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Butcher Suggestions

Can anyone suggest a good butcher? I know all the names, have some experience with John Dewar (although I find them to be d-bags) but am looking for someone that is reasonably priced and has a good selection.

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  1. What areas do you shop in? Are you looking for beef/veal, pork, lamb, various kinds of offal, rabbit/goat, capons, quail, kosher/halal, or sausage? Care if its grass fed and happy-crunchy organic, or just delicious?

    6 Replies
    1. re: grant.cook

      Live in Watertown, willing to drive anywhere within reason. Actually just looking for different cuts to make/grind burgers at home. I'm sure it's not tough to find, but in my experience with John Dewar, they were very unwilling to accommodate what I needed. Also wouldn't mind establishing a good relationship with a reliable butcher regardless.

      1. re: rchudy

        Have you tried the Meat Spot in Watertown? It's a fairly unassuming looking place, but I've heard great things about them. http://mymeatspot.com/

        1. re: nsenada

          It's funny, I've driven passed The Meat Spot a million times, and always forget it's there. Might have to give it a shot.

          1. re: rchudy

            I should have disclosed - I am related by marriage to one of the owners, though I have actually never bought or eaten anything from them (my mom has gotten some roasts from them but they make her take it for free, which made her feel guilty, which prompted her to go less frequently, which further perpetuated the guilt spiral). I have independently heard nothing but positive things about them, though.

        2. re: rchudy

          You might also give the Fresh Pond Supermarket on Huron in Huron Village, Cambridge a try. Prices slightly reflect the neighborhood, but still much less than Dewars. McKinnon's will cut anything to order and order things, but its a pretty hectic place where its hard to get a word in edgewise while they work. But as long as you know exactly what you want... I would actually put a word in for some of the meat cutters at Johnnie's -- value/quality can vary there, but some of the meatcutters are quite knowlegeable -- Arlington is probably better than Fresh Pond Pkwy, but the meat cutter there goes home at 5pm whereas at FP I believe they are there later.

          1. re: rchudy

            There's an Italian butcher in the North End that's well thought of, although I can't recall the name.. Tony's in Rozzie Square is good in the same vein. There is a halal butcher, Zam Zam Meats, in Norwood that does good lamb.. Savenors, of course in Cambridge and Beacon Hill, is great.

            For burgers, if you are grinding yourself, you probably just need a place you trust , but not necessarily one that has super-high-skilled meat cutters - you just need chuck, if I recall, maybe some sirloin, unless you are doing more experimental stuff like throwing in kidney..

        3. I have only been to one "butcher" in the area and that was McKinnon's Meat Market in Davis Square, Somerville. I found them to be extremely friendly and accommodating, I also thought the prices were extremely reasonable even on the low side.

          1. I'm always flogging the butcher at Fresh Pond market in Huron Village because I miss them, but if you're looking for interesting (read weird) cuts for blending up your own hamburger mix and not special choice or prime, you might try Pilgrim Beef in Haymarket. It's kind of a crazy place and it's probably not organic etc, but it is the kind of place where if you come in and say you want a certain cut, they can go in the back and carve it off the carcass that's hanging back there.
            I'm curious to hear about your experience if you go to The Meat Spot- like you I've driven past it a million times...

            7 Replies
            1. re: cpingenot

              I'm unhappy to report what a bad experience I had trying to locate the cuts of meat I needed. I started at the the Meat Spot, but they didn't have Oxtail or Brisket. Oxtail I can maybe understand, but no brisket? You call yourself a butcher? They actually told me straight up to try Shaws instead. Wonderful, so I go to Shaws, who of course has no oxtail but does have brisket but is very unwilling to cut to the size I need, when they do it's not to the correct amount. I have to go to a third grocery store just to get the oxtail, very frustrating.

              1. re: rchudy

                lord jeff new market square and enough crying

                1. re: OLDCHEF

                  I couldn't spend my money here. did a driveby as I was intrigued and there was not a piece of inspiring meat - although the help was friendly, I left hungry and bagless

                2. re: rchudy

                  asian grocers like ming's, super 88 and c-mart, always have oxtail.

                  1. re: rchudy

                    I've had the same experience at the Meat Spot. Too bad, because I also live in Watertown and want to like them. They have an extremely limited selection and cannot special order many things (brisket). They are more of a "meat store" than a butcher.

                    1. re: Ruprecht

                      I shopped at the Meat Spot a few times a few years ago and was generally happy. I had a hankering for grilled flank steak a few months ago, and stopped in to see what they had. The young guy behind the counter said that they didn't have any flank steak, but he had something similar. When my son asked what cut, he said "sirloin strip". We still joke about that. Needless to say, we went elsewhere.

                      To be fair, though, I have a friend who swears by their marinated lamb for her Armenian family gatherings.

                    2. re: rchudy

                      I like the Meat Spot, but it works best if you call ahead and see if they have what you want or if they can get it for you. I usually don't see what I want, but they have more in the back. Closer to St. Pat's Day- they brine their own corned beef and baby back ribs. The ribs are awesome. But again, call ahead and order what you want (several days ahead for the corned stuff- it takes time).

