For our fifth wedding anniversary, my awesome wife surprised the shit out of me with a butchery class and tour at the Mosner family meat processing plant in Hunt’s Point in the Bronx.
The business has been around for nearly six decades, starting with meat deliveries from the back of a station wagon until the brand slowly built up to become a well known, high-end meat distributor for some of the area’s finest steakhouses and meat purveyors.
Three grandchildren of the original Mosner start-up (Seth, Jessica, and Ben) run the incredibly informative tour and butchery class on Saturdays. The first thing you’ll do is suit up in a butcher’s coat and some gloves. Just a word of advice – bundle up if you do this. Inside it is just about freezing.
It starts out with introductions and some information from Jessica about the company, what they do, the history, etc. Then comes an awesome, testosterone building meat chant in call-and-response format. MEAT MEAT MEAT! This is a shot of Ben pulling us in for the huddle just before the chanting began.
Once inside, the learning begins. Seth and Ben informed us about the lamb and veal they deal in, including how it is treated at the farm (they enjoy a stress free and healthy life, which makes for better flavors), how it is slaughtered (with the utmost standards of humaneness), and how it is processed (skilled artists and craftsmen butchers).
Check out some of the other beautiful decor here:
Next up, Jessica runs through some of the important (and often times confusing to those not in the know) labels that the meat industry applies to various products.
“Antibiotic Free” vs “No Antibiotics,” for example (“No Antibiotics” means NO ANTIBIOTICS have ever been in the animal. “Antibiotic Free” means that there were no traces of antibiotics in the animal at the time of slaughter, but that doesn’t mean the animal never had any antibiotics in its lifetime). Here’s a nice little print-out that they gave the class: not everything we learned is on here, but this is a great start.
After this, we watched Chris, AKA “Da Butcher,” perform a lightning fast demo of his amazing butchery skills as he broke down the roast and rib ends of a pig in what had to be under 3 minutes WITH pauses in place to show us and explain what he was doing.
Then we had an opportunity to buy some high end meat at super wholesale prices. I’m talking PRIME beef for $9.99/lb. They even had an entire trailer full of game meats, with lots of harder to find stuff like elk, duck, venison, kangaroo, gator, snake, ostrich, pheasant, squab and others. Are you FUCKING serious?!?? I was in heaven! We decided to get some rarities like duck sausage and confit duck legs, but I could have easily blown the mortgage on this delicious shit.
Now for the hands-on stuff. I had to put my camera down, so there are no “action” photos, but we all got to do what “Da Butcher” did in his demo: namely, slice up the roast and rib of the pig.
We were instructed on everything from the best way to hold the knife, to how to properly get the meat off the bone without nicking or slicing up the good bits. Afterwards, we took all our cuts over to the vaccum sealer and put them into boxes that were pre-labeled with our names on them. That’s right – you get to bring home all that delicious piggy meat that you just butchered!!!
I watched as the staff expertly portioned and wrapped the prime stuff that other classmates had purchased.
Then Ben took me around to show me some of the offal that they sell as well. I’m talking everything – liver, heart, bones, sweetbreads – you name it, they sling it.
As you may have guessed, I’ve reviewed some of their steakhouse customers, and I have to tell you: there is a stark and obvious correlation. The places that use Mosner to source their meat all have excellent ratings on my leaderboard.
What an amazing gift! If you guys get a chance, you should definitely go as well. Not only do you learn a lot about the meat proteins you are eating, but you will come away with a great appreciation for the hard work and effort that goes into bringing these products to your dinner table. My wife knows that I secretly wish I were a butcher, so this was a real treat for me. Look – I even got a participation award.
Once we got home, I was itching to try some of what we just worked on, so I took the stew meat scraps and threw them into the slow cooker with apple moonshine, apple sauce, apple flavored water, and a bunch of mulling type spices like cinnamon and cloves.
I set it on low and slow. Four hours later the result was amazing. My wife and I threw it onto a sandwich with some pickled cabbage and a spicy mayo. Check out the recipe HERE.
I recently became aware that Long Island has a thriving buffalo ranch out in Riverhead called North Quarter Farm. When I started digging around online about it, I came across a few articles written over the last 10 or 15 years that championed the effort. See the NY Times Article and the Long Island Press Article. I learned that the farm owners also have a steakhouse-type restaurant called Tweeds, run by the husband of the bison ranch team, where they proudly feature many items that derive from bison (buffalo mozz, buffalo hanger steak, buffalo rib eye, buffalo reuben sandwich, etc). There’s even a second restaurant, right next door and run by the wife in the farm team, called Dark Horse. This place is more of a casual bar type of place, with a modern decor and music selection, featuring items like buffalo pate and buffalo pastrami sandwiches. I inquired about whether they use the actual buffalo from the farm in the restaurants. The answer was no (with the exception of the “ground steak” used to make the bison burgers at Dark Horse). Unfortunately their bison must go out to PA to be USDA certified before they can be slaughtered and cooked up into delicious food. But I thought it was cool that they put as much buffalo meat onto the menu as possible to pay tribute to their ranch business. They even offer buffalo meat cuts (steaks of all kinds, pate, chopped meat, etc) to buy and take home for your own cooking adventures.
So my wife and I decided to take a drive out there to try the food and to see the farm. We settled on eating at Tweeds, since we liked the interior better and it was a little more quiet. Since we ordered from the lunch menu I couldn’t realistically give the place a full review here, but I thought it was worth mentioning in a commentary with some photos. The place was beautiful inside, rich with local history and an old timey atmosphere. Apparently the giant bison head on the wall beside the bar is the actual last bison that Teddy Roosevelt ever hunted. Pretty cool. The service was excellent; our waitress Janine was really nice, helpful, and sweet. They had a great selection of German beers on tap and in bottles, and the food was fucking delicious. We started with a bison skewer and a couple of beers. The meat was juicy and tender; cooked just right. For my entree I had a bison hanger steak. It too was perfectly cooked, juicy, and delicious. It came with a peppercorn cognac cream sauce that I could drink by the gallon. So good. My wife had the corned bison Reuben sandwich. Just like a regular corned beef Reuben, but with corned bison. It was incredible, and served with some big sliced pickles. Both of our meals came with potato wedges, deep fried with the skin still on for a really delicious, crispy, homemade pile of steak fries. Needless to say we will definitely be going back here for a proper dinner, where I can sink my teeth into a buffalo rib eye (it wasn’t on the lunch menu).
Scroll down for pics of our food, and for pics of the buffalo at the farm. The bison were right along the fence for a bit, so I got a few close up shots before they walked away. We even had the pleasure of seeing some of the bison “wallowing,” or rolling themselves in a shallow dirt spot, covering themselves in dust.