Photos by Charlie Miller
Ulster County’s pop-up butcher uses sustainable methods to carve up fresh local meats, craft nutritious bone broth, and utilize underrated cuts.
Foodies everywhere flock to the Hudson Valley for delicious farm-to-table fare. Local CSAs, creative chefs, and every business in between offer fresh produce and top-rated meats. With products this good, why should any of it go to waste?
“There’s more local farmers that are taking pride in their product. They’re offering more health-conscious, grass-fed, pastured product, at least where we are,” Charlie Miller, owner of Meat Things, says. “We’re lucky to be in the Hudson Valley.”
Miller established Meat Things in early 2021. He worked as a butcher for the past seven years in and around Ulster County. Kingstonians may recognize his skills with a knife from the Duo Bistro Pantry (before the restaurant closed and the space became Gráinne & The Market at Gráinne).
Meat Things keeps true to the most sustainable form of butchery and works as close to zero waste as possible. Miller only buys whole animals and uses his expertise to get up to 20 different cuts of meat from each one. He names flat-iron and bavette steaks as two of the most underrated cuts of beef a person can buy.
“The flat iron is the muscle attached to the scapula in the shoulder. Secondly, the bavette is cutting next to where the flank is, that’s more known to people,” Miller says. “What’s cool about the bavette, it’s like a skirt steak on steroids. It has the same texture, but is much larger and very tasty.”
Miller uses every part of an animal imaginable. For instance, organs have a plethora of applications. Once dried, Miller grinds organ meats into dog food. From livers, hearts, and kidneys, he crafts elegant pâtés and down-home meatloaves. His country-style pork and lamb pâté draws a lot of inspiration from traditional French cuisine. It bakes at a very low temperature, taking on the characteristics of a fancy meatloaf. Furthermore, the additions of brandy and fresh parsley make the whole affair decidedly European.
Meat Things also stocks a more familiar mousse-style liver pâté (made from lamb). Taking a culinary approach to marketing lesser-known cuts and unfamiliar products has been effective for Miller.
View this post on Instagram
In a similar vein, even the animal’s bones take on new uses. A recent venture for Miller, bone broth has become an immensely popular item.
“It’s something I’m a bit passionate about. I have a degree and background in nutrition, and bone broth is mineral-rich and nutritionally dense,” he says. Miller earned his degree from the Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts, an education that enhances his skills as a butcher.
In addition to selling bone broths at farmer’s markets, Miller also partners with acupuncturists and functional medicine practitioners in the Hudson Valley.
“The bone broth’s incredible properties promote gut health and are complimentary to their work,” he notes.
His staples for bone broth are beef and poultry, but he has experimented with other animals as well. Miller makes a ramen broth from pork or lamb and adds unique ingredients like sea vegetables, star anise, and ginger to really make any homemade ramen bowl sing. He can even make candles from tallow, or rendered beef fats.
Using the word “fresh” to describe the offerings from this whole-animal butcher would be an understatement. The lamb Meat Things sells at a Saturday morning market was most likely slaughtered on Wednesday, and butchered the day before.
Hudson Valleyites looking to stock their freezers with ethically sourced and ethically carved meats can find Meat Things at a few different places. Miller makes regular appearances at the Kingston Farmer’s Market and Woodstock Market. Once a month, he’ll bring his whole-animal products to shoppers at the Ellenville Market. He also has a Sunday market in the works, and looks to join the open-air setups at Germantown or Rosendale.
Meanwhile, Meat Things more permanently shares a space with Lunch Nightly on 636 Broadway. Lunch Nightly serves up fresh sandwiches and retail meats. The pair of businesses share more than just a roof; adhering to whole-animal practice as much as possible, Miller sources a lot of the meat sold in the adjacent storefront.
Miller finds all of his meats at New York farms. For instance, Kilcoyne Farms provides all of his beef and most of his pork. His lamb, meanwhile, comes from Meiller’s in Pine Plains.
“What I love about Kilcoyne and Meiller’s is they are both family-run. The cattle at Kilcoyne are grass-fed and kept out to pasture for the whole year,” Miller explains. As people turn to local products more and more, it’s important to know where and how everything is processed, he observes.
A big component of the Meat Things service is offering larger quantities to families. Customers can purchase meat in half-animal and quarter-animal amounts. Miller wraps custom cuts and vacuum-seals everything fresh. Then, families can fill their freezers with high-quality meat. This demand rose during the pandemic, when buying in bulk became a necessity.
View this post on Instagram
Similarly, Meat Things works with Village Goods and Coffee in Kingston and Arrowood Farms in Accord. Miller offers the same service to many local chefs. Soon, the Kingston Standard will top its pizzas with sausage from Meat Things.
“It’s cheaper for the restaurant, and more sustainable for the farmer,” he says. “Whole-animal butchery is the only way for me.”