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Nov 8, 2010 08:47 PM

Large, important roasts for the holidays - where to buy at an affordable price?

I'm already thinking ahead for the holidays (a sign of a true eater) and want to make some large, important roasts for a dinner party or two -- think beef tenderloin or beef Wellington, crown roast of pork, crown roast of lamb, that sort of thing. Problem is, I'm on a budget. I'm assuming that my neighborhood markets, Cal-Mart and Bryan's, probably aren't going to offer the most budget-friendly prices. Any suggestions on where to go? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!

3585 California St, San Francisco, CA 94118

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  1. Costco -- good quality, good prices. If you don't have a membership, ask if a friend will take you.

    1. Costco is a good suggestion. The beef is good value/good quality. I heard the lamb is very good but I've never tried it. The only place better for lamb might be a halal butcher. The lamb at the Halal butchers in the East Bay is usually $4/lb or so.

      1. The original comment has been removed
        1. I love lamb, but a Prather Ranch leg [range raised, organically fed, well educated, and from a good family of moderate-to-liberal democrats] recently cost $9.99/lb--not all that budget friendly.

          Prather Ranch
          1 Ferry Bldg # 32, San Francisco, CA

          1. re: Rapini

            I was assuming that the OP would not be purchasing anything marketed as grass fed/sustainable/humanely raised due to price. That's why I suggested lamb. Low priced lamb w/out a provenance will almost always have been better (more humanely/sustainably) raised than similarly mysterious pork. Cheap pork is raised indoors in CAFOs. Cheap lamb is raised out of doors and is either free ranging or raised in fenced pastures. Cheap beef is a big step up from cheap pork, but it is not generally raised as well as lamb. The beeves do get time out of doors, but they also end up in large scale, high stress feed lots.

            A leg of lamb can be purchased locally for under $4 per pound. A boneless leg of NZ lamb can be purchased at Costco for around $5 per pound.

            1. re: lexdevil

              Local lamb is pretty much out of season. I sometimes by Sonoma lamb from Golden Gate meats. I don't know how much a leg is, but the chops are less than $10/lb so I assume the leg is somewhat less.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                At this time of year the NZ lamb is probably the best bet. By purchased locally, I didn't mean to imply that it was raised locally.

                Everything is a trade off. For me, the horror of the CAFO is such that I'd rather buy lamb from NZ than pork from the US. The carbon footprint may be worse, but at least the animal wasn't raised in a massive CAFO that poisons the watershed. Of course I probably wouldn't really buy either, as I purchase most of my meat from local farms, but if I were in the OP's shoes and putting low cost high on my list of priorities, I'd buy lamb.

            2. re: Rapini

              Prather Ranch's lamb is about as expensive as it gets. From what I've been told, the lamb at halal butchers is often pastured. Tastes like it, anyway.

              I don't think there's a season for local lamb. This time of year it's going to be more like mutton than baby grass-fed, that's all. I just bought a half direct from a ranch through a friend.

              If you're ever driving up or down 101, bring an ice chest and stop at Bud's Custom Meats.

              Bud's Custom Meats
              7750 Petaluma Hill Rd, Penngrove, CA

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I read this as pasteurized and my brain just froze: "how in the world do you pasteurize lamb?"

                Now that I got it right: I think pretty much all lamb is pastured. Certainly anything local is.

                I buy my lamb from the halal butcher on San Pablo at Hearst (I think it's Indus Village, at least it shares space with the Indus Village restaurant). Leg and chops for $4/lb. Good quality meat although the butchering style is a bit, what shall I say?, idiosyncratic? Try as I might, I cannot get them to prepare a rack correctly for me.

                Indus Village Restaurant
                1920 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702

                1. re: Cross Eyed Bear

                  Indus Foods. Yeah, if you want a Frenched rack or some other specific Euro-American preparation, you'd have to do it yourself.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Rack Frenching isn't that difficult. When I gook the whole hog butchery class I learned that the stuff you take off from the bones of pig ribs is the ur-McRib, before it was popularized and transformed into a pressed-meat product by McD.