Posts Tagged ‘Dickson’s Farmstand’



May 17, 2011

MG rides his bike with two saddle bags strapped to each side. When he comes through the door after work and opens them up, an unexpected treat usually comes out. The other day it was a dozen t-shirts, today it was a whole red snapper packed in ice and last week it was a couple of sausages and a nice block of ramp butter from Dickson’s Farmstand. That ramp butter took the prize.

A ramp is a wild baby leek, indigenous to the New York area. Small bulb with a thin leaf stalk, ramps are cute and delicious. Chefs and food writers go hellbent for them during their short appearance in the early spring. A way to prolong their pleasant stay is to blanch them quickly, chop and stir into some softened butter, as the Dickson’s crew did. Store it in the freezer and you can unleash the magic for seasons to come.

MG threw the sausages on the grill and I got to work on a few side dishes with whatever was loitering in the kitchen. There was at least an apple and a cucumber. Though I am not in the habit of cooking cucumbers, I recalled a recipe that comes from Australian superchef Stephanie Alexander in which the cukes are sauted in butter. Having tried it once as written the result was interesting but didn’t really have any pizzaz. I thought that problem could be remedied by adding some more dimension; bright red freckled apple for sweet and sour, ramp butter for its herbaceous onion-likeness to go with the unusual juicy/crisp warm cucumber. It really came together, turning out just perfect to buddy up with grilled food.


1 crisp red apple such as Fuji or Gala

1 English cucumber

3 tablespoons ramp butter

salt and pepper

  • Chop the apple and cucumber.
  • Heat the 2 tablespoons of ramp butter in a skillet until foamy.
  • Toss in apples and cucumbers and saute vigorously for 7-10 minutes.
  • Taste for desired texture.
  • Season with salt and pepper. Taste again!
  • Spoon remaining ramp butter on top of warm cucumber and apples before serving.

Give me a braise. (PORK BELLY)

February 3, 2011

Step 1. Find a gorgeous pork belly like this one. (The butcher rolled and tied it which made for a lovely presentation.)

Step 2. Take a look at this entry on the 3rd Ward blog and follow the recipe which takes you on a journey through seasoning, braising and cooling.

Step 3. Slice and sear the belly and use it in a delicious creation, as we did in our Noodle Bowls.

Step 4. Enjoy!


Let’s have a roast. (TOP SIRLOIN AND MARCHAND DE VIN )

February 28, 2010

These days we see a renewed respect for humanely produced food, animal and vegetable alike. The questions of when, how and where did this come from are no longer smudged lines in a product’s history. And though it may seem like extra work to find out such details, I have full faith that some day soon it will become as commonplace as checking the date on milk. Whole, organic, grass fed, hormone free, non-antibiotic milk, of course.

So sometimes when I want the skinny on what I am putting in the oven, I wind up making fingerprints on the glass cases at Dickson’s Farmstand, located in the Chelsea Market. I started out as a neighbor, working a few doors down from these serious meat men and now we are friends, taking time to discuss dishes, the best cuts for the job as well as the various methods of getting a great product to the table. But this is not special treatment. When the lines queue up at Dickson’s, everyone is regarded as a friend and all of these fine points are regularly discussed with great care.

That is how I ended up with these two lovely top sirloin roasts, I needed a well-priced and flavorful cut of beef for an event I was catering. The beef was to be sliced, sauced (recipe below) and served over a bit of leek veloute, a roasted potato cake by its side. For portioning, I allow at least 1/2 pound per person, especially for a fancier dinner where not every slice is going to be gorgeous and plate-worthy (but definitely perfectly mouth-worthy). Several steps go into cooking a great roast. They are not complicated but should be followed well, decisions are best made in advance so there is no second guessing when time is precious.

It is important to take the meat from the fridge at least one hour before cooking to come  to room temp. This helps it cook faster, more evenly and more precisely but don’t sweat it if there isn’t time for that to happen, especially if you have a meat thermometer. That will really keep you from going wrong even if the timing is a little off. It’s the ticket.

Then sear. Do not be timid, get hot, get smoky and brown it up on all sides. After browning I use a spice rub, since the best method for this cut is a ‘dry roast’ and you want to get all the flavor you can onto the meat. I never remember exactly what I use but I am pretty sure it was a mild mixture of garlic powder, mustard, thyme, cumin, ancho powder, salt and pepper. That is my loose outline for a basic rub in addition to whatever is laying around and/or catches my fancy. Maybe a drop of cayenne, a dash of  Tony’s? Use your creative license.

