Pat LaFrieda Shares the Next Meat Trend

We chatted with the New York meat purveyor about what's next in meat, and what his new memoir will be about
Pat LaFrieda Jr.
Jane Bruce

Pat LaFrieda cooked up this 876-pound Black Angus steer for 30 hours at this year's Great GoogaMooga.

When New York City's legendary meat purveyor Pat LaFrieda Jr. wasn't showing the crowds how to make the perfect burger at last weekend's Great GoogaMooga, he was slowly cooking an entire steer for 30 hours in the ExtraMooga section.

"Especially for GoogaMooga, it's really go big or go home," he told us, standing in front of a fully cooked 876-pound Black Angus steer from Kansas. "Someone just came and asked me for the cheek and I cut it out for them and they were skipping through the park, they were so happy."

LaFrieda may have made some vegetarian eaters unhappy with the display, but he explained that the next meat trend will be finding different cuts of meat, and eating the whole animal from head to tail. "Especially when the economy is terrible and meat is expensive, [it's important that] there are still inexpensive cuts that cook really well," he said.

So what's the next beef trend? "I think the front chuck is the most undervalued," he said. "For our entire history we’ve been grinding them, but if you prepare them in different ways, depending on how you cook it, you can make the most delicious beef dishes with it."

Some parts you can braise, while others you can grill, he said, like a new cut he recently discovered.

"I honestly think in the last couple of weeks I’ve developed a new steak from the chuck, from the front of the animal, from the chuck roll," he told us. "It’s about 20 percent the cost of the New York strip steak and it tastes just as great."

As for his upcoming memoir, the Meat Men star says he'll be telling the story of meat supply in New York City, and how his father played into the scene. "In the book we’re going to talk about the history of everything, where meat was from," he said, mentioning that in the 1950s and '60s most of the meat was from the black market.

"They used to rob the train on 14th Street like the wild wild West," he said. "The train used to come into the 14th Street market and that’s what supplied Manhattan with meat. They used to throw harvested cattle off what now is the High Line, into the street where guys would grab it and throw it into trucks."