MEAT PITTSBURGH


Sebak: We think maybe some folks
might appreciate a warning here. The following program
is about meat and interesting places
around Pittsburgh where you can find it. If you would rather
not be reminded that meat comes from animals and that meat
gets cut and ground, this might not be
a program for you. ♪♪This program is part of WQED’s
“Pittsburgh History Series”.
Two onion
and extra onion. One ketchup, onion,
and three — Sebak: Lots of Pittsburghers
to eat meat. People who have come here
from all over the world have brought recipes
and traditions with them. And in this city where people seem to appreciate
cooking and eating now, maybe more than ever, we thought
we would take a look around at some great
and delicious places where you can find meat, from fancy steaks
to all kinds of sausages. We’re calling this program
“Meat Pittsburgh”. And, of course, we know
we won’t get to all the local butcher shops,
meat markets, and restaurants that make great meat. Just a few. Sebak: We’re doing a show called
“Meat Pittsburgh”. Oh,
I see what you did there. What is the most Pittsburghy
kind of meat? You know, to me, and you can’t find it
much anymore, is good homemade kielbasa. My mother used to get me
chipped ham all the time at Isley’s. When I think of
a Pittsburgh meat, I think about hot dogs. I think about
original hot dogs. Man: Burgers. Burgers are our a favorite
of Pittsburghers whether it be turkey
or whether it be ground beef. Typically, Pittsburgh,
I think sausages, probably. Maybe from the Polish Hill
or something like that, right? Kielbasa and jumbo. I got nieces and nephews
all over the world — Navy captains or whatever — There’s no jumbo nowhere
but here in Pittsburgh. Obviously,
the Polish-made sausages, kielbasas, things like that, I think, comes to mind. Kielbasa seems to be the — I don’t know
if you call it “meat”. For me, it’s any meat
on a Primantis sandwich. [ Both laugh ] I think sausage
is pretty big here. I feel like it is, yeah.This program
in the NEBBY Series
is made possible in partby the Buhl Foundation,serving southwestern
Pennsylvania since 1927,
by Louis Anthony Jewelers,proud supporter of Pittsburgh
and its treasures,
by Huntington Bank,serving communities
since 1866,
by Levin Furniture,furnishing Pittsburgh homes
since 1920,
also by the Engineers’ Society
of Western Pennsylvania,
by Henny Henninger,by the Lincoln Pharmacy
in Millvale,
by Mancini’s Bread,by Pamela’s P&G Diners,and by all 1,411 backers
of our NEBBY Kickstarters.
Thanks to everybody.Sebak: Let’s start
in Westmoreland County on a foggy fall morning
on a farm near Latrobe. You might think
you’re in Ireland, or in Western Pennsylvania
a long time ago. 19th century and 18th century,
I would say, when it was a lot of
Scots, Irish, and Germans. There were
a lot of sheep here because they were
so easy to raise because of the grass. Sukey: Our feeling is
that the lamb tastes different different times of the year because they’re eating different
things in the grass — different grasses,
different weeds, flowers, whatever. Yes, because they graze
and they browse. John: And, so,
now what happens is we get these great
fall season grasses like this. They get kissed by the frost,
as it were, and they get — and the lambs
get fat and beautiful. And it’s all
because they’re on grass. Sebak: John and Sukey Jamison own and operate
this Jamison farm and they’ve become renowned
for their grass-fed lamb meat that’s prized
by many fine restaurants. This day, they estimated there were 250 to 300
sheep and lambs on the farm. A sheep is a lamb
over a year old. John:
So, those are sheep. So, the ewes
are the females and the old pronunciation
was “yos,” but we call them ewes. We’re bringing them over
right now to the best grass
we have left. It’s better
when they’re being bred that they’re
in very good condition. So, the whole purpose
of this right now is to get them ready
for breeding, which will be shortly. And then, in five months,
they have the babies. Sebak:
The border collie is named Mirk. John:
He’s getting a lot better. He’s not the best dog
I have yet, but he’s the most athletic. But he comes in too close. On his gather,
he was too close into them and he scares them. But, he’s getting better —
a lot better. John: Away! Away! We got our first sheep
