The 10 Best Tips for Shopping for Meat, According to Butchers

Shopping for meat within the grocery retailer can churn up numerous questions: Does this look proper? Where did it come from? Has it been frozen? Do I’ve to prepare dinner it instantly? Um, how do I prepare dinner it?

Most of the time, I’m too intimidated to ask the professionals within the white lab coats for the solutions, so I often simply go along with my intestine and get out. Or, at the very least, that used to be my technique — till I visited a neighborhood butcher in New York City for the primary time final 12 months. Jen Prezioso, co-owner of Albanese Meats and Poultry, was so educated and heat (all whereas wielding a large cleaver!) and she or he helped me to really feel like much less of a meat beginner. (We ought to all really feel so empowered whereas shopping for meat!)

Ever since, I’ve made it a degree to assist native butcher outlets in my neighborhood. Feeling impressed by my meat-shopping adventures, I reached out to seven butchers throughout the nation for their professional suggestions. Here’s how to be sure you’re choosing out the perfect meat — and getting essentially the most bang for your buck.

This may sound apparent, however that’s why it’s on the highest of the record. “When choosing between packages of meat, look for the most recent date on the label (the fresher, the better). Just make sure the tray isn’t filled with juices.” says Monica Rocchino, proprietor of The Local Butcher Shop in Berkeley, CA. If you do buy meat that’s somewhat older (it’s not preferrred if everyone seems to be shopping for the brand new stuff and leaving the older stuff!), freeze it as quickly as you get residence to lock in freshness. This will even purchase you extra time to determine the way you need to put together it.

To supply the perfect meat, most butchers I talked to suggest in search of out native companies that companion with close by farms. “The shorter the distance between the butcher shop and the farm, the better the meat, generally,” says Corrie Cook of Smoking Goose in Indianapolis.

A common rule of thumb: “It’s better to buy meat that has traveled maybe 100 miles versus 1000 miles. This also keeps the money in the local economy and supports local farms and slaughter houses,” says Jamie Johnson of Bluescreek Farm Meats in Plain City, Ohio.

If you ever query the significance of being further picky in regards to the meat you purchase, simply comprehend it has an even bigger impression than you could suppose. Shannon Hill, the co-owner of Maine Meat in Kittery, Maine, says, “Whether it’s at a farm stand, local farmers market, or a locally sourced butcher shop, your purchase means a lot. Not just for the local farmers, of course, but also for the overall health of our ever-stretched food supply.”

3. Ask your butcher questions!

“If your butcher can’t answer questions such as, ‘Where is this meat from?’ or ‘How would you cook this?’ you should probably go to a different butcher,” says Rocchino. And it’s not identical to you’re testing them — asking questions additionally helps you get all the products the store has to supply, which incorporates data.

Don’t see the whole lot you’re wanting for? Ask questions! “What may be in the display case might not be all that a shop has to offer! Organs? Bone broth? Lard? Chances are a butcher will have them, but simply doesn’t put them on display,” says Hill. Simply ask and also you shall obtain.

4. Check for retailer cleanliness.

What you see is simply as necessary as what you don’t see — particularly when cleanliness is worried. According to Chad and Terri Knight of The Knight Butcher in Laurel, Mississippi, “Most meat markets are inspected only a few times a year. If you can see dirty, messy, things with your own eyes, don’t buy meat there. There’s simply no telling what you aren’t seeing in that case.”

5. Brighter meat doesn’t at all times imply higher meat.

“Some people think that the brighter or redder your beef is, the better it is, but that’s not true. When meat starts to oxidize, it turns bright red first before it turns brown. When I’m picking out beef, I try not to buy anything that’s too light pink or too dark,” says Jen Prezioso of Albanese Meats and Poultry in New York City.

The Knights had this one caveat to add: “Just because you see dark colored/deep red meat doesn’t mean it’s bad, though. That could mean that it has been aging, which is what makes meat tender over time. Ask your butcher if you’re unsure.”

6. Avoid slimy meat in any respect prices.

“If the meat (beef or pork) you’re looking at is really shiny or looks very wet, I would not recommend it. Sliminess or wetness is a sign that the meat is on its way out. Having an honest butcher is a good thing. I’ll tell people the truth so they come back for the fresher stuff the next day,” says Prezioso.

7. “80/20” is a approach for grocery shops to earn more money on chopped meat.

You’ve most likely been conditioned to search out floor beef that’s both 80/20 or 90/10 (the meat-to-fat ratio), however right here’s why that’s not a factor at some butcher outlets: “When I make fresh chopped meat, I use the whole muscle. A lot of people come into the shop asking for 80/20, but I don’t put any extra fat in my fresh ground beef or chopped meat,” says Prezioso. It’s truly a advertising and marketing trick that grocery shops use to earn cash off the trimmings. If you’re going to a butcher store, you’ll possible simply get common floor beef.

8. You don’t at all times have to get the costliest reduce of meat.

“The most expensive cut isn’t always what you may actually need for a recipe,” says Hill. “Would beef Stroganoff be delicious with a cut of tenderloin as the star of the show? Sure! But you could save yourself nearly $30 per pound by purchasing a crosscut beef shank instead. Yup!”

9. Organic certifications could be deceptive.

If you’re solely buying for meats completely labeled “certified organic” on the grocery retailer, do a bit extra analysis: “Factory farms can obtain Certified Organic certificates while still raising livestock in unethical and inhumane ways,” says Hill.

Hill made one other nice level: (*10*) That’s why it is best to at all times ask your butcher for all the small print on the meat you’re shopping for.

10. Seek out butchers who promote greater than uncooked meat.

If your butcher additionally sells cured meats, smoked meats, meatloaf, meatballs, stuffed roasts, marinated meats, and extra (as well as to the uncooked stuff), they possible actually know what they’re doing. “A meat shop that knows how to do more than cut is a good sign of a well-trained crew who like to cook (and eat) as much as you do,” says Cook.

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