And today? A stop at Marlow & Daughters – the little butcher shop on Broadway that was the first in the borough to throw down the gauntlet for good meat when it opened in late 2008. Today, the shop supplies Brooklynites with meats sourced exclusively from pastured animals on local farms, as well as providing the meat used at all of the restaurants owned by the Marlow cartel – Marlow & Sons, Diner, Romans, and Reynards.
We swung by for a chat with head butcher TJ Burnham.
OK TJ, what’s looking good today?
If you haven’t tried it, I’d have to recommend our beef jerky.
I see it says TJ’s Jerky on the label there. Is this your creation?
Yeah, it is.
So tell us about the jerky. How did you come up with the recipe?
I grew up in a rural part of northern New Mexico. Up in the high desert. We raised cattle and did a lot of hunting, so jerky was always something we were making a lot of. We’d make it with deer meat, elk meat – whatever we’d hunt, and we’d make it with the beef we raised as well. So yeah, I’ve been making jerky for a while.
The basic recipe I use here goes back to the recipe we used when I was a kid. I’ve refined it a little bit, but it’s definitely based on that old recipe I grew up with. I use some of the chilis from home – some New Mexico peppers. A lot of black pepper. Some salt. I don’t use anything like soy sauce and I’m careful not to over-smoke it or use or do anything that would mask the flavor of the beef itself.
The whole goal is to really highlight the natural flavor of this great beef we use here, and to accentuate that flavor with some salt and spices. It has a little kick to it, but nothing that would obscure the flavor of the beef itself. It’s all about giving honor to the animal that died so we could have this meat.
How do you actually make it?
I use the meat from the round. That’s basically the hindquarters of the animal. We cut it into strips. I rub the strips with the spice mix and let it marinate overnight. Then I’ll dehydrate it and smoke it. It’s pretty simple. The dehydration process really concentrates the beef flavor, and that’s what we want to do.
Can you tell us a little about the beef?
We source all of our meat from local, sustainable entities. We deal directly with two farms – Slope Farms and Kinderhook Farm, which are both upstate. We also work with a cooperative called Hardwick Beef, which sources from an array of farms in the region.
The only kind of meat we work with is 100% pastured, grass-fed and finished. No grain in the diet ever. The farmers we work with harvest hay throughout the growing season to feed the animals during the winter. There’s a real art to what they do, and we have a lot of respect for that here at Marlow & Daughters.
So how did you end up here, doing this?
I began cooking at a young age, and I liked it. And that’s why I eventually moved to New York, because that’s what you do if you’re from rural New Mexico and you want to cook for a living. It’s the mecca of food. I figured this would be the place to hone my skills and gain some experience.
I ended up working in a series of really meat-centric restaurants, where I did a lot of cutting. I had done a lot of cutting growing up, and I did a lot more in the restaurants I worked in here, and I guess I just kind of gravitated towards butchery as a result. When a position opened up here, I came on. Since then I’ve learned just about everything about the business and about sourcing that there is to learn. I love it here.
Last question about the jerky…What would you pair it with?
Well that one’s easy – a nice cold beer! [laughter.]
Marlow & Daughters is at 95 Broadway, between Bedford and Berry, in Williamsburg.
Photography by Morgan Ione Yeager.