in 1976, I think. And we got him and I did
4-H projects with the kids. They were learning
as much as I was. John:
We started raising animals
and doing the farm thing, about which we knew nothing. We’re English majors from W&J. I had a little
catering business, actually, and that’s how we started
with using lamb and using our own lamb
in the catering business. And that’s how we realized
our lamb must be pretty good. People liked it. John: Then, in ’85,
we bought this farm. So, we bought this farm because it was less expensive because it’s all hilly
and there were no crops here. So, it was —
but, it was perfect for sheep. Sukey:
Well, I have my warehouse. You can see
it is out in the barn. That’s where I do my shipping. These are lamb shanks. John: We started
a mail-order business in ’85 and based it on Omaha Steaks, but everything
directly from our farm. Sukey: We’re very careful about our processing
and our packaging because the meat that’s inside
can be beautiful, but we want it to be presented
in a beautiful way also. John:
And then, we have our own plant
in Bradenville, the other side of Latrobe. And we do
all the processing there and ship to restaurants
and retail consumers every week. Sebak:
Some of the Jamison’s lamb meat
will be frozen for shipping, but it’s delivered fresh
to many restaurants, including
the one called Whitfield in the Ace Hotel
in East Liberty. It’s a busy hotel kitchen, open for breakfast,
lunch, and dinner seven days a week where you may find
Executive Chef Beth Zozula prepping some
of the Jamison’s lamb. Zozula:
On our menu, it says, “fine purveyors of
Western Pennsylvania cuisine”, which I think is
an accurate description. We do pull, you know,
from the best that we can find available
in Western Pennsylvania. And we just started bringing
in the lambs, ducks, chickens. We do rabbits. Yeah, so, we do
all those things, yeah. We specialize
in whole animal butchery, which is, I think,
is something to be proud of. So, I feel good about that. Sebak: A lot of the butchering
is done by Steve Beachy, on the right here, working with Dan Rodriguez
on the left. Beachy:
We definitely built our menu around our
whole animal butchery program. So, we do try to use
every part of the animal. Famous for their steaks, they get a whole side
of grass-fed beef delivered once a week from Jubilee Hilltop Ranch
in Bedford, PA. Zozula: We used to get it
on a smaller truck and they would be
in smaller boxes. But now, the boxes are huge, so we’ve been breaking them
out of the boxes upstairs, and we’ll load them onto carts, bring them through the gym, depending on whether
we have an event going on, and then we’ll bring
the whole side in. We’re going to lay it out,
unpack it all, and do a quick breakdown. Beachy:
So, this is the whole side
of beef right here. This is the front shoulder
or the chuck. So, we’re gonna
take the shanks off and just split it
into more manageable parts. Beachy: From here through here
is the ribeyes. And from here south
is the short ribs. Zozula: And then, we’ll hang
that in our meat cooler. Beachy: The New York strips
all along here. Flank steak
is this muscle right here. This is flank steak. From that point, we’ll take those parts
throughout the week and cut steaks off of them. Beachy: This is the hind leg
or the round. So, you have top round,
bottom round, eye of round. We’ll braise this right here. We do,
like a Sunday supper, which is just, like,
noodles and tomato sauce, some sort of sauce —
meat sauce. A lot of times,
we use the beef shank for it. So, this part that
I’m taking off right here is the brisket, And we’ll turn this
into pastrami. I didn’t always eat grass-fed and then I’ve been eating
grass-fed steaks here. I can’t eat other beef. [ Chuckles ]
I tried recently and it was — texturally, it was —
it turned me off. It was weird. I can’t handle
the mushy beef anymore. [ Laughs ] Beachy: This is the last piece
and it’s all done. Could you grab the door? Sebak: Freshly cut local meat
can be an attraction. You know,
there’s a butcher shop, international grocery,
and restaurant on Penn Avenue near 30th
in the Strip District. It’s run by Abdullah Salem
and his family. Abdullah:
We pronounce is Sal-em. Everything’s been
all right with you? Yeah. All right, awesome. People say “Sal-eem”.
