Flying Pigs Farm breakfast sausage is the best you'll ever eat. All of the bacon varieties are also top-notch, there's raved-about leaf lard for bakers, and the Flying Pigs Farm eggs have been a part of our weekend breakfast routine for years.
(Photo courtesy of Fleisher's)
Fleisher's in Park Slope
Every piece of meat sold at Fleisher's, in Park Slope conforms to strict standards:
- All animals are pasture raised,
- No pesticides or herbicides, no antibiotics
- Strictly vegetarian diets
- Nose-to-tail cutting
- From farms within 50 miles of the butcher's original shop in Kingston, New York.
Like all the butchers in this article, Fleisher's pasture-raised meats are about 15% more expensive than what you might find in a supermarket, but considering how good it all tastes and the peace of mind it gives you, it is totally worth the extra few bucks. Plus, if you stick with Fleisher's excellent grinds and sausages (all made in-house), their free-range organic chickens, and their stew meats, feeding yourself and/or your family, while doing the right thing, is totally do-able even for those of us on a budget.
(Photo courtesy Heritage Foods USA)
Heritage Foods USA
Finally, take a look at Heritage Foods USA, which offers both a robust mail-order meat program based in Brooklyn and a small shop in the great Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side, AND a radio station, transmitting from the back of Roberta's in East Williamsburg. Heritage Foods partners with a small group of family farmers around the country who have committed to humanely raising rare and heritage breeds of pigs, cows, chickens, turkeys, sheep, lamb, goats, ducks, rabbit, bison. You've likely eaten plenty of Heritage Foods meat at all sorts of restaurants around town (including Spotted Pig, Fette Sau, Carbone, Salumeria Rosi, Momofuku Ssam, all of Batali's spots, and many, many more), but check out the website for a huge variety of cuts, grinds, sausages, charcuterie, and gift packages that you can have sent directly to your home.