America's Best Butchers Talk Shop
The Lobels have been selling top-quality meat to celebrities like Jackie O and Calvin Klein for generations. At work on their eighth cookbook, about pairing meat and wine, they give F&W an exclusive first look at their best, most wine-friendly recipes.
"I started out delivering orders by bicycle," says Stanley Lobel, now 68, remembering his first job at Lobel's Prime Meats, his family's luxe butcher shop on Manhattan's Upper East Side. "But I walked to the Onassises'—they lived around the corner—unless Jackie came into the store with her face hidden under a big hat." Now, famous customers of Lobel's include Calvin Klein and David Letterman (who features the store in the "Know Your Cuts of Meat" segment on his show). But you don't have to be a celebrity to get some great extras. Like all good butchers, the Lobels offer their recipes to any customer who wants them; they're also generous with kitchen tips. They'll tell you that a steak should be kept at room temperature for half an hour before seasoning and that pot roast is most tender after at least a day in the fridge. They've shared their wisdom in seven cookbooks; their next one, which is due out next fall, will focus on pairing meat and wine.
For the recipes here, F&W's exclusive first look at the forthcoming cookbook, the Lobels were inspired by classic European dishes, many of which call for wine in cooking. "Meat was tougher 50 years ago, so wine was used to help break down the fibers and make it more tender," Stanley explains. Some of the dishes appear at Lobel family get-togethers, which take place regularly at Stanley's country house in upstate New York. On his last birthday, Stanley's grandson, Brian, 11, requested the succulent lamb rolls stuffed with pancetta; a Montepulciano from Italy's Abruzzi region helps bring out the tanginess in the tomato sauce. A lively Aragonez, a Portuguese red wine, heightens the flavors of the Iberian-inspired spicy pork-and-kale stew with cockles. While these dishes work well with wine, Stanley has an unusual pairing that he offers his guests well into the last beautiful days of October: grilled Lobel's beef hot dogs and New York State Pinot Noir.