It doesn’t bother us. Sal-em, Sal-eem, Sah-lem. That’s no problem,
that’s trivial. Sebak: What’s important here
for lots of people is that all the meat sold here, in the restaurant grill
as well as the meat counter, is halal, which means it’s prepared
according to Muslim laws. Abdullah: Halal is what is
permissible for a Muslim. In regards to meat processing, halal is regards
to specifically how the meat is raised
and processed. The meat’s first priority has to be raise wholesomely
and healthfully. Second priority,
all the meat that’s slaughtered has to be slaughtered
individually, and one animal
cannot see the second animal being slaughtered. So, it needs to be slaughtered and blessed
with the name of God at the time of slaughter. Sebak: At the Salem’s Market
butcher shop, Abdullah’s brother, Abraham,
is in charge. Abraham: So, about two,
three times a week, I do this, where I pull out
one or two whole cattles and I break them all down
for pieces from our steaks to our stew
to our ground meat. And this all comes in locally. The meat here
is magnificent, you know, We like the fresh meat. Actually,
all his meat is fresh. Abdullah: I don’t know,
for me, the taste-wise, when you have local meat,
especially lambs — You know our Pennsylvania lambs
are the best in the world. The best thing is you can get
the way you want it. Like, you can have them
cut skin off, big pieces
or small pieces. Every week, I come here and most of the time,
I’ll have dinner, I’ll take dinner with me, and I come get
a lot of these oxtails because this is rich
in collagen. The big, big thing of
what we do is goat meat. So, we sell double
the amount of goats than lambs. That’s probably
our biggest product and probably why people
come here the most, is because we sell
fresh, local goat meat that can’t be found
anywhere else. I used to live in Shadyside,
I came here. I moved to Allison Park,
I came here. Now, I’m in Cranberry,
I still come here. [ Laughs ] So, this is
our walk-in cooler here. And on each rail, on the left here,
we keep our beef and our lamb, which is headed
straight down there. And this rail,
we keep our goats. I come to the Salem’s
to buy some meat — lamb meat. It’s like old-fashioned
butcher shop. That’s why I like it. I got some whole chicken and we actually got
some cooked food from the grill as well. It’s really good. Abdullah: Salem’s Grill is a place where you
get the best food and it’s kind of like
your mom’s kitchen. Man #1: Actually,
that’s where the food was good because the restaurant
is excellent. Man #2:
I love their chicken samosas. It’s perfect.
It’s really delicious. Abraham: I’m a burger guy,
hands down. That’s why the burgers
are good. [ Laughs ] I made them
so I can have some. Sebak:
On one wall in the restaurant, they have a big collection
of international currencies given by their loyal customers. Abdullah: I never knew
that this many people were
around in one place. And that — you know,
that’s America. That’s the beauty of America,
first of all, most importantly. And Pittsburgh, you know,
that we got all these different people
all in one place, everybody’s getting along,
eating the same food, chilling. So, good, delicious, clean,
the people are nice. The restaurant is
our biggest consumer of meat. We need them
and they need us. Sebak: This fascinating
family business began in a small shop in Oakland
in 1981. Abdullah and Abraham’s father,
Massoud Salem, opened a small
halal meat business and then, started
cooking leftover meat. Everything moved
to the Strip by 2010, and Massoud still works
with his sons. Abdullah: My dad is still here,
almost every day. If he’s not traveling,
he’s here almost every day. You know, today,
I bought 400 turkey. Today. Sebak:
Yes, at Thanksgiving time, Salem’s offers
local halal turkeys that they process through
Pounds’ Turkey Farm. All these birds, mostly hens, are on Pounds’ Turkey Farm
in Leechburg, PA. It’s owned and run by
two brothers, Rick Pounds… Very curious,
they’re glad to see ya. Sebak:
…and his brother, Tim. We check our turkey clocks at
least twice a day. Sebak:
And Tim’s wife, Beverly, manages the office
and the store. We’re probably best known for our farm-fresh turkeys
for Thanksgiving. And we do about
8,000 of those will go out
during the holiday. They’re all naturally raised. We don’t use any antibiotics. Beverly: But we’ve developed,
since the early ’90s, been developing
a line of turkey products. So, we have pot pie, we have turkey bacon,
turkey jerky, just all kinds
of year-round products all made out of turkey as well. Sebak: There’s no question. Thanksgiving time
is the busiest time around here. Tim: This is our second day
of processing. After the turkeys are chilled,
we put them on the line. We strive to have
a very clean turkey. Beverly:
They’re no salt, no basting. We just do the basics. We feel the turkey stands
on its own merit, just with the flavor. Tim: And the ladies,
what they’re doing is one of the hardest jobs
that we end up doing is getting the pinfeathers
out of them. Looking for feathers
and then I pick them out. Trying to get any extras that were left behind
yesterday out. See the little spots
right here? And then,
just take your tool, and push them out. Got to be a turkey lover. Beautiful, clean bird. Tim: Then, after we take them
off the line, we have a crew of folks that are checking them
for any blemish and then they place a giblet
in the neck cavity and put a bag on them. And from there,
they go to the scale, where they’re weighed
and priced. We vacuum the bag and clip it. After that, they’re dipped
in a tank of 195-degree water, which shrinks the bag. After they’re packaged, they’re put on these racks
according to sizes so that we know
where to find them and brought over here where we put the birds in here
to chill down and for whenever
we sell them out at the store. Beverly: Out of our store
next week for Thanksgiving, we will sell probably about
2,400 fresh turkeys. Been doing it
for 30 years now, I think. Woman: I was online
looking for fresh turkeys and this is what came up, so this is
my first time here. I’m really excited. Man: We actually
came here last year. So, just repeating.
