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Thread: Clueless butcher-shop newbie page

  1. #1
    abstractpersona's Avatar
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    Clueless butcher-shop newbie

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    Hey, hoping to get some advice from you veterans.

    There's a butcher shop nearby. I've got meat there a few times and it seems pretty good.

    They have bulk meat, I can get 70-something pounds of meat of my choice for 180 dollars with a 24-hour notice.

    I don't even know if this meat is local or how it's raised, but it's time to stock up on meat, so I'm going to give them a try anyway.

    I have some silly questions... if I become a regular customer, can I ask for the bones from when they butcher animals? And do butchers not sell beef tallow? One time I asked for some and they told me to check another time... One time I asked for beef liver and they gave me that convetional stuff you can buy at Walmart... they sell fryer chicken, six pounds... but I thought fryer chicken was a small young bird? How can it be six pounds?

    Umm... sorry for noobish questions. I guess I don't even know what I'm asking I think I'm subconciously suspicious... it feels like this shop, and a local animal farm, have been evading my questions, and they're my only two choices. Ugh.
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  2. #2
    BCingyou's Avatar
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    You can definitely ask for the bones but they won't always be there. A lot of places just don't have the fridge space for the not-very-valuable pieces. Some places just throw them away completely, I told the butcher last time that I would gladly pay a dollar or two a pound for bones and he said they would consider keeping them but for now they just pitched them.

    Yes fryers are smaller and younger. Six pounds would usually be a broiler, not a fryer.

    I've never seen tallow at the butcher, it takes a long time to make compared to lard and the demand isn't great. It used to be standard for french fries but of course now it's all "healthy" vegetable oils (read: not healthy).

    I've never bought meat in that kind of bulk but that sounds like an insane deal. You must live in the US because meat is basically never that cheap where I live. Enjoy it. Consider getting some of it ground if you can, easy to throw in chilis and stews.

    I'm no meat expert, interested to hear what others have to say.

  3. #3
    Finnabair's Avatar
    Finnabair is offline Senior Member
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    I agree the chickens are too big to be fryers.

    I suspect that this butcher shop is getting boxed beef and not whole carcasses.

  4. #4
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    Those chickens are small chickens compared to what we get around here! 6 lbs is the upper end of fryers, the roasters I put up this year are in the 9 to 10lb range. Even they are small compared to the 14 and 15 lb chickens friends of mine put in the freezer. Its pretty astounding how big a chicken can get. A 6lb white rock is maybe 6 weeks old, easily tender enough for frying.

    When I order beef, I specifically ask for bones and offal, and I list the offal. I tell them I want the tail, heart, tongue, liver and kidneys. If its coming in from the packer as an order, the packer knows to wrap them up, mark them and include them in the boxes. I asked for beef fat specifically, one packer put together about 30lbs for me, the other packer doesn't trim enough to be able to put much together. I'll have to render it down myself but I'm ok with that, its a winter weekend kind of thing.

    Farmers are a funny lot, they don't like tons of questions. Its not that they usually have anything to hide, but you're city-folk and they are farmers, and they'd just rather be let be than pestered with foolishness and nonsense. They don't realize that most people don't know the basics of what they grew up with, and the questions are genuine. Just ask your questions anyways, with a smile, and be patient, they will come around
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  5. #5
    namelesswonder's Avatar
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    This is a helpful thread. I have often found myself thinking since going primal and coming to this forum, "butcher shops still exist?" Are we talking an actual meat shop or just the meat counter at the grocery store? There's a Meat Shop (brand/chain) in my town, they are quite expensive and have some odd meats (alligator, ostrich eggs etc.), but I may inquire about their sources and if they have any grass-fed beef (or eggs!).

    I don't have the resources ($$$) to invest in meat from the people selling at the farmers' market unfortunately.
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    Corvidae's Avatar
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    I too have been tentatively trying to figure out how to best deal with local butcher shops. In SF, there are plenty that have local, grass-fed stuff, but we NEVER went to butcher shops as a kid (I dont even have memories of my mom even talking to the "butcher" guys at the grocery store) so this is a whole new world for me.

    I have been approaching the issue with my usual strategy: Research! More to the point, I have scouted a couple great books that talk about not only butcheries, but all about the different cuts of meat and understanding where they come from and how to cook them and etc etc etc.

