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Not Your Poppa’s Corned Beef

July 2, 2013

Man, it’s been awhile since I’ve gotten to write a The Good Stuff post. Not that I haven’t been writing about all kinds of good stuff. But I’ve made a pledge to chefs that I would highlight restaurants that were doing great things with truly special ingredients.

Last week I got to meet chef Heidi Hoyt, one of the co-owners of the new Park Side Eatery in Saratoga Springs. She and her husband Michael have created a kind of comfort food emporium. And there are a lot of amazing things that are going on within these walls.

Despite not having Jewish deli in their blood, they have a deep love and respect for this food that’s slowly disappearing across the country, and are interested in restoring some of its lost arts. And I can pretty much guarantee, you’ve never had corned beef like this.

There’s no better way to describe why it’s unique than in chef Heidi’s own words:

I’m very into humanely raised animals so I located ranches and a processor that use very humane methods. They have a meadow grazing life, they are finished on corn, they have lots of room to move around, and then the process of the slaughtering was designed by Dr. Temple Grandin. So there’s that.

The animals themselves are prime premium Angus, so all of the pastrami and the corned beef are prime.

Corned beef is brisket. These are full briskets and they are quite large on these particular animals, so they take ten to fourteen days to do this [points to a corned beef in progress]. This is a dry rub. Many people do wet brine. I choose not to. I do dry on just about everything but the tongue.

What happens is that the cells tend to expand as brining takes place, even if it’s a dry rub. And this [weighted down container covering the brisket] keeps that from happening. So the meat stays compact, but the flavor still develops. Once that’s done it’s half smoked. A half-smoke is four to five hours with hickory. That’s a hot smoke. And then it’s refrigerated and then the next day it’s steamed for four more hours. And then it’s ready to go.

Did you get all of that?

If you want the particulars, the beef comes from Creekstone, which took New York City by storm three years ago. But making corned beef from pasture raised, prime Angus brisket? That’s crazy. This was the food that my ancestors ate because they could only afford the cheap cuts that nobody else wanted. And even then, it was a splurge.

The one thing chef Heidi left out is that she doesn’t use any nitrates in the corned beef either. Which means that it doesn’t have corned beef’s distintive pink patina. But it is no less pickled, and no less delicious.

But it gets even better. Because the staff at Park Side Eatery takes this ethically sourced, time-intensive, hot corned beef, and slices it with a knife by hand, ensuring thick juicy cuts of meat that are every true deli aficionado’s ideal. And they use the only bread that is really befitting for such a special treat, Rockhill Bakehouse’s seeded Jewish rye.

A sandwich with a full half-pound of this delicacy sliced thick on some of the best rye bread in New York costs just $13. Is that expensive for a sandwich? Maybe. But given what goes into making this sandwich, I think it’s a steal.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

They didn’t have any donuts out during the grand opening party, but I’m looking forward to getting in there and seeing what they’ve been able to produce after all their research and development. And I enjoyed the pulled pork in the Carolina style mustard sauce, so now I’m eager to try the Texas brisket, which I consider to be a much trickier protein to barbecue.

Now before you run out and grab a sandwich for lunch, it should be noted they didn’t have Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray in stock, but I’m told that it’s coming. Still there are some great options to choose from including an amazing apple based juice blend from Red Jacket Orchards.

What is abundantly clear is that Park Side Eatery is a very special place. You Saratogians are lucky to have scored it in your backyard.

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For pictures, check out Deanna’s write up on the event at the TU Eat Local blog.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. albanylandlord permalink
    July 2, 2013 11:02 am

    Nice web site. For those of you wondering – like I was – It is at 40 Phila St, which is behind Ben & Jerry’s

  2. July 2, 2013 11:05 am

    This nitrite/nitrate free craze is media driven nonsense.

  3. July 2, 2013 12:50 pm

    GREAT write-up of what makes PSE so special. I linked to you over on Eat Local. I was too busy stuffing my face with the food to actually pay attention to where it came from, I guess! Thanks for letting me tag along as your sidekick.

  4. curlymoe permalink
    July 10, 2013 10:20 am

    For my first act of vacation freedom, I stopped in and tried a pastrami sandwich. WOW! The only downside for me was that it was just about at the limit of my salt tolerance. I know it’s cured meat, but it’s very salty. The texture was incredibly dense and the flavors really deep. This will definitely be added to my list of occasional indulgences.

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