Eater Montreal contributor Joanna Fox recently sat down with one of the most notable chefs in the city for a special Five Days of Meat interview.
Name: Marc Cohen
Occupation: Chef/butcher/co-owner of Lawrence and Boucherie Lawrence
Story: The Lawrence team started making waves when they first came on the scene, pairing up with local watering hole The Sparrow and quickly introducing Montrealers to one of the best burgers in town, while also schooling the city on the proper way to do brunch. It wasn't long before they moved to their very own digs a block away, where chef Marc Cohen continued to push our culinary comfort zones with his nose-to-tail philosophy and unexpected cuts of meat. Earning both local and international praise, the Lawrence team decided to take it one step further and just a year ago opened their own butcher shop a couple doors down from the restaurant. Amongst many things on offer including farm fresh eggs, specialty products and produce, bread, butter and made-to-order sandwiches, they (surprise!) serve a stunning selection of meats. Their house-made lemonade is also pretty damn refreshing.
Philosophy: "By far, the most important thing to consider," explains Cohen, "is where your meat has come from. Has the animal been raised responsibly? Has it been fed real and appropriate food? Has it been slaughtered respectfully? And has the carcass been properly stored/hung after slaughter." Boucherie Lawrence takes all these things into consideration when selecting their meat.
Boucherie Lawrence Specialty: "We're quite proud of our aged pork sirloins. It's something you don't see very often," says Cohen. "The pork is so deep in colour and flavour compared to commercial pork. And when you hang sirloins with nice thick fat caps for two months or so, you end up with the most wonderful steak."
Meat Tip: "All meat improves with age, to some extent. Birds should be hung a week or so. Ideally it's a month for beef. Avoid plastic wrapped cuts of meat or chicken that have been sitting in a pool of their own blood," Cohen cautions. "If you're at a real butcher shop, the driest, gnarliest looking cuts in the display case are almost certainly going to taste the best. It's something of a paradox, but often the drier a piece of meat looks on the outside, the juicier it will be once you've cooked it."
Favourite Cut of Meat: "This summer, I've been really enjoying cross-cut lamb leg steaks." Cohen elaborates: "They have that tiny piece of ultra flavourful marrow and the muscle itself is perfectly positioned on the 'flavour-tenderness' trade-off scale."
Best Way to Cook it: "The grill rules in the summer. Two minutes each side is plenty."
Knife: "You know what they say about chefs and butchers with big, expensive knives?" Cohen asks. "We use cheap, plastic handled rental knives. As long as they're sharpened properly, that's all you need. There's nothing worse than watching a stagiaire bludgeon a bunch of parsley with a $300 Global knife."
Favourite Place to Eat Meat in Montreal: Maison Publique and Vin Papillon are Cohen's two favourite restaurants these days. "The menus are wonderfully written at both places, the food is exciting in its simplicity and the produce is obviously top-notch and prepared with unwavering care".