HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >


MF Dulock - high end butchery

Stopped in for my first purchase here - house-made sweet Italian sausage - $7/lb. is steep; however, it is a rare thing in America these days to purchase sausage and have the donor of the sausage looking at you from the deli case - the head of THE pig was for sale and staring up at me. Which is ultimately the reason for entering this shop in the first place, but I will get back to that.

So the question is: Is $7/lb. for sausage worth it?

In terms of taste, other than a sausage I recently had in a Breton village not far from Mont-St. Michel, this is the best sausage I have had in recent memory - seemingly low in fat content, medium ground which made it feel more substantial, whole spices like fennel seed, smelled great. Served sauteed with onion, peppers and tomatoes from the Waltham Fields Community Farm CSA, on toasted Portuguese rolls by Winter Hill Bakery bought at McKinnon's.

So perhaps the mere fact that our Tuesday night dinner was hyperlocal makes me, by default, the kind of sanctimonious ass that would regularly pay $7 / lb. for sausage. (In addition to being the kind of person that feels the need to brag about dining on Breton sausage - oh how precious! Oh, and the Breton sausage - from a French food truck...ha!)

Then I factor in more general muckety-muckery because, since having read Jonathan Safran Foer's "Eating Animals," I have been parsimonious in my meat eating, eschewing chicken completely although still the occasional sausage or steak, if for no other reason that I stopped reading after the chicken chapters because subconsciously I did not want to ruin all bacon for the end of time, like that book did for chicken. (Although I will admit that I have committed a fowl at Magoun's because I understand that buffalo sauce kills off the general uncleanliness of factory farmed chicken.)

So putting all politics and ethics aside, what it basically boils down to is that I really just want clean food that tastes the best. So on these metrics, I think a place like Dulock will get my continued support. I see the animal that I am eating, I know that it was selected and apportioned by my local butcher, and (on faith) it was raised in a way that will create a better taste in its flesh. Why shouldn't I be willing to pay double the price per pound for that guarantee?

Is it elitist snobbery? I guess it could be, to a point. I just keep coming back to the Fight Club dialogue about clean food and the book, which if only 50% of what he says is true, makes me sick.

For the one Yelp reviewer (so far) who sounds like had a great Porterhouse (http://www.yelp.com/biz/mf-dulock-pas...), clearly the answer of whether it is worth it is no. And unlike that review, I found Jamal to be very friendly, while Michael was engaged the whole time with another couple of customers.

In any case, expect to pay about double the typical supermarket rate, but will report back on other cuts of meat as sampled.

A few other notes:

They will always have pork and beef on hand via whole animals, and waste little. So as the week goes on, more unusual cuts I think will tend to predominate. Of course, a call ahead will guarantee what you want. Deliveries are on Tuesday or Thursday, and they will be getting in lamb and/or goat at this time in addition to the staples.

Apparently, there are no plans at this point to post on the website or Facebook what new animals are getting delivered, which is too bad - I think that would generate more interested customers.

They had a large slab of beef suet in the case, and not sure what to do with that. I think more nose-to-tail suggestions would also help the casual meat eater branch out.

One final note: DW proclaimed this dish of sausage and peppers to be the best I've ever made. Granted, she was really hungry....I blamed the sausages.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. That this place exists in my student days neighborhood makes me very happy. I'm not sure I could look the pig right in the eye and not feel guilty, but guilt is the second best pickle (after hunger). Just returned from Germany and Switzerland where the meats and cheese were amazing. I brought back a mountain sausage from the Vaudois region so heavily smoked that i fear the smell will never leave my luggage.

    1. Thanks for the great report BD. I have been eagerly awaiting a place like this, and after the total disappointment of Akimenko's non-progress thus far, can't wait to get a chance to head over there.

      I don't think it's helpful to consider it "sanctimonious" to patronize these sorts of establishments, and I think that so-called "conscious" people can tend to over-correct for the fact that they feel awkward about bucking the norm, and for fear of fulfilling some sort of elitist stereotype. We should all be self-aware, but shouldn't be so eager to measure ourselves against what is considered normal.

      Most people see McKinnon's and M.F. Dulock as serving the same product, but they very obviously don't, and there's no need to feel bad about yourself for realizing that. We don't need to think that food begins when its on our plate and ends when it's between our teeth. A caged cow is not the same as a pastured cow; it's not the same for the animal, it's not the same for your body, and it's not the same for the environment we all share. A CAFO pig is no more identical to a free-range pig than a stolen car is to a car purchased at a dealership.

