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Sep 30, 2011 07:23 AM

Do You Have A Butcher?

Just had a disappointing incident with the meat department of my local grocery. And now I'm wondering, does everyone have a butcher except me?

I get Empire kosher chicken and turkey breast at Trader Joe's. I also get the occasional rack of lamb there, too. We don't eat that much red meat, but when I do it is from the local grocery.

Is there a big difference in the quality of meat from a butcher?

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  1. Local butchers are few and far between in my area. Like bakeries, they just can't compete with the price and convenience of the supermarket.
    I find the quality and price of meat is much better at the wharehouse clubs, BJ's, Sam's & Costco, than at the local supermarkets.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Motosport

      I try hard to avoid the warehouse types like BJ's, Sam's and Costco for food. They are great for soap and paper products and even gas but not meat.

      I know their price is unbeatable on many things but they represent the opposite of local.

      I do have a butcher at the local market, costs a bit more but they know my name and they make the sausage daily and run out of things by mid day.

    2. Yes I do have one (two actually), from whom I buy the good stuff.

      There is a definite quality difference: meat is selected and handled appropriately (e.g. you want 5 week dry-age, I can get 5 week dry-age) and I can ask for whole primals or differences in cuts for specific applications. They're also better at finding the "lesser cuts" that might not ever get to a mainstream meat counter.

      I still buy supermarket stuff when I need something to practice on, but in general apart from the kosher/halal meats, most supermarket meat is generally of adequate to poor quality.

      1. I do have a butcher shop that I visit regularly. They're these old Croatian guys, known for having some of the best prime meats in the area. They also specialize in large swordfish and tuna. During certain seasons, they bring in some interesting game meats and are always accomidating.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Novelli

          Okay, I need to upgrade! I'm going to find out where there is a butcher in this area. I swear I don't think I've ever seen one except in a farmer's market that only runs 3 days a week.

          1. re: DaisyM

            For craft butchers, a good resource is the Butcher's Guild which also has a lot of interesting content and some local shop overviews.


            That will overlook a number of traditional and ethnic butchers. It would help to educate yourself on meat no matter what the source (a good butcher can help with this) and also meat sources/distribution (something covered in great detail on chowhound).

        2. Yes. There is at least one true butcher shop in every town where I live. I know several of them get there meat from the same source.

          The one in my town has one very knowledge person who is full of helpful suggestions and ideas but sadly, all the other employees seeem to know next to nothing about cuts and preparation.

          Two years ago, we started buying our beef, pork and chickens from a farmer but I do visit the butcher shop for other things.

          1. Like many people who have responded, I have a butcher shop where I shop occasionally. I'd love to say I shop there exclusively, but I don't. There's a gourmet grocery store where I also shop when I'm just picking up something for dinner, or if I'm not entertaining, or whatever. The quality there is okay.

            But if I want something very specific and/or I'm entertaining people I definitely go to the butcher. Also, I like to get bones for stock at the butcher; something you can't easily do at your local supermarket (or warehouse club, I wouldn't think).

            1 Reply
            1. re: egit

              I tend to get my bones from either the ginormous multi-ethnic supermarket (Saraga) in my area, or the large "Asian"/Chinese grocery I usually go to (the latter for fresh pork bones especially). Much, MUCH cheaper than the bones from my local butcher, *unless* I clearly wanted veal bones or bones I want to roast for the marrow alone.