Michael Cirino Wanted to Butcher Himself Out of A Whole Steer for Meatopia

Mike Cirino, culinary madman
Mike Cirino, culinary madman

You might have heard of Michael Cirino, the culinary mastermind behind A Razor, A Shiny Knife, after his infamous L train luncheon landed on the pages of The New York Times. Now he's trying something equally as crazy: cooking an entire steer whole for the upcoming fat man's Woodstock known as Meatopia. We decided to call up Cirino and find out what the hell he was thinking when he signed up for this task.

First of all, how did this idea get started?

The idea came from a mildly inebriated conversation I had with Josh Ozersky at Marc Forgione in February. We were there with Marc and Josh brought up that he wanted to do something really crazy for Meatopia. I suggested we roast an entire cow and I butcher myself out of it Houdini-style. I would get in a clean suit and they would roast the entire animal and then wrap it around me. After that, I would slowly butcher myself out of it and throw chunks of meat to people and that's how we would serve the thing. Turns out that just wasn't possible.

How big is the animal going to be?

It's going to be about 400 to 500 pounds per side [around 850 pounds total], hanging weight. You've got to remember that just getting an entire steer into New York City is a huge ordeal. That's one of the reasons we weren't able to use a buffalo. We went over to Pat [LaFrieda] and Mark [Pastore] over at LaFrieda Meats and they were able to get us a steer. It's kind of a difficult process because normally meat is sold in quarter cows, and quarter cows still weigh a couple of hundred pounds. So we're not exactly sure what this process is going to look like.

How are you going to prepare it?

We're going back and forth between a couple different processes. It seems like the most delicious way to do it would be in a Caja China box, which is basically like a big braising pit that's portable. Pat has been in talks with Caja China to build a custom box for us. Another option is just making a pit for the whole thing and roasting it over it with a custom device I'm designing that would marinate it while it's roasting. But it seems like the Caja China box, especially with such a thick piece of meat, would make for the most tender and delicious beef.

How much meat are you going to get out of it?

When you roast a pig, it's about a person per pound of pig. I don't really know how much meat is on one of these whole steers; Mark and Pat would know more about that, but I assume we'll be able to feed about 500 or more people with it.

How the hell are you going to get the thing to Meatopia?

I know that we've reserved a couple of forklifts. We are also going to be designing custom lifting equipment. I'm guessing we're going to move it in a refrigerated van and then we'll lift it out with a forklift, unless a few burly chefs want to give it a whack.

Good luck, you're going to need it.

Meatopia Pier 5, Brooklyn Bridge Park July 23, 5:30 p.m. Tickets still available here.


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