      I'm glad that someone made this thread; Slim and I started to have a conversation about relative food valuations yesterday in the Cutty's thread, which the Chowhound censors were nice enough to totally erase. Maybe the watchmen will consider this a more appropriate venue for that.

      1 Reply
      1. re: FinnFPM

        The goal of this board is to share tips on where to find great chow locally in the Boston area. It's a narrow goal, but keeping this board more narrowly focused makes it more useful to all the users who rely on it to help make local dining decisions.

        If you'd like to discuss more general issues such as relative food valuations, our General Chowhounding Topics board is a better place for that type of discussion. You are welcome to start a discussion there and leave a link to it from this board.

      2. Also very very interesting that they have a big thing of suet there. That's highly-prized stuff for cooking. What you do with it is you render it down into beef tallow, which is a cooking fat.

        Tallow is what McDonald's used to cook their french fries in. It arguably allowed them to take over the world. They don't use it anymore, though. Few people do. The saturated fat fearmongers have pushed tallow into obscurity.

        4 Replies
        1. re: FinnFPM

          I was glad to hear about the suet, as it is called for in traditional recipes for English savory pies and I want to try it at least once. So it sounds like I can walk in and ask for Boston butt bone in, and it would get cut on the spot? I only eat meat a few times a month, but like others, want to eat humanely so it's worth the extra cost to me.

          1. re: Madrid

            I get the sense that they are portioning as the animal comes in, so you should call ahead to reserve the cut you want, check price, etc. I am not sure they have the volume right now to support cutting to order walk-ins.

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              My sense is that their inventory at any given time is fairly limited, but if you don’t see what you’re looking for in the display case, ask for it. Michael (Dulock) was happy to cut two strip steaks for me last week from a primal cut he retrieved from his walk-in cooler.

            2. re: Madrid

              I use it in plum puddings, and it is just about that time of year to make some (gotta age 'em before the holidays). Thanks for the heads up about the suet!

          2. Do you remember what (if any) other sausages they had?

            2 Replies
            1. re: Aromatherapy

              Some sort of breakfast links and loose stuffing of two or three other varieties.

              1. re: Aromatherapy

                Sat. they had chorizo, sweet and hot Italian, French herb blend, smaller breakfast, and 1 other that I can't recall.

              2. $7/lb doesn't seem unusual. The farms that sell at Farmers Markets sell sausages for at least that. Formaggio Kitchen has sold at that price or higher for years. I'm okay with it taking some extra money to avoid CAFO meat. Like double, as you said.
                Thanks for the review - can't wait to bring check it out and bring them my business.

                9 Replies
                1. re: deglazer

                  I checked Stillman's sausage prices at the Government Center farmers market -- $8.99 is their cheapest, and depending on the type, they run up to $15.99/lb. Their hot dogs were $10.99/lb. So M.F. Dulock is absolutely not out of bounds in this regard; if anything, he's cheaper than most.

                  1. re: FinnFPM

                    Interesting. That's sort of what I thought. I was just at the meat stand at the Central Sq. market (sorry, can't remember the name of the farm but they have 100% grass fed beef which I've tried and liked a lot). They have beef sausage around $7/lb and pork sausage around $9/lb.

                    1. re: deglazer

                      Would love to know the name of who is home-making beef sausages.
                      It is hard to find good pork-free sausages. (Assuming the beef sausage is not packed in hog casings.)

                      1. re: dulce de leche

                        It's Austin Brothers Valley Farm. Did not inquire about the casings but they're almost always hog, as you say, which is too bad. I'll check back if I find out anything. (btw I think they are not at the market next week, Oct.8)

                        1. re: deglazer

                          So they are not pork-free, alas. Hog casings, as suspected. But really delicious! Hot and sweet Italian. Watch them closely because they cook more quickly than pork sausages.

                  2. re: deglazer

                    Whole Foods is about $6/lb, so $7/lb for that kind of quality doesn't seem outrageous at all.

                    1. re: VintageMolly

                      Definitely. Their sausages put the WF offerings to shame.

                      1. re: Gabatta

                        WF sausages suck...except for the Merguez which I thought was quite good.

                  3. Prey tell. How much for the pig's head. I hear tete de fromage calling.

                    2 Replies
                      1. re: trufflehound

                        Pig Head was $4/pound if I remember correctly

                      2. What's the big deal, special people deserve special meat...

                        Joking, I'm joking.

