Thursday, June 7, 2012

Now that's a brisket

When I first moved to Portland I shuddered at the thought of having to locate a place where I could actually buy a six- to eight-pound brisket. No matter who I asked the answer was always the same one word: Gartner's. Then people sometimes added, "It's out by the airport."

"What is a Gartner's?" I wondered.

I wasn't sure what to make of a butcher out by the airport. In other towns, meat spots near the airport aren't usually home to "choice" meat products. Though many things are not as one might expect in Portland and I needed a brisket. I called and was able to order a brisket, no problem. Smallest brisket was about five pounds. Gartner's: not messing around.

Got Game? Seriously.
Finally, the day to pick up the brisket arrives and I head to the airport. In the car, I consider making a few chickens, instead. Maybe lamb might be nice. Alternate menus drift in and out of my thoughts. Until I arrive at Gartner's. It's out there, alright. Not much by it. It's a rather non-descript red building - something that looks like it might have been built in any time period. There are a few signs that catch my eye. Initially, I think it's the old time style of writing, but on closer inspection it's what's on the sign that has got me simultaneously intrigued and scared. Wild Game Processing. Interesting. That's not something you'd find in New York - then again, not a lot of wild game hunting in the city.

Now, I can't wait to get inside. It's like a typical butcher shop only much, much bigger. People behind the counter are running around in white butcher coats. They've got the pick a number system, and there's a pretty gigantic walk-in freezer where I'm guessing they're doing a ton of well, butchering. Cases are filled with meats of all kinds and some prepared options, as well. Then there is the vast supply of meat sticks - pepperoni, chorizo - you name it, they've go it.

When my number was called my order was ready - encased in a plastic shrinkwrap, wrapped in Gartner's butcher paper. As long as I was there it seemed wrong not to leave without some sliced turkey breast and meat sticks. A sampling will do nicely.

Feeling elated that I have indeed secured a brisket and got a few extras I make my way home. I can't wait to see it up close. I get my pot ready and unwrap the meat. It's just gorgeous. Looking at it I know it's pretty hard not to make it into something delicious. Once it's in the pot, doused in all the other ingredients that's going to make this brisket taste like something out of my childhood, I set the timer and crack open the sliced turkey breast. How on earth do they make it so moist. I tear off a small piece for a taste - it's not wet, it just melts in my mouth. Scrumptious!

After hours of cooking, the brisket comes out perfect and when I serve it the next day (brisket is always better the next day) it's the hit of the night. The moral of the story, you don't need to go to New York to  taste the brisket Grandma use to make, you just need a solid recipe and meat from Gartner's.

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