George Faison at DeBragga

Posted on Mar 27, 2009 in Hiroko's Blog

Generous George Faison, chief operating officer and partner of DeBragga & Spitler, has agreed to supply at his cost the lamb and baby back ribs for the Jewelbako and Hiroko Shimbo James Beard House corraboration SUISHI! Dinner on ….

on May 11th. This Sushi! Dinner includes some delicious cooked dishes one of which will use DeBragga lamb and baby back rib. George also offered me a tour of his operation here in the Meat Packing District of Manhattan.  As you may know, the Meat Packing District is now the site of trendy hotels, bars and restaurants, but in the midst of this glitz several traditional wholesale meat companies remian. So, last Monday I visited George at DeBragga in the early morning.

In 1920s DeBragga bought couple of business properties from butchers who owned their shops just next to the elevated railroad that is today being converted to the Highline Park – probably the world’s first linear elevated park built an old railroad line.  In the past days slaughtered carcasses brought by trains were carried directly into these properties and were hung from hooks on a rail which was set in the ceiling at the entrace of the companies.  The ceiling rail continued deep into the interior of building and reached a room where the meat was broken down into smaller cuts.  DeBragga no longer regularly uses the ceiling rail system though it remains in place if needed.  George led me to the beef dry-aging room where all cuts of the meat are left for 30 days or more for aging.  According to George 30 pounds meat becomes 25 pounds after a 1 month of aging.  Aging concentrates flavor, aroma and improves the texture of the beef.  Aging of beef is not a popular practice in Japan and was not familiar to me.  I was curious to learn about this new area!  George also ages waghyu beef raised in Nebraska.  The mold (a good agent) that covers the aging meat breaks down the surface fat, preventing oxidation, and it tenderizes the muscle meat.  George describes the dry-aging process as similar to the fermentation process used for so many other foods. Here is a photo of George holding about an $800 block of meat……the story continues to next blog.