                        1. My 2 year old devours their sausages. The pork loin we cooked last week was one of the best we have ever had.

                          1. Bob-

                            The only thing I find surprising about your post is that you were able to find good sausage near Le Mont St. Michel. You have to get pretty far away to avoid tourist trap food. That being said, I am looking forward to trying MF Dulock. While I am happy to eat highly processed meats, I would rather have the clean stuff for a very rare or tartar steak and love lamb that actually tastes lamby.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: ScotchandSirloin

                              It was in the village of Bazouges-la-Perouse, about 15 km south - http://maps.google.com/maps?q=bazouge...

                              It was a sausage wrapped in a galette crepe from the weekly (Thursday morning) farmer's market in the village.

                            2. I'm happy to read a good review of this place--looking forward to trying it myself. $7/lb for sausage doesn't seem that unreasonable to me, for this kind of product.

                              1. Mike Dulock used to own Concord Fish and Prime.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: typhoonfish

                                  Yeah, the picture of Mike on MF Dulock's facebook page was taken at Concord Fish and Prime

                                2. So excited to try this place. I'm always willing to pay more to know I'm getting more ethically sourced meat (see also Pete & Jen's Backyard Birds).

                                  Glad to know that it will likely be worth the pretty penny we'll pay.

                                  1. We went to the shop on the second Saturday that they were open. The place is pristinely clean with no smell of meat to be found. It is so clean, it looks like a movie set. Very different than the butcher shops of my youth in NYC. Every nook and cranny outside the "butcher area" is filled with cookbooks. The prices are easy to find and read. I didn't feel that anything was being hidden.

                                    I too have purchased the Italian $7/lb sausage. I bought two links which was close to a pound, so they are pretty hefty. I thought the flavor was good and the fat content was enough but not too much. We don't eat much these days, so one sausage was perfect for a meal. I used it as a topping for a pizza after parcooking. Great use of this sausage, but I bet with onions and cherry peppers it would be terrific as well.

                                    The items in the case looked really tired to me, as though they had been in there a bit too long. None of those cuts called out to me. However, I was delighted to see that he has many of my cookbooks on the shelves, so I can imagine calling up and saying "Page 53 of XXX book" and having a cut of meat prepared for me to pick up.

                                    I also bought a hunk of very white pork fat for sausage making at home. Sadly, the fat was wrapped to enclose a huge amount of sinew, so next time I will be careful to examine the fat more closely.

                                    I am very excited to have this in my neighborhood. As his customer base grows, I full expect to see the number of options expand.

                                    13 Replies
                                    1. re: smtucker

                                      "Sadly, the fat was wrapped to enclose a huge amount of sinew, so next time I will be careful to examine the fat more closely". I had that happen to myself frequently when I was drinking, I thought it best to leave quietly in the morning.

                                      Anyone know if different varieties of sausage are usually available?

                                      1. re: soylent_greens

                                        When I was in recently they had garlic and thyme (very tasty, also very low-fat), chorizo (did not enquire what version) and a pinky-size one I can't remember the name of. I'm excited to have this in the neighborhood.

                                        1. re: Aromatherapy

                                          I had the garlic and thyme last night at Parlor Sports and it was excellent.

                                      2. re: smtucker

                                        "The place is pristinely clean with no smell of meat to be found."

                                        I wish that were not so. I expect good butcher and fresh killed poultry or fish shops to smell, unlike de-oderized supermarkets. There's a clean meat smell that is distinctive, and I lament the fact that so many people no longer know it.

                                        1. re: Karl S

                                          There is no back room at Dulock other than the walk in. They will be processing the animals in the shop. I think you will approve.

                                          The shop is brand new and they seem to keep it very clean when not cutting.

                                          1. re: Gabatta

                                            Ah. Oh well. I *miss* the smell of the back room, as it were. I don't want an antiseptic space in the olfactory sense. That's not to the knock the operation, but someday it would be good to get back to people being familiar with what the clean smell of a butcher's/poutryman's/fishmonger's shop really is.

                                            1. re: Karl S

                                              The space does not smell antiseptic, btw. Just clean. I bet over time it will acquire the odors of fine aging....

                                              I for one love that New Butcher Shop smell...

