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Meat Harlem Shambles…

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Meat is not generally something that shows up on a trend report, but for all you foodies and conscientious eaters out there, here is something to think about – organ meats. Initially I thought the topic was “Oregon” meats, but I had misunderstood. I spoke with Tim Forrester, co-owner of Harlem Shambles, to dissect this topic.

“I think that people have been introduced to organ meats and find that they are quite different from traditional steaks and something new that they can play with in the kitchen.  At the same time, we have people who have cooked with organ meats for a long time, but have had difficulty finding them.  They are happy to find a more traditional butcher shop that carries some of the odd bits,” explained Tim.

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Tim and his brother Mark opened the butcher shop back in 2011. “I was originally looking more in the Morningside / Upper West Side area, but when I walked through South Harlem I really liked the vibe a lot better.”

Forrester believes that the organ trend might be driven in part by the economy. “I think when people are on tighter budgets they are glad to find some steaks that they don’t necessarily see in the grocery store,” he said.

Forrester says the shop gets liver, heart, tongue and kidney.  “Tongue is popular in a braise (delis prepare it just like corned beef and slice it for sandwiches). The heart is probably my favorite, and is really good just cut into thin slices and grilled. Very simple and tasty.”

Because the heart is a muscle, Forrester says it acts more like a tender steak than the other organs, which tend to have a very different texture.

New cuts of beef are also a rising trend in the world of meats. “Some of our popular cuts include the Denver cut, petit filet, rump steaks and pave’, and most customers haven’t heard of these cuts.  They are priced well below the filet and rib eye, and have a lot to offer,” Forrester said. The lesser-known cuts are lower in cost and have gained momentum in sales. Here is a break down: A Denver cut is located in the upper part of the “chuck”, a petit filet is a smaller cut from the center of the tenderloin, rump steaks are self explanatory, and the pavé cut a.k.a filet de rumsteak is a thin and strong flavored part of the rump as well.

Aside from keeping up with the latest trends – quality and ethical practices are important to the Harlem Shambles team. Forrester says he started visiting farms all over New York State until he found the ones with the right philosophy and quality. “It turned out that there were a number of farms raising grass fed beef, and hormone free animals, etc. but when we sampled the beef it just wasn’t any good, and wasn’t something I felt l could sell.  But we’re very happy with the producers we have and have formed close relationships with them,” he noted.

If you’re in the neighborhood and looking for a quality steak or organ meats, make sure to stop by Harlem Shambles at 2141 Frederick Douglass Blvd.

Let us know if you have a local butcher selling organ meats and any recipes you have found noteworthy.

Check out Harlem Shambles on Twitter and Facebook 

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