The Nashville-based author and chef Matt Moore has always heeded an old adage: Sometimes, the best way to get a recipe is to just talk to your butcher. And in his recently published book, Butcher on the Block: Everyday Recipes, Stories, and Inspirations from Your Local Butcher and Beyond, he’s done just that. Moore traveled throughout the country and beyond, gathering tales, coveted family recipes, and expert tips from a dozen butchers.
Moore was inspired by his grandfather and uncle, both first-generation Lebanese immigrants and WWII veterans, who served after the war at their family grocery store and butcher shop in Valdosta, Georgia. “Just about everybody has a butcher in their family tree—my grandfather’s story was a portal to understanding the rich history of butchers in my local community,” Moore says. “A trusted butcher is vital to daily life—just like a doctor or mechanic. Striking up a friendship provides not only a connection to the community, but some delicious food to boot!”
During his trip to New Orleans, he met with Leighann Smith and Daniel Jackson, co-owners of Piece of Meat, a butcher shop and restaurant in Mid-City. After opening in 2018, the shop quickly became a neighborhood mainstay, “serving as a local heartbeat in a city that never sleeps,” Moore writes in the cookbook.
“Quality is a top priority,” says Smith, who is also the shop’s butcher. “The main reason we do what we do is to educate why people should eat local, from small farms—to know where your meat comes from.”
Piece of Meat’s menu features a mouthwatering collection of dishes such as Creole-inspired boudin eggrolls and fried bologna sandwiches with crispy onions, but, no surprise, it’s the meats that take center stage—the rib eye with blue cheese butter and beef-fat potatoes, in particular.
“There’s a reason the rib eye is the most beloved cut of butchers, because it combines the right mix of fat, muscle, and flavor to make it the coup de grâce of all things steak,” Moore writes. Smith takes it a step further, using tallow, or beef fat, which can be procured at any butcher, to make pillowy soft potatoes to serve alongside the steaks.
“Everyone has their own method for the perfect steak preparation, but I appreciate Leighann’s dedication to the black pepper, opting for a coarse-ground, almost brisket-like consistency to ensure you get that flavor and texture into each and every bite,” Moore adds. “The blue cheese butter is even more decadent.”
Pro tip from Moore: If you have some blue cheese butter left over, it will keep for weeks. Use it on the next steak night, or spread generously over warm, toasted bread the morning after.