                                          2. re: Karl S

                                            I agree, however I much prefer the meat smell over the poultry or fish smells. Sulmona in the North End has this "meat smell" for sure.

                                            1. re: chrisdapos

                                              Yes! They should turn it into a cologne...

                                                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                  Adding to my want list. I wonder if you can specify brisket?

                                                  1. re: nsenada

                                                    No, it should be called Irony (for the distinctive smell of iron-rich tissue in beef butchery).

                                          3. I forwarded this link to Mike Dulock, who is now reading it.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: typhoonfish

                                              I wonder if he would be willing to cut, season and vacuum-seal meat to order for a direct freezer-to-sous-vide setup.

                                              1. re: enhF94

                                                i don't have an answer as to whether Mike can do that. I bought a vacuum sealer from Foodmaster for about $100. You can pay more for faster machines but I find this more than adequate. Use it all the time for fresh fish or meats without any loss in quality. Fits on the countertop,not a big machine like the pros have.

                                                I tried sous vide once but didn't have much success. I chalk it uo to operator error..:)

                                                1. re: 9lives

                                                  yeah, I have all the equipment and love it, but I only grieve over getting vacuum-sealed meat which I must unseal, season and reseal in a new bag.

                                                  (you probably figured this out, but I only dropped the question on the assumption that MF might read and consider it.)

                                            2. As one who needs to cross the Charles more often, thanks for the heads up! Always on the lookout for some fairly sourced meat without having to make a trek to Blood Farm in Groton and was not aware of this store. Looks like a trip to MF Dulock is in order. The sausages sound like they are worth every penny to me. WF charges 5.99 for dry and tasteless versions. I recently ordered mail order heritage pork from Iowa, not cheap by any means but still worth the money, however the Fed Ex costs were huge and I had a problem with having to be home in order for the Fed Ex guy to deliver it. Came close to ruining a 100 bucks worth of meat over some new shipping policy.

                                                1. Made it to MF Dulock's in Somerville yesterday. Being vehicle challenged, I took the T from Park St to Davis Sq..and walked up Highland Ave. I asked a Somerville cop in Davis Sq about how far? He answered, It'sf@#$ing long way.I asked how long a walk? 15-20 mins. I had tolaugh and went on my way. I guess we all have different interpretations of what is a "long" walk..:)

                                                  Passed all the places mentioned on the Davis Sq thread and stopped in at a small gallery on the left that had some old Boston maps; which I enjoy.

                                                  On to the butcher shop..small, immaculately clean with a butcher case full of different cuts of pork, veal, lamb and beef. I backed up the truck; bought a beautifully marbled porterhouse, some ground beef, stew meat, lamb chops, and "Toulouse" sausages. Had to pass on the pigs head in the case but some lucky person will end up wth it. I had dinner plans last night and tonight so everything is cryovaced/frozen x the stew meat which we'll cook tomorrow. I'm excited because of the reports and everything looks so good. I've also been a customer of the Dulock's for many years and I know of their commitment to quality and Mike and I have talked about this for years.

                                                  Unfortunately, Mike was not in but his colleagues, Jamal and Maureen do a great job. He's doing something that unique in the Boston area (x the farmers market meat) and I wish him the best with this venture. I think we're very fortunate to have a market that's sourcing local products.

                                                  I'll report more when I actually eat something but I really have no doubt that I'll be pleased.

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: 9lives

                                                    For future reference, the 88 and 90 buses run down Highland ave in case you don't want to lug a bunch of stuff back on foot , though I agree that it's hardly a "long f@#Sing way!". I did that walk every day for a couple of years. Oh, car-centric people....

                                                    I agree that Jamal and Maureen (assuming these are the two people I've encountered there on a couple of occasions) are really nice and helpful. I've been pleased with everything I've had from there so far (I was especially impressed with the stew meat--it just looks so much better than supermarket offerings).

                                                    1. re: LeoLioness


                                                      They mentioned the 88 bus when I called for directions and I sawi t go by but it was such a nice day that I preferred to walk. Burned off lunch and had a cannoli reward.:)

                                                      Good info for when the weather is not so good.

                                                      Looking forward to cooking the stew meat tonight, maybe a beef bourgignon.

                                                    2. re: 9lives

                                                      Update..The stew meat was great; braised in a wine sauce. Made burgers on the grill with the ground meat...delicious..perfectly done..rare. Loved the sausage also.

                                                      1 point to make. The sausages have less fat than my usual purchase, Sulmona or Pