Joshua and Jessica Applestone are reformed vegetarians who own a butcher shop in New York's Hudson Valley. It's an unlikely path for people who eschewed meat for years. Yet Joshua--a trained chef and descendant of a long line of butchers--and Jessica yearned to buy sustainably raised and ethically slaughtered meat from a knowledgeable source. They opened Fleisher's in 2004, using Joshua's family name--the name used by his great-grandfather and grandfather for their butcher shop in Brooklyn.
In The Butcher's Guide to Well-Raised Meat, the Applestones have teamed with Alexandra Zissu, a green-living expert and author, to pen a resource and recipe book for consumers who want to learn more about sustainably raised meat, what questions to ask their butcher, and how to cut, store, preserve, and cook meat.
The Applestones refer to themselves as ethical carnivores. They contend that there are ways for carnivores to drastically reduce the impact of what's on their plates. They further argue that a vegan eating tofu from pesticide-intensive, genetically modified soy crops isn't as eco-conscious as they may think. At Fleisher's, they only sell 100% pasture-raised animals that are local (within 150 miles of the store) and not given hormones or antibiotics. In the appendix, they share their tips for finding meat like this in your part of the country.
The Butcher's Guide to Well-Raised Meat is part reference book and part cookbook. The introduction talks about the history of livestock farming in the U.S. and where it went wrong. There is information about what to look for on labels and what questions to ask your butcher. There are lots of color photos of various cuts of meats, and techniques like how to break down a whole lamb. There are also illustrations for things people are more likely to do, like cut up a chicken or tie a roast.
As owners of a butcher shop, the Applestones are particularly savvy when it comes to using every part of the animal. Therefore you'll find information about various types of fat and how to cook with them or use them in sausages. There is information about raw-meat pet food, and a chart for how to cook offal. They've also shared tips for eating affordably, and include a list of 10 meals that you can make with $50 worth of sustainably raised meat, like a $12 chicken.
In the chapters on lamb, beef, pork, and poultry, there is information about breeds and how to cook various cuts. There are suggestions for less-common cuts that are usually butcher favorites, like the lamb neck, beef shanks, and pork cutlets. In addition to recipes for things like beef-tongue tacos, chicken-liver pate, and lamb meatballs,you can make your own bresaola, prosciutto, sweet Italian sausage, and bacon. And, my favorite--there are even instructions for hosting a pig roast in your driveway.