This is a new tradition. Woman #1:
So, I got my 18-pound turkey,
all kind of sausages, beef pot pie, turkey pie, some turkey stock
’cause you got to make that — put that in your gravy,
you know. I just like their turkeys,
I really do. They’re fresh. Tastier, moister, depends on who cooks it,
but it’s tastier. We love their turkeys. I got a 24-pounder. Woman #2:
This is going to be the
first turkey with my mom that I’m making. I cannot believe it. And so, once you find it,
you’re hooked. There’s no better turkey. It is actually
the best turkey I’ve ever had. There’s a lot of people show up
in a short amount of time. Yes, sir. Tim: This time of year,
I’m pretty tired. Beverly:
Sometimes, I dread Thanksgiving
because it is so exhausting. But I thought, you know,
the name’s built right into it, to be thankful
and appreciative, so that’s what
we try to do. -Yeah, there you go.
-Gracias. Sebak: We’re thankful
for turkey anytime and everywhere it’s served. In Homewood,
you may see or smell the smoke from the sidewalk cookers’
Showcase BBQ, where Drew Allen grills up
a nice variety of meats, including an unusual cut
called a turkey rib. He also makes frequent, entertaining and promotional
Instagram videos calling himself
“The BBQ Bully” and “Big Blitzburgh
from Pittsburgh.” Let me show you
what’s happening right here.What it’s do, y’all.You already know who it is,it’s “Big Blitzburgh
from Pittsburgh”.
I got my BBQ Bully voice
in full effect.
What’s going on?The BBQ Bully is on the setdoing what he do.[Laughs]The BBQ Bully![Laughs]What’s up?Hey, let me show you all
these turkey ribs.
It’s the grill cam.Sebak: These turkey ribs
Drew buys already cooked. Some call them
turkey shoulders. Yeah, so the story
behind these turkey ribs is, a guy came up to me. He said there’s some guys
in Cincinnati He’s that’s all they do
is just turkey. So, I’m, like, “okay, cool.” So, I tried them. I took the turkey ribs
out the pack, I put some
showcase seasoning on it, heated them up,
tasted them. That’s one of
the greatest alternatives for people
that are non-pork eaters. Sebak:
But Drew and his crew take care of
the pork eaters, too. Allen:
Here we go. See that brown? See how that —
see that brown on there? You know, just a little char. This is backyard barbecue. This is northeastern
barbecuing. I’ve been here at this location
since 2008. I started in 2003
on Braddock Avenue. I first started out
frying chicken, fish sandwiches, burgers,
and fries. Now, we do ribs, chicken,
and sides. We’re kind of like a hybrid
between soul food and barbecue because if you look
at our sides — macaroni and cheese, greens, yams, potato salad, red beans and rice,
green beans, cabbage. That’s Sunday and Thanksgiving
and Christmas dinner, you know, with the ribs.Let’s take a peek
inside this rib grill.
Oh, it’s going down in here.Pork grill.Chicken and turkey
and beef grill up there.
That’s another smoker
in the back.
So we got three joints
out here popping it.