    This booK: The Butchers Guide to Well Raised Meat is a great place to start. Its the story of a couple in New York who opened their own locally-sourced organic butchery and basically had to learn from the ground up. Its very straightforward, a good read (its as much a story of the couple as it is a story about meat) and youll be cheering along with them as they tout grass-fed meats and state that "Fat is Flavor". Also, amazingly, they were both vegan/vegetarian when they started, but that soon ended (their place is arguably the place where the phrase "Bacon: The Gateway Meat" originated.

    Another book that has been great for me is the River Cottage Meat Book. This seems to be less about butcheries but a LOOOOOOOT about meat and different cuts of meat and how to prepare and cook meat and etc etc etc. Its super in-depth, so it kind of picks up in a lot of areas that the Butcher's Guide only touched upon.
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    BCingyou's Avatar
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    Oh butcher shops definitely still exist, but it's kind of a leftover-from-40-years-ago phenomenon lots of places. I live in a Greek neighborhood and meat markets (the food kind, although they also have the nightclub kind) outnumber grocery stores 2:1 at least. I'm not sure the meat is great quality - it's definitely not certified organic or anything - but you will regularly see the workers unloading carcasses from trucks so at least you know it's not pre-cut.

    Butcher shops can be a bit of luxury these days though. I believe I posted in some other thread about running across a 1 pound steak for $39 in one butcher shop. That kind of thing is just ridiculous.

    Wow Elaine 15 lb chickens, I can't even imagine - how are you supposed to fit it in the oven?

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    JeffC's Avatar
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    There is one insanely expensive organic butcher about 5 miles from me, went there once and never went back because they had veal sweet breads for $20/lb.

    Just a few blocks from me is a very good Muslim/Halal butcher with every cut you could imagine, brains, offal, etc. and great variety, goat, lamb, chicken, beef, veal but obviously no pork. All their prices and listings are in English and the prices are very reasonable. I got a leg of lamb there recently and always go through for ground lamb or goat.

    However, there is a bit of a language gap as I don't speak Arabic or Spanish (one of the workers does) and I feel like I am missing out at times. I woud like to ask more about where they source their meat but believe I would not be understood.

    I also have heard various things about what Halal means. While it usually refers to a method of slaughter, it can also have certain quality implications but what exactly those are I don't know. Anybody have any tips for halal butchers?

  9. #9
    abstractpersona's Avatar
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    Wow, are those chickens beefed up with hormones or something? Never seen such monsters Is that some particular breed?
    We had a bunch of different chickens growing up and the roasts weren't ever that big. Our geese, maybe.

    I'm not city folk, I grew up in an island where 90% of food, including meat, came from the backyard or from the neighbors', and fish and seafood from the ocean 5 minutes away. Many times a year, we had butchering (lol) festivals and my little cousins and I worked on the meat after the adults did the bigger jobs.

    So even though I'm not from the city I guess I don't have experience wirh butchers.

    Corvidae, I've been researching for about a month about this. But when I ask questions from them I expect an answer
    That first book sounds like a great read, off I go to check the library!

    I've asked the farmer twice if I can get offal and bones, and how much meat I can expect to get from my share. Does 150 dollas buy me 1 turkey? 2? 100?
    I don't see how that's difficult to answer. I'm not going to give you my hard earned money without knowing what to expect.

    The butcher's shop is part of a family owned grocery store. The butcher's counter goes by a separate name. Other things that make me wonder if the meat is... mass produced (?) is that part of the bulk package is chicken nuggets. Eww.

    Wish we had ethnic markets here... :9
    Last edited by abstractpersona; 09-22-2011 at 01:37 PM.
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    IvyBlue's Avatar
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    I would expect a standalone butcher shop to be responsive to questions just because they know you could just hit Costco if price was all you cared about. After all, they want you to come back. They may not refrigerate the bones and trimmings but they do have value. I have a neighbor who's family has been in the rendering business for 100 years and it's been pretty good to them.

    The meat counter at Whole Foods said they would give me the trimmings off the grass-fed meat for nothing. How big a deal is rendering tallow? Pig fat I just threw in a crockpot and a few hours later it I had lard and crackings.
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