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4 S h o w t h e A n i m A l Local. Natural. Meaty. —Motto of Dickson’s Farmstand Meats Eat Real Food. —Written in red-lettering on a billboard facing the eastbound BrooklynQueens Expressway, on top of the Brooklyn Kitchen, location of the Meat Hook butcher shop Tuesday is delivery day at Dickson’s. Joe, the driver, goes to the Double L Ranch, about twelve miles west of Albany and two-and-a-half hours north of New York City, to pick up the animals and drive them down to the shop in a refrigerated truck. A small, family-owned and operated abattoir, Double L slaughters animals for Dickson’s from its nearby farmers.1 Depending on the week and season, the shop gets five to six steers, eight to ten pigs, and four to six lambs per week.2 The pigs and lambs are slaughtered the day before delivery . These come sawed in half along the spine. The steers are slaughtered two weeks before. These dry age in Double L’s refrigerator before delivery, and arrive quartered: sawed in half along the spine, and then split into shoulder and hind sections, with the rib section removed separately (imagine a giant chainsaw hanging from a high ceiling, which is what they use to accomplish this task).* * Dry aging is a process that involves letting beef hang at near-freezing temperatures for several weeks, which allows water to evaporate from the muscles, leading to more highly concentrated flavor, and the enzymes to break down the tough connective tissue and muscle, leading to more tender meat. Dry aged meat costs more because the product is kept off the market that much longer (as with aged spirits), and because the meat weighs less after the water ‹ 102 › C h a p t e r 4 One Tuesday at around 10:30 a.m. Joe backs the truck up to the loading dock on 16th Street. I help Giancarlo, Aldo, and JM (short for Jose Manuel) unpack it. We’ve mostly been preparing for the delivery all morning by printing labels for the bags and filling the display case with what remains from last week’s delivery. Along with the hanging meat, in the truck are boxes of offal, removed from the animals after slaughter.* We carry the sections into the walk-in refrigerator, and the butchers will break them down over the next few days. After the weekend the walk-in is fairly empty. By the end of the day it will be bursting, the shelves loaded with vacuum-sealed bags of primal cuts and trim.† Delivery day is also beef day. We bring most of the beef sections into the walk-in, and take two out into the cutting area. The sections are very heavy, and despite being nearly frozen, very messy. Blood stains our white butcher coats, aprons, and gloves, and bits of fat stick to our hats. Small pools of blood form under the animals in the walk-in. With two hind quarters hanging from the rail, in full view of the shop, Aldo asks JM, “Ready?” Sharpening his scimitar knife, JM nods his head. They bump fists, grab their hooks, and get to work. Meghan, the other intern, and I await the primal cuts the butchers will hurl in our direction after removing them from the carcasses. Tip-cap, eye round, shank, flank, sirloin, tenderloin, culotte. When the hindquarter is done, they bring out the shoulder. Brisket, Tiberio, chuck neck, platanillo, top blade, clod. Meghan and I stuff each of them in a bag, slap on a label, vacuum seal them, and set them aside to go in the walk-in. With so many cuts, we sometimes have trouble identifying them all correctly. I try to memorize the cuts’ unique features: chuck neck (large, kind of ribbed on one side), top blade (long, flat, thick, with a fat cap on it), sierra (kind of shaped like a trapezoid ), clod (large), brisket (also large, but with a lot of fat on it), complexus (small, so stuff a lot in one bag).‡ The labels have “WO” or “SWA” written on evaporates from it, which means the customer would pay less for dry aged meat compared to freshly slaughtered meat without a price increase by the abattoirs and retail outlets. * Offal is the internal organs of animals, such as liver and heart. While it sells these parts, Dickson’s also uses them to make dog food. † Primal cuts...


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MARC Record
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