Butcher Shop Meat Photography

I was recently asked to do some butcher shop meat photography. The Applestone Meat Company wanted pretty much all of their cuts of meat documented. The challenge was to come up with an attractive way to photograph this glorious meat in its raw form. We wanted appetite appeal, and that can be a tough ask from a raw piece of meat. We brainstormed. They suggested white. I suggested marble. We decided to show the raw meat in the very early stages of cooking. The higher end cuts were dressed up in only salt and pepper. Some of the other cuts were given marinades and dry spice rubs.

This butcher shop also produces a lot of sausages – andouille, bratwurst, hot Italian, chorizo, Parmesan and broccoli rabe and many more… well over a dozen different blends. We wanted to show these, but we didn’t want to show them raw with raw ingredients around them. So, we cooked the sausages in a way that reflected their particular characters. One of the butchers at the shop happens to be a trained chef. He and the Applestone team came up with recipes, and he cooked them for the camera.

Look for these images rolling out on the Applestone Meat Company’s website and social media channels in the near future.

Butcher Shop Meat Photography NYC

Butcher Shop Meat Photography NYC

Butcher Shop Meat Photography sausage

Butcher Shop Meat Photography Jennifer May

Applestone Meat Company

This morning I woke to the sound of chirping birds outside my window. The chirps made me think of spring. Spring made me think of summer. Summer made me think of picnics, grilling, and camping. And then I thought of this shoot I did recently for the Applestone Meat Company, showcasing their meats in all of those settings. This was all from beneath a heavy quilt in my bed, mostly with my eyes closed. The reality of the day is that the trees are bare, and the roads are icy. But the birds are returning, and it was a beautiful waking dream.

Applestone Meat Company breakfast setting food photography Jennifer May

Applestone Meat Company grilling picnic Jennifer May photo

Brisket Take 2

A family member ran the Boston Marathon, and we prepared a feast for him the next day. We had smoked brisket, potatoes au gratin, kale salad, and pickled beets. We encourage our toddler to help in the kitchen as often as possible, and here she is patting down the spice rub.

brisket rub
Toddler uses hands to pat down a dry rub of paprika, granulated onion & garlic, brown sugar onto a brisket

The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat

I am excited to announce the publication of The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat (Clarkson Potter). Written by Alexandra Zissu and Josh & Jessica Applestone of Fleisher’s Grass-fed & Organic Meats in Kingston, NY – and featuring 125 color and black & white photographs by me – the book is part guide, memoir, manifesto, reference and cookbook. The official publication date is June 6, 2011, but here are some previews from my advance copy:

The cover.

A selection of fats.

Joshua Applestone, Fleisher's Grassfed Meat, Cookbook, butcher, photos by Jennifer May

Dry rub on a chicken

Pastured steer on a farm in the Hudson Valley.

Joshua Applestone, Fleisher's Grassfed Meat, Cookbook, butcher, photos by Jennifer May

A pastured pig on a small farm in the Hudson Valley.

Joshua Applestone, Fleisher's Grassfed Meat, Cookbook, butcher, photos by Jennifer May

Josh in the Fleisher’s meat locker.

Joshua Applestone, Fleisher's Grassfed Meat, Cookbook, butcher, photos by Jennifer May

Detail of a two page graph showing the best ways to cook offal.

 

Nose to Tail Cooking

For the February 2011 issue of Chronogram magazine, I observed a lesson in cooking offal from Chef Rich Reeve. When we had finished, there was a buffet of: beef heart tacos, roasted marrow bones, bbq pig’s tail, pig’s ear frittata, and cow’s tongue pastrami. For Peter Barrett’s full story – and an easy recipe for chicken and pork liver terrine – click here.

Marrow bones in nose to tail cookingOffal beef heart tacosnose to tail cooking offal

Fleisher’s Cookbook

Been spending time in the meat locker and crawling around the cutting room floor at Fleisher’s, working on pictures for their upcoming book, to be published by Clarkson Potter.

Fleisher's grass-fed and organic meats cookbook
Sausage grinding plates

Butchers with Style

Two of my favorite people, Amelia Posada and Erika Nakamura, have finished their internship programs at Fleisher’s and are moving to Los Angeles to open their own sustainable butcher shop. In the next few weeks they are signing the lease on their building, getting married legally in Connecticut, driving across the country, having a wedding ceremony on the west coast, and opening their new shop, Lindy & Grundy’s Meats. I will miss them, but it is California’s gain.

Check out Amy Scattergood’s post on the LA Weekly blog (with more photos of Erika & Amelia).

Amelia Posada and Erika Nakamura of Lindy & Grundy's photo by Jennifer May

Elephant Wine & Tapas Bar

The Elephant Wine & Tapas Bar, in Kingston, NY, is located directly across the street from Fleisher’s Grass-Fed & Organic Meats. This is convenient as that is where chef Rich Reeve sources much of the meat on his menu. He buys the inexpensive cuts and turns them into adventurous tapas dishes. The menu changes regularly, but one night’s offering included beef heart tacos, lamb sliders, “porchetta” roulade, Basque style bbq lamb ribs, and crispy blood sausage. I spent an evening speaking to and photographing chef Reeve and will make a complete post later, but for now, one of my favorite dishes of the evening, bone marrow:

bone marrow as cooked at the Elephant Wine and Tapas Bar in Kingston NY

Pig to Pork

In April 2010 Fleisher’s Grass-fed & Organic Meats hosted a full-day class in butchery. Students observed master butcher Hans Sebold slaughter a locally-raised heritage pig at a family-owned farm in Stone Ridge, NY. Back at the shop, Joshua Applestone and Thomas Schneller, master butcher and CIA instructor, led demonstrations in pig butchery, sausage-making, and curing charcuterie.

I am not including the more graphic of my photos, but if you are sensitive you may want to skip this one.

Cupcakes in the theme of the day await the diners after the last butchery class

Butcher Blackout

In March, 2010, Joshua Applestone of Fleisher’s Grass-fed & Organic Meats in Kingston, NY and Tom Mylan of The Meat Hook in Brooklyn, took a group of butchers and friends-of-butchers on a late-night tour through Williamsburg. The annual event is known as the Butcher Blackout.

Butchers Joshua Applestone and Tom Mylan

Wild Boar Weekend (Audio Slide Show)

The folks at Brooklyn-based A Razor, A Shiny Knife (self-described as “an educational, social and theatrical culinary experience”) hosted a weekend event near Ithaca, NY in which guests witnessed a boar journey from farm to table. I photographed and captured sound from the all-day event for the New York Times. Follow through below for the audio-slide show.

Audio Slide Show on the New York Times’s site (2:14 min)

Shot for the New York Times’s Dining section
Food stories in New York's Hudson Valley and beyond from photographer Jennifer May