                  2. Afraid I'm a little late on this one but I recommend taking a drive out to North Andover to visit Butcher Boys (butcherboymarket.com). The place is HUGE, they seem to have at least 8-10 butchers behind the counter at all times. It is very clean and the butchers are skilled, well-trained, and very eager to assist.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: tperlman

                      oxtail I can get at Stop Shop, I discovered. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem very economical to grind your own meat, it ends up costing way too much. I will try again, but in the meantime, might have to just look for the best butcher that grinds their own beef.

                      1. re: rchudy

                        The suggestion for Lord Jeff's is a good one for oxtail as they sell a lot (its cut to order, frozen) but its a hike. That said, given the requirements you have mentioned McKinnon's in Davis might suit you. They carry oxtail, you can get brisket if you call ahead (they often have it, but you might have to wait), and if you hand them a chuck roast they will grind it for you (you can't specify the grind, but the price per-lb is comparable to normal ground). Just don't go right before closing or during the Friday or Saturday rushes. Sulmona is the gold standard for "grind your own" because they only grind to order, but there are other options closer. Also see my above rec for Fresh Pond Supermarket, which I believe would grind too, but oxtail and brisket might be special orders.

                        1. re: itaunas

                          excellent. thanks for the suggestions!

                    2. Although it is a bit out to town, in Groton, MA, I would highly recommend Blood Farm in Groton, MA. It is a 5 generation family (The Bloods) who raise and butcher their own meat as well as animals from the local 4-H clubs.

                      1. Can I hijack slightly--any recs for a butcher who will sell me casings for making sausage? I've heard Savenor's though I'm wary since I don't want to spend $40 on a handful of innards.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: greengage

                          Check your local Market Basket. They often have them. I've even seen them at Stop and Shop from time to time,

                          1. re: greengage

                            Stop and show carries them in most stores.

                            1. re: StriperGuy

                              wow--thank you both! I never woulda thought...

                              1. re: greengage

                                greengage to fill in the other responses a bit. These stores generally sell hog casings (so natural casings, usually about the size of standard italian sausage) packed in salt. I believe the packets will do about 25lbs of meat (maybe 10, but I have done more than that) and as long as you only soak what you need, you can store them for later use so they are easy for home makers. If you need a local source for some other size such as sheeps casings (breakfast sausage) or beef middles (for salami), there is an importer in Medford which stocks those in solution. The tricky part for a home sausage maker is you have to buy enough for 50 lbs and what you don't use you would have to freeze after opening. This is also what a friendly butcher would likely sell you from their own stock. Online you can get other sizes packed in salt, as well as collagen and other fake casings which are a lot less expensive and shelf stable.

                                Lord Jeffs in Newmarket usually has them if closer to you.

                            2. Try finding a local farmer. I get my pork belly and lard from a guy near my town who raises his pigs sustainably and chemical free. meat producers and farmers can get you custom cuts straight from the place they have their animals processed.

                              check out:
                              CISA website - buylocalfood.org
                              or
                              localharvest.org

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: PorkSkinIsLove

                                Unless things have changed in the past year or so, any local farmer in eastern Massachusetts is going to have their animals processed at Blood Farm in Groton (see betta's post above: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6783... ). Last I knew Blood Farm was the only USDA-certified meat processor in the area.

                                Folks there are GREAT and they have beef, pork, lamb, and goat. Their bacon is the best. My memory is that they don't have as much in the way of chicken as you might want - just whole birds and maybe quartered, IIRC. Don't take me word as gospel on that, though - when we go there we're not usually looking all that closely at the poultry.

                                If you have particular cuts in mind or are looking for large amounts you should probably give a call to put in an order.

                                Blood Farm
                                94 West Main Street
                                West Groton, MA 01472
                                (978) 448-6669

                              2. Since you are in Watertown, check out the butcher at the back of the Coolidge Variety store, directly across the street from the Deluxe Town Diner. Nick is the butcher I have run into on Saturdays - have had some really yummy stuff - nice pork chops, chicken, delicious steaks. Last weekend, he cut me a nice sirloin. Not high end stuff like John Dewar but hey, it's close to you and Nick certainly seems like the kind of guy that would try to get you whatever you needed.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                  I went to Coolidge Variety for the first time a couple of weeks ago in search of chicken after picking up some pocketless pita, tzatziki and a few other things at Arax and Sevan. What a pleasant experience all around. Must have been Nick who cut my chicken breasts into kabobs and couldn't have been more accommodating. The prices were good and I'll definitely be back. Great to support such a lovely local business.

                                2. McKinnon's had a sale last week on amazing Delmonico steaks. They were certainly not graded at $4.99 a pound but the marbling was amazing and every bit as good as a graded prime steak.

                                  I had a restaurant buddy over for dinner and he was stunned that I got such nice steaks for such small money. Only other time I had such good luck was at Hilltop (admittedly VERY hit or miss) about a year or so back.