Let’s go inside, y’all.Whoo, the smoke.Let me turn this thing around.If this your first time
at Showcase, I always recommend you get
a chicken and rib, chicken and rib dinner,
two sides. It’s just kind of like that barbecue family-style place
you come to where everybody’s here and everybody’s comfortable
when they here.So, we in Pittsburgh, man.You stop one at my spot, man,Showcase BBQ,
6800 Frankstown Avenue,
you know what I’m saying?Peace!So, I just call myself
“The BBQ Bully”, you know,
just because of the fact that we sell a lot of ribs. You know, a lot of people
appreciate us. A lot of us say, “You know, you work
to try to be the best, and then people will tell you
if you are”. I’m just me. I’m gonna give you me
and that’s it. That’s it. Sebak: That’s a lot. People who prepare
the meat we eat often give us a lot. In Kennedy Township, there’s a small
storefront meat shop, where the Ricci family makes
a famous Italian sausage, starting early in the morning. Ernie B.: Charlie’s here
between 6:00 and 6:30. He starts to get everything
prepped for grinding. Today, we’re making
a batch of hot. So, the first thing we do is we’re gonna get
100 pounds of meat product out of our cooler. Sebak:
That’s all boneless pork. And Charlie Foley
knows what to do with it. Ernie B.:
Bring it up onto our grinder, grind that through. On an average day, we try and run
four batches of product because we’re making
a diversity of products, We’re making bulk.
We’re making patties. We make hot, we make sweet,
we make breakfast links, we make Italian liver sausage. We’ll get our —
a bucket of spice — handmade spices — we’ll actually mix it
in the bucket. Ernie Jr.:
I still make it the way my mother and father made it — all hand-mixed seasoning. Ernie B.:
And we mix every batch by hand, and that’s what we’ve done
from day one, when we haven’t stopped
doing that. That’s what makes us unique. Foley: It is a secret.
I don’t even know that. And I’ve been here
for four years. Sebak: The business is run now
by Ernie Ricci, but he’s helped essentially
every day by his parents — his father, Ernie, and his mother, Lillian,
or “Lil”. Lillian: I call my son “Ernie”
and I call my husband “Ernie”, but we call my grandson
“Ernest”. Ernie B.: We have two different
businesses going on. We’re producing on one side, and we’re cooking
on the other side. Sebak: Yes, while
the Riccis make sausage in one part of the building, just a counter away, they also sell foods
prepared in-house. Lillian:
Everything is sausage. That’s our name, sausage. Ernie B.:
I eat it ever day for lunch. I don’t bring a lunch,
I eat here. I make the sausage rolls. I make the pasta beans
every Friday. I make the lasagna. Ernie B.:
My grandmother taught her
how to make sausage rolls. We use Mancini dough. We get our sausage
and we grind it. We use two kinds of cheese. We roll them like a nut roll. Yeah, my mother-in-law
would be so proud. Ernie B.: Our pork comes
from two suppliers because we’re
USDA federal inspected. Ernie Jr.:
We don’t buy 200, 300 pounds. We’re buying
5,000 pounds a week. So, you got to give somebody
that’s supplying. and I’m going to stuff
this casing. And I’m gonna take it over here, and Ernie’s gonna
put it through the linker. Ernie B.: We run them
in a collagen casing, versus a natural casing. And then we take
the long strand and then we feed it
into a Famco Linker. Sebak: The Famco Linker, invented and manufactured
here in Pittsburgh, has long been a widely used
and trusted machine all around
the sausage-making world. Ernie B.: And my grandfather
had a grocery store. I was born in 1955. He opened his store in 1945. Ernie Jr.:
We lived down in McKees Rocks on Island Avenue,
McKees Rocks. Ernie B.:
That’s when my grandfather
started making sausage, in 1945. In fact,
one of my bylines I use on all my radio advertising is, “It’s what Pittsburgh eats”. Yeah, no onions,
no peppers on it. Holidays,
it goes bonkers. And if the Steelers
get in the playoffs…Oh! It’s just one playoff game that’s just, you know,
a 50% spike in our business. So, it’s all good. And we’re fortunate
’cause we have a niche. As my children
would argue with me, I’d tell them,
“I’m a boutique”. I’m a sausage boutique. I’m the Sausage Prince
of McKees Rocks. I’m just a peasant sausage maker
from McKees Rocks trying to make
a better life for my family. Sebak:
Well, we drove to Taylorstown
in Washington County, where another
sausage-making family — the Weiss family — makes a variety of meat products
at Green Valley Packing. The company’s treasurer,
