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Into the Meat of the Matter


IN 2004, JOSHUA AND JESSICA APPLESTONE opened Fleisher’s Grass-fed & Organic Meats in Kingston. Their aim was to provide locals (and themselves) with sustainable meat, as Jessica said at the time, “to show people why grass-fed is better.”

Modeled after an old-fashioned butcher shop (like the one Josh’s grandfather ran in Brooklyn in the early 1900s), the shop has become a Mecca for those seeking sustainably raised, local meats and a good conversation about them.

Fleisher’s sells to some of the finest restaurants in New York City and the Hudson Valley and has become a training ground for a new generation of butchers.

The Applestones share their story and their knowledge with the release of their first book, The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat (Clarkson Potter, 2011, hardcover $27.50), written with Alexandra Zissu. Part memoir, part manifesto, part guide, the book offers a compendium of useful knowledge on how to buy, cut and cook meat.

The book includes a chapter on the art of butchery—the primal cuts—and separate sections on each meat family: lamb, pork, beef and poultry. Interwoven is the underlying philosophy of “sustainability,” the importance of heritage breeds, pasture-raised versus grain-fed and sourcing. Complete with color and black-and-white photographs, illustrations and diagrams and more than a dozen recipes, including a helpful recipe for “cooking the perfect steak,” (see below), the book is a handy reference for conscientious carnivores (and those who think they want to be).

This fall, the Applestones bring the art and commerce of butchery home as they hang a Fleisher’s Meats sign once again in Brooklyn. The Applestones are set to open a second location in the Park Slope neighborhood.

Hudson Valley Restaurant Week is back this April 8-21!