Meat and potatoes make for the ultimate comfort food but, for many, concerns about the environment, dietary health or the source and treatment of the animals may have made it something to be avoided. Queens residents who want to find locally raised and ethically sourced meat can find a great selection at Butcher Bar in Astoria.
Not only do they serve up authentic barbecue in their restaurant, but they are also an artisanal butcher shop. The meat sold and served in Butcher Bar is locally raised on farms no further than 2 hours away in upstate New York. They also carry products from D’Artagnan and Heritage Foods. Certain cuts are organic, and they are all free of growth hormones or the use of prophylactic antibiotics. The cattle are grass-fed and pastured, which means the animals can move and graze freely, making the meat they provide significantly lower in fat and higher in Omega-3s; not to mention a better life for the animal.
While high quality, humanely-raised meat does come at a higher price point than conventional, it offers greater nutritional benefits and proponents note a richer flavor. The beauty of visiting a specialty shop, such as Butcher Bar, is that they are happy to answer your questions. The knowledgeable staff knows exactly where each cut has come from, how it was raised, and they can even provide you with cooking tips.
If you’re looking for a way to incorporate organic or pastured meat into your diet, consider some of the longer cooking cuts like brisket or short ribs; much less pricey and more flavorful than filet mignon. Below is a recipe for short ribs that are braised slowly in a flavorful liquid with lots of vegetables. Pair it with a cauliflower potato mash and it’s guilt-free comfort food.
Braised Short Ribs with Cauliflower Potato Mash
Makes 4-6 servings
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2-3 lbs of boneless short ribs
- ½ cup flour
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 4 large carrots, chopped (any combination of root vegetables like turnips or parsnips can be added as well)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 1 cup chicken or beef stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 head of cauliflower, trimmed into 1-2” pieces
- 2 Yukon-gold potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup milk
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 large bunch of parsley, freshly chopped
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Heat oil in a large high-sided pot or Dutch oven. Season short ribs with salt and pepper, then lightly dredge in flour and shake off excess. Brown the ribs for 4-6 minutes on each side, without moving. Work in batches and remove to a rimmed tray or plate.
- Add onion and carrot to hot pot and cook until softened, about 8-10 minutes. Add tomato paste, toss to coat vegetables and cook for another 5 minutes. Add wine, scraping browned bits from bottom, and simmer until reduced by half.
- Add stock and return meat and any juices back into pan. Add bay leaf and thyme, cover and then bring to a boil. Once boiling, transfer the covered pot to the oven and cook for 2-2 ½ hours.
- Near the end of the meat’s cooking time, boil cauliflower and potatoes in salted water for about 20 minutes until tender. Drain and return to pot. Toss the cauliflower and potato mixture over a low flame until any excess water has dried, then mash with a potato masher.
- Add butter and continue to mash until a uniform consistency. Add milk, season with salt, and stir. Add Parmesan before serving.
- After short ribs have cooked 2-2 ½ hours and are fork tender, remove from oven. Using a slotted spoon remove ribs and vegetables. Discard bay leaf, thyme stems, and spoon off any excess fat from the surface. Bring remaining sauce to a simmer until thickened and reduced, about 5-8 minutes. Chop parsley and lemon zest together.
- Serve the short ribs and vegetables over cauliflower potato mash. Spoon sauce over top and sprinkle with parsley and lemon zest.
Butcher Bar: Artisanal Butcher and BBQ Restaurant using local, grass-fed and organic meat.
When: Sunday-Thursday 11:30am-11pm, Friday-Saturday 11:30am-12am
Where: 37-08 30th Avenue, Astoria; 718-606-8140
By: Vivian Cardinale