Brian Weiss, says their business is unusual. Brian:
There’s nobody, that I know of, that does exactly what we do. Most of the manufacturers
in Western Pennsylvania are either smaller than us, none that are larger
or make more products or a more variety of products
than what we do. You know, we’re about
the last one left. It was my great-grandfather who started the business
back in 1924. And at that time, it was on Jefferson Avenue
in Washington, PA. My dad started
a little place here, at this current facility,
in 1961. Sebak:
In 1975, Green Valley acquired
the Albert’s brand of meats. That was my great-grandfather’s
last name. His name was George Albert. Sebak:
Brian’s nephew, George Weiss,
the plant manager, knows the company’s products. George: We make kielbasa, hams,
fresh sausage, deli meats. You know,
we make all pork items. We make some all-beef items. But a mix, no mechanically
separated chicken or turkey. It’s all pork and beef. Sebak:
But we really went there to see how they make kielbasa. Brian: Kielbasa’s made out of
pork and beef. It’s traditionally
a Polish sausage. Some people say kielbasy,
kielbasa. There’s a million different
interpretations. You can say it
any way you want. It’s basically
a smoked sausage with garlic. It’s very good. Our kielbasa,
we start with picnics and fat, and they’re ground for —
in the grinder — into a buggy. And we take our beef,
our water, our seasoning, and we put them
in a bowl chopper. And we put them
in the bowl chopper, and we beat it down
for 120 seconds, right, then we add the picnics
and the fat in, in the chopper, and you mix. We have some products
that are more beef than pork. We have a Slovenian, a Polska. We do skinless varieties
that don’t have natural casing, has a softer bite to it. Now, once their chopped and they’re mixed
in the chopper, it goes to our filler. And from our filler, it gets stuffed on a linker
into a casing, where it’s tied, it’s hung, and then, it’s taken
to the smokehouse. The freshly made sausages spend
about two hours in the smoker until they’re fully cooked. George: So, the kielbasa,
from the smokehouse, it sits for probably
30 to 40 minutes to initially
start cooling down. And then, prior to packaging,
it has to be below 40 degrees. Sebak: Why do Pittsburghers
love it so much? It’s good.
Kielbasa’s really good. Plus, you’re supporting
a local business. If you buy the Albert’s brand and if you like the way
that it tastes, you know,
it’s an excellent product. Good and good for you. Sebak:
And about once a week, the folks here at Green Valley
make hot dogs, too. Brian: We make both skinless
and natural casing, yes. Sebak: And to taste them, you can stop
just a few miles away in Washington, PA,
at Shorty’s Lunch, that was founded
by Greek immigrants in the early 1930s. Steve Alexas and his family have been involved
almost since the start. Green Valley
has been our supplier ever since I could remember. Man: I haven’t had
a hot dog anywhere else that are as good as these. I’m not just saying that
’cause I’m working here. Woman: They’re made for us
and it’s simple. Keeping it simple. Steve:
We use a beef and pork mixed. And I think it tastes
so much better than an all-beef,
to be honest with you. Woman: And they’ve been the same
since I was a kid. Man: This is the best one
I’ve ever had. Steve: We’ve been doing
something right, so that’s another thing. That’s why you don’t change it. Don’t fix it
if it isn’t broken. Man: Everybody comes all over
to look for them. I mean, we’re all over.
That’s a great thing. It’s old school and you won’t
find another one like it. Sebak: That’s a good thing. We want unique tastes
and interesting places, run by fascinating people, who seem to care about
what we all eat, and the variety
and the spices that are added, and the ways that
we prepare meats around here just help to make
this Greater Pittsburgh area an unusual and delicious place
to live. ♪♪ Man: You know, this expression
“Pittsburgh rare”? -Oh, yeah.
-What is Pittsburgh rare? Zozula:
Well, a long time ago, I was told that it started
in the steel mills. Guy would go to work and they would just take
a piece of meat with them. When it was time for lunch, they would slap it
on the hot metal, which would sear it on all sides
really hard, so it would blacken it, and it would be
cold and raw on the inside. I think everybody sort of now
has their own interpretation. We get a lot of
“Pittsburgh mediums”, which I’m always, like,
“That doesn’t exist. That’s just an over-cooked
piece of steak”. ♪♪

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