Great holiday meal ideas from a local butcher
We’re in the midst of the holidays, and if you’re still looking for last-minute inspiration for a great holiday meal, Jersey City has plenty of local grocery stores and stores to help you end the season strong. We consulted owners Will and Erica Messmer of Darke Pines—experienced professionals and home artists—to get their tips and tricks on hosting a meaningful, low-stress holiday meal and shopping local this holiday season.
First, get rid of the misconception that great ingredients have to be expensive, even when shopping last minute. Although stellar cuts take center stage in many butcher’s cases, there’s no need to waste your entire Christmas bonus on a holiday meal. Will Messmer knows this firsthand, as he runs an all-animal butcher shop that uses the entire animal, from nose to tail.
“Being whole animal means we have the largest variety of cuts available and many moderately priced options,” Will shares. He recommends Delmonico beef as a boneless alternative to an expensive rib roast, and chops and sirloin steaks as a solid alternative to filet mignon.
The secret to taking his favorite team home? Roast lamb or boneless saddle. “It’s very tender and has a delicious, fatty coating, and you can stuff it with herbs and aromatics, tapenade, sausage, or whatever else you want,” he says.
He also recommends trying shoulder of lamb this holiday season as a less expensive but delicious alternative to a leg or rack of lamb. Slow-roasted, they can produce a tender, flavorful, low-effort holiday meal (see below).
Second, buy quality ingredients. When you shop at carefully curated local stores and markets, you can be confident that you’re getting the best value for your money. It only takes a little work to make a quality cut of meat or a delicious vegetable, often just a little salt, spices, and/or some herbs. Choosing quality over quantity can help you save a little extra money and get amazing, delicious results almost effortlessly.
Finally, ask your butcher (or local sales representative) for his or her pro tips. Access to experienced knowledge and advice is one of the many benefits of getting to know your local expert and building great relationships that enrich the community.
Will points to other local suppliers, such as Scale Fish Market, as great resources for shopping locally. They do all the hard work (like chopping, cleaning, and breaking down tough, tough cuts) so you can take home the easiest, freshest, most delicious ingredients for dinner. Their expertise makes it easy to trust your ingredients while also supporting your local community.
“We believe that small businesses are the fabric of the community. They serve as common ground and bring people together. Small business owners are often our neighbors and sometimes our friends. “We know their faces and we know their names, and they have a dual interest in seeing the community thrive — for them, it’s personal Both practical,” says Will.
He and Erika point out a few other local shops that are a great option to support this season, like the aforementioned Scale Fish Market for seafood, Scram’s for baked goods and pastries, Dame’s for great coffee, and Feliz Deliz, whose baked goods produce Darke Pines that they even carry in-store . Of course, it would be a mistake not to include their sister shop Downtowner on the list, especially for the hosts and chefs in your life.
“Shopping with small, local businesses means a lot to Erica and me, especially food companies that source their products locally, care about the quality and provenance of their food, and value their employees. Shopping with Darke Pines, Downtowner, and other similar small businesses means you believe in the food scene here and want to support it. That you believe in Jersey City as your community and home.
Slow roasted lamb
The fat is carefully scored on the shoulder of a large lamb in a criss-cross pattern. Place the lamb in your largest frying pan and season generously with salt, pepper and paprika. Make sure it’s evenly coated on all sides, then drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, whole garlic cloves, and some fresh herbs (rosemary or thyme are both excellent options, but use what you have!) Cover and refrigerate, preferably overnight, until absorbed. flavor.
Roast the lamb at 325 degrees for 4-5 hours, until the meat begins to fall away from the bone. Brush the roast occasionally, adding a little water to the pan if it seems dry. Grill for a final 5-7 minutes until a golden crust appears, then remove the lamb from the oven and reserve the juices to drizzle on the side.