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May 21, 2008 10:33 AM

"Have your butcher..." - Madison, Wisconsin

We're seeking to do more in-home cooking and save on restaurant bills.

It's a great opportunity to add to our home-cooking skill set.

Two instructions in a new cookbook had me asking "Where would I go for that?"

1) "Have your butcher set aside six pounds of marrow bones." - For making beef stock.

2) "Have your fish supplier save you two pounds of white fish bones." - For fish stock.

I'm seeking advice on shops that might be able to help me with this procurement dilemma.

The beef bones are more important than the fish bones. My thought is that when I find these sources I've also found a great butcher and fishmonger.

Finally, seeking a source for pork fat. Pure pork fat, not fatty cuts. Making andouille sausage and the recipe calls for extra fat cut into the grind.

Thanks in advance,

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  1. Wait until you see the prices for the bones. In many cases you can purchase the average cuts of beef/pork and the like for less.

    1. I agree that places that prepackage bones not cheap. And I'm sure some weigh and charge. Likewise not cheap. I'm not sure about Madison, but in Milw. I know a few places that for the regular customers, ie they recognize you, they'll hand over bones for free. In some ways, I keep frequenting this place just for the veal bones.

      On the other hand, I pay for the fish stock, at the same place : )

      2 Replies
      1. re: mike_d

        Moving to Mke from New York in a couple of months and need a butcher. Any chance I could get some suggestions in the area (will likely be living on the east side).

        1. re: WilhemB

          Sorry, just saw this, or would have replied sooner. I like the Sendik's on Downer Ave. All "Sendik's" are not created equal, by the way. Different owners. The one on Oakland, I don't care for as far as meat goes. I haven't tried the one in Whitefish Bay, but know folks who like it. I've noticed that things at the Downer Ave one have been a little different lately.

          for the so-called 'organic' meats, I use the Outpost Co-op. Here the selection of cuts is limited however. Let me know what you think.

      2. Find an ethnic grocer with a meat department. The Mexican and Asian stores in my area are more than willing to work with you when it comes to separating you from your money. The transaction can be a bit difficult because of the language barrier, but the discount is worth the extra effort. They also have spices in bulk that would cost you a fortune in a regular grocery store.

        As for your pork fat dillema, I think I've seen lard in the meat section of a few grocery stores. Lard makes the best pie crust when you are being decadent...

        3 Replies
        1. re: flavorfreak

          After I hit "send", I hung my head in shame about the beef bones.

          We buy a "half of a half" every year and I have the opportunity to specify, to the cutting house, my cuts.

          Now, I'll just tell them to leave me the bones in 4 to 6 inch segments. They'll be in limited quantity, and frozen, but I'll have SOME access.

          The question for later, after the frozen is gone, for my area remains.

          Thanks for the note about the lard, but that's different than the back fat I will need for my sausage.

          C'mon Flyover Land....I know you're out there to help me.

          1. re: Monch


            If you are in Madison I would guess there are tons of farmers who would be willing to sell you a free-range hog or cow that they will deliver to the local locker plant to be processed as you see fit. With the growing local food movement in the midwest, the number of locker plants that are thriving has grown, as have the sources for buying meat direct from the farm. You might want to find another family who wants to share an animal with you, or even three or four families. You can supply your needs to the locker and they can tell you what they can do for you.

            1. re: Monch

              Our regular grocery store sells marrow bones in and among the mystery/exotic cuts. I buy them every now and then to add gelatin to thicken beef stews. I don't think they're very expensive, but I don't think I'm buying anything like 6 pounds.

              Here in KC, if I needed 6 pounds of bones, I would start at Bichelmeyer, which is a for-real, high-volume, to-the-trade butcher shop. You should probably ask the meat processor that you get your half-half from if you can buy bones at other times of year. Searching on Google maps for "butcher," "meat processing," and "meat" all turn up options near Madison.

          2. Look for fish heads for the fish stock.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              Ask the chef of your favorite restaurant -- he'll probably be happy to get them for you from his supplier.