by Linda Viertel
“Everything that happens here is an effort to utilize the whole animal,” said Matt Campbell, owner of Campbell Meats Butchery + Charcuterie in Dobbs Ferry, which opened on August 2.
And, he means it.
Campbell and his co-butcher, Darin Theuret, whom he met when both fabricated meats at the famed Harlem Shambles butcher shop, prepare cuts of beef, pork and lamb from Hudson Valley farms. They work from half a cow, delivered every Tuesday and Friday, with pigs delivered on Wednesdays, all from high-quality artisanal purveyors. And, watching their expertise is a unique opportunity in a food world that is only now returning to the ancient art of butchering and in-house curing.
Since ½ an animal weighs 350 pounds, it arrives at the shop in four pieces. Then Campbell and Theuret go to work on the cow in the right order. “What’s in the case today might be different from what’s in the case tomorrow,” he said. “There are lots of great steaks on an animal other than the usual T-bone, strip steak choices.” Campbell would like his customers to try new cuts, like the flavorful merlot steak, but there are only two on the ½ animal. So, if someone beats you to it, try the bistro steak, a “knuckle” (really a quadricep) – one of four muscles, or a flatiron – a tender cut shoulder blade, or a navel roast – the cow breast cut which, if it doesn’t sell, Campbell brines to make his own pastrami. There’s also a Denver steak: “Beautiful,” he notes, “It’s out of the shoulder. Roast it like regular steak or braise it. Ranch steak, also from the shoulder, is lean and with a super beefy meat flavor, intense but without the extreme cost of a filet.” Specialty cuts include tongue, liver and oxtail.
Campbell also makes his own pates, beef /bacon burgers, brisket, headcheese and beef jerky, plus, he grinds fresh hamburger and meatballs daily. Everything is done in-house. Watching Campbell and Theuret deftly wield their knives with the dexterity and ease of true artisans makes one realize what a lost art butchering has become.
“The small farmers we work with,” explained Campbell, “for them to stay in business, and to have access to quality animals, sustainably raised and well cared for, we have to take the whole animal.”
So that means cured meats have become another signature offering at Campbell’s. “It’s the final frontier against meat going bad,” he noted. “Traditionally, a farm family couldn’t eat a whole pig, for instance, so they would eat what was fresh; smoke, then dry cure to stabilize the meat and get them through the winter.” There was a seasonality to the process, usually begun in the fall.
Fresh sausages at Campbell’s include hot or sweet Italian, chorizo, breakfast, the Joe Biden (a signature favorite), and merguez – a delectable spicy lamb selection. Dry-cured saucisson sec and chorizo sold out in one day, so now Campbell is curing more in his curing case. He also offers soppressato, ‘nduja – a spicy spreadable Calabrian style salami, and caccaterini – a small spicy Italian salami. In addition to the salamis, ground meat placed into casing, Campbell also prepares “whole muscle” salumes such as bresaola, a ham fiocco, capicola, and lonza–air-dried pork loin placed in beef casing. Campbell’s salumes may take two to three months to cure.
Fazio Farms (Modena, NY) provides organic chickens raised on hormone/antibiotic-free feed, in addition to fresh eggs and burrata. Beef and lamb are raised at Arcadian Pastures (Sloansville, NY), and pork comes from Meili Farm (Amenia, NY) plus Raven and Boar (East Chatham, NY).
Seasonal produce fills wooden boxes outside the shop, all from Hanover Hilltop Farm. Depending upon seasonality, customers can shop at Campbell’s mini-farmer’s market and find fresh corn, sungold cherry tomatoes, potatoes, beets, squash – whatever has been delivered that week. High-quality pantry items, such as Chef Joy’s Mustard, artisanally crafted salts and pastas complement Campbell’s offerings.
Where else in Westchester can one purchase smoked lard or ham hocks smoked in-house? Chicken liver pate or a short rib based terrine may be on hand depending upon what is supplied and what has already been sold. Even dogs can have an artisanal treat at Campbell’s: dehydrated pig skin chew toys look delectable for the canine you love.
Campbell moved to Westchester two years ago with his then- sommelier wife Kristie, to start a family. Now, he has a 6-month old and a new business exactly where he hoped to be: in Dobbs Ferry, where he says, “ Residents are thoughtful about food.” While gently nudging rivertown residents toward the unfamiliar, Campbell has created a very familiar, hands-on butcher shop where tradition meets the 21st century – urging customers to go back to our roots. If you are yearning for something other than shrink-wrapped, flavor-challenged, pre-cut meat and poultry, visit Campbell’s. The friendly service, new taste experiences, and camaraderie will make all the difference in preparing your next meal.
If You Go:
3 Cedar Street, Dobbs Ferry
Hours: Tues.-Fri.: 12-8 p.m.
Sat.-Sun.: 12-6 p.m.