From there, the following irreverant method works out great! A simple trick of cooking the roast high and mightily at 500F for 5-6 minutes per pound and then turning the oven off for two hours. Do not open the oven door, don’t even think about it. The beef will be a perfect medium rare when you take it out of the undisturbed oven two hours later. I really liked this style and it yielded buttery, tender pink beef. You can always flash cook it a little more at the end if it’s too rare but you can never un-cook it… so might as well err to the side of less-done.

More traditional methods (for medium rare boneless beef roasts) are quite varied, some cooks favor high temperatures for less time (400F / 10 minutes per pound) and others go for lower temps for longer periods of time (300F / 20-22 minutes per pound). The most important step is to consult an instant read thermometer after the first 45 minutes of cooking and every 20 or so thereafter to get the temperature spot on. There are so many variations to be had, it really is best to use the thermometer in combination with your intuition because who knows how wacky your oven is, how the shape of the meat cooks, the starting temp…etcetera. The following chart from is very helpful for getting it right, an excerpt from a post dedicated to top sirloin. Dickson’s offers this chart representing a variety of animals.

Below is a cooking chart for top sirloin roast recipe. Remember you should always use an instant-read thermometer to check the doneness of a roast. The internal temperature will rise about 5-10 degrees during resting time, remove the roast 5-10 degrees before desired doneness.

Doneness Description Meat Thermometer Reading
Rare Red with cold, soft center 125-130 degrees
Medium-Rare Red with warm, somewhat firm center 135-140 degrees
Medium Pink and firm throughout 140-150 degrees
Medium-well Pink line in center, quite firm 150-155 degrees
Well-done Gray-brown throughout and completely firm 160-165 degrees

When cooked to desired doneness (accounting for the 5-10 degrees of carryover cooking), it is mandatory to let the meat rest for about 15 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to be reabsorbed and redistributed into the meat and not be lost with the first cut. Ok! Now you have the earned the right to slice up your materpiece and enjoy. The following recipe is an awesome and easy sauce. Marchand de Vin (Winemerchant’s Sauce) goes exceptionally well almost any grilled or roasted beef, a great acidic kick to cut through the rich flavors of well-raised meat.


(adapted from The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander)

1/2 cup shallots, minced

1 tablespoon sherry or sherry vinegar

1/2 cup red wine

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

juice of 1 lemon

pan juices from cooked meat (optional)

6 tablespoons of butter, cut into pieces

salt and cracked black pepper

  • Place first four ingredients in a pan and reduce liquids until the almost gone, but shallots are still moist.
  • Add parsley, lemon juice and meat juices, if using. And stir in butter until just melted.
  • Season with salt and pepper.


Fat New Year. (POPOVERS)

February 20, 2010

First morning of the year I made something I had been thinking hilarious for a while. A king-sized, over the top power brekkie I referred to in my head as the Elvis Popover. A popover is somewhat half biscuit, half inflated pancake. The eggy batter gets huge in the oven, full of nothing but its own hot air. Elvis enters the kitchen with his legendary love of the peanut butter, banana and bacon combo, a square meal if I’ve ever seen one and maybe the perfect candidate to fill the void (and cure the hangover) on this festive morning, 2010. Trashy though it may sound, with the ingredients upgraded to a food snobbery quality, it was pretty fantastic. I would do it all again even if one short week later wasn’t the King’s 75th birthday.

The base was inspired by my friend Megz, who had recently made a batch of gluten-free popovers for an afternoon gathering. Quite impressively, she took this recipe, plain as day, and swapped out all-purpose flour for spelt flour (1:1) to excellent results, pleasing immensely the guest who didn’t go that way. The melting butter and honey over the airy and dense pastry was ridiculously good and got me thinking of all the things one can put in the empty space that is the heart of a popover.

For this version, homemade peanut butter* consisted of honey roasted peanuts and almonds, the first layer on the split popover. Piled on top was bacon acquired from the kind, meat-loving hands of friends at Dickson’s Farmstand, which I like to cook -mess free- in the oven, intertwined with your everyday unlocal bananas. This heap was coated in raw honey from Clermont, NY. The jar reads ‘produced by the bees of Ray Tousey’ and every time I eat it I feel like I am being introduced to the honey and it is awesome. We can be friends with food.

Happy New Year! …it’s still new.


2 eggs

1 cup milk

1 cup flour

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Preheat oven to 450 F. With butter, grease a muffin pan that makes (6) large muffins.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients until smooth.
  • Pour batter into muffin cups filling 1/2 – 1/3 of the way up.
  • Bake at 450 F for 20 minutes, then lower the temp to 350 F for another 20 minutes.
  • When the popovers come out of the oven, make a small slit the top to let off some steam.
  • Make an Elvis special out of them or don’t! Enjoy.

