Don’t panic, but this month we’ll lose about 2 minutes of daylight each day. So make your grill time count! These Peninsula butchers shared their favorite new cuts of meat, and some old stand-bys, for a summer wind-down like no other.
This friendly new-school butcher shop in Redwood City has a cult following, and it’s easy to see why. RWC-raised butcher Bradley Ray Bain generously stopped what he was doing in the middle of a busy Tuesday to give us his latest grilling tips.
“Lately we’ve been selling a lot of a bavette steak,” Bain said. “I like to explain it as a cross between flank steak and skirt steak in terms of fat content and tenderness. And it has that nice heavy grain. I like to marinate it with salt, pepper and lime juice and then do a real quick grill on high heat. Slice it thin for a salad is really good, or a taco or just as a steak.”
How long on that marinade? “Whenever you cook meat, take it out of fridge a good hour or two before you cook it, just to make sure it cooks evenly. So what I’ll do is take it out of the fridge and marinate it while it’s coming to temperature.”
By the way, here’s how much Bain likes what Gambrel & Co. is doing with its grass-fed and Wagyu beef and pastured pork: he runs the butcher shop in Whole Foods’ regional flagship store in San Francisco, but he comes here to work on his days off. “It’s great to feed the community I grew up in,” he says.
Town & Country Village exerts a magnetic pull on Peninsula meat lovers, and this shop is the reason why. Like Bain, butcher Matt Prentice recommends the bavette for beef lovers, but he gave us his top pork and lamb picks in an email that reads much like a textbook:
“Coppa steak, which is a nice pork option that comes from the Boston butt (shoulder). Also known as the tiger muscle or money muscle, it is usually sought out by pit-masters to indicate a good pork butt. It is the best part of pulled pork due to its high fat content and natural tenderness, but this cut is even better if separated from the Boston butt and either cut into thick medallions and grilled quickly on a hot BBQ or left whole and grilled as a roast. Coarse salt and black pepper is all you really need for this cut.
“Lamb spareribs, cut from the breast section, is the lamb equivalent to pork spareribs. Great cut to grill on low indirect heat for 1 1/2 -2 hours. Great seasoned with a marinade of salt, pepper, coriander, sweet paprika, red chiles, rosemary, garlic, good olive oil, toasted cumin, and a little honey.”
Prentice knows his beverages, too. For the bavette he recommends a California cab or a sangiovese (“main component of Chianti and sole component of Brunello di Montepulciano,” he notes); for coppa, a Kentucky straight bourbon “such as Eagle Rare or Basil Hayden, either straight up or in a nice whiskey sour;” and for the lamb, a “crisp rose or fruity Beaujolais.”
Every week Mark Bubert breaks down heritage pigs from Llano Seco to make hams, bacon, pancetta and sausage, lots of sausage — 400–700 pounds of it per day. The recipes for Dittmer’s 45 types of sausages are all in Bubert’s head, learned from his father Dittmer along with his first language, German.
Bubert, a big rosy-cheeked butcher straight out of central casting, rattles off his most popular sausages. Paprika. Venison andouille. For Dittmer’s devoted (sounds like maybe obsessed) South African clientele, boerewors, with its trademark coiled shape and seasonings of coriander and allspice (“They eat it breakfast, lunch and dinner. They go crazy for it”). And the one everybody loves: Nuremberg.
“That’s the one,” says Bubert. “I remember the very first time I tasted it. It has to taste like that every time I make it.” Small and thin ( just a little longer than breakfast links), Nuremberg sausages are traditionally made with exotic combinations of seasonings like caraway seeds, marjoram, even mace and lemon peel. Bubert is coy about his variation, but it’s delicious. As is the Hanover sausage, made without the traditional key ingredient (brain) but sweet and addictive nonetheless.
Our recommendation? Have a sausage party — get a variety, load up on some of the krauts and mustards Dittmer’s carries — and go to Germany for the evening.
“Flat iron steak is excellent,” Dave Trevizo declares. We believe him; he’s been a butcher at Lunardi’s OG meat counter for 14 years. “It comes right off the shoulder, part of the crossrib. It’s a very tender piece of meat. I just do a dry rub on it — leave it on a half hour would be fine. I normally tell people to just butterfly it so it will be easier to cook.”
Flat iron steaks are gaining in popularity, as The Spruce explains, ever since lab-coated butcher types figured out that their brethren in the field can cut a tough piece of connective tissue from what has traditionally been a throwaway piece of meat and have a delectable little bit that isn’t too expensive. At Lunardi’s, it’s just $8.99/lb.
“It’s very versatile,” says Trevizo. “You can stir fry it. You can make stew, you can barbecue it as a steak, make stroganoff. That piece of meat is very versatile, and it is tender.”
When butcher and principal sausagemaker Jacob Jolley has people over and wants to make sure they leave happy, he throws a few cheesy Bavarian sausages on the grill. Sweet and smoky, they’re always a hit.
“It’s a pork and beef sausage that has cheese in it,” he says. “We’ll smoke it for two, two-and-a-half hours and then we’ll pull it out of the smoker and then pop it in the boiler for about 15 minutes and it’s ready to go. It’s $9.45 a pound.”
Jolley has the killer app for before the main event, too. “If I have people over I’ll get a smoked quail, and I’ll put it with smoked salmon and crackers and cheese. Then while I’m cooking I’ll set it out.”