Though they are best straight from the oven, remaining popovers can be reheated at any hour for days to come. They won’t do any  science magic like swell up again but keep them in the oven until crisp on the outside and heated through. They will have great flavor and texture, just about begging for your jam and butter, or savory stuff like cheese or ham. Teatime!

* Process the nuts until smooth and peanut-buttery, you can fold in some coarsely chopped nuts afterwards if you are feeling chunky. I kept it smooth like Elvis’ early years.



November 2, 2009


Making pulled pork is an undertaking of time and faith but, really, not all that much work. It starts with the shoulder cut of pork, which may need a minute of explanation. The shoulder is the front leg of the pig and it consists of two halves; the butt or Boston butt, which is the upper section and the lower called picnic shoulder or, worse yet, the picnic ham, though it is not really a ham*, just as the top half is not really a butt. Shoulder (which is the important word to remember when the desire to pull pork arises) can be purchased whole, with these two cuts attached to each other, or separately. On average, the cuts weigh between 6 and 10 pounds each, but in the photos you see here, we are working with 19 pounds of butt and a 16 pound picnic shoulder. The butcher at Dickson’s Farmstand had these enormous and subsequently delicious Berkshire pigs and I did purchase a whole shoulder but asked that he divide it for me since my home oven is only a standard size. Nonetheless, the two pieces were crammed in, touching the top of the oven, almost the bottom and each other in the middle while stacked on the two shelves. This caused no harm/problems when cooking but it was certainly the first leap of faith.

The second leap was trusting my oven to maintain the temperature of 325 degrees for almost 10 hours. I checked in on it every few hours and in the beginning made sure that the meat had enough liquid in the roasting dish so it would not burn. I used two cups of water per pan and then covered each with foil for the duration. I took some advice to use a bit of cider vinegar which was admittedly delicious but made the house smell like hot vinegar for so many hours that I would not like to repeat that experience. Anyway, pretty soon after the cooking starts, the meat releases its own (fat) juices and keeps itself safe and basted and delicious and fantastic.


Once you have figured what kind of seasonings you want to put on your shoulder and how long you’ll need to cook it, it is as good as done. For ‘marinating’ I put 1/2 of my spice rub on the pork the day before, and another coat just before cooking. If there is any to spare I either dump it in the barbecue sauce that accompanies the finished pork, or save it to dump into some other dish. A spice rub is a flexible ingredient and hard to get wrong. For starters, try a tablespoon each of brown sugar, mustard powder, ancho powder, garlic powder, onion powder mixed with two tablespoons each of kosher salt, pepper and paprika. There is no exact formula really, I just add and taste and add and taste. (I would even triple or quadruple this formula so as not to run short.) We have accumulated a great collection of dried spice powders, many from Kalustyan’s, so it is a great opportunity to use them for extra flare. It could be anything from dried Greek oregano to chipotle powder, Creole seasoning or a badass dash of jalapeno powder.


Once dusted up, it really helps to take the meat from the fridge at least 1/2 hour before placing it in the oven for even and accurate cooking. This also gives you a good head start to preheat and make sure your oven will keep a steady temperature. I am a huge fan of an oven thermometer, I keep it in there all the time, just to be sure. An easy formula for timing the pork is approximately 40 minutes per pound at 300 F. I have had success with it, though I am not afraid to creep the oven up to 325 and shave a few hours off of the process, especially when undertaking those giant pieces. In this case I have no neat formula but it is pretty easy to eyeball when the bones pull easily away from meat, perfectly clean, it is ready. If I had to guess I would say something like 30 minutes per pound @ 325 F. The internal temperature (of the meat) will be somewhere between 185 and 195 F but to know that exact info necessitates another type of thermometer, one may or may not have stocked in the kitchen. After removing the entirely cooked meat from the oven, just let it sit there (covered) for an hour or so before pulling it.


The next step is to hand-shred the pork into a clean container (it will fall apart so easily, it practically pulls itself) and then strain a quart or two of the juices to pour over for keeping the meat moist. The liquid is pretty fatty so you may want to cool the strained portions and scoop the fat off of the top before mixing it with the pork. Barbecue sauce would be my next suggestion. It is a subject of controversy with barbecue people all over the country. Everyone has their preferred style whether jarred or home made, sweet or spicy, vinegary or ketchup-based. No need to get pushy here, save it for the ball game and just use your favorite. I go for a spicy, vinegary sauce with a little touch of sweet but either way, it is a good idea to put a light coat over the pork now and drown it later on your plate or sandwich or whatever.


*A ham as we know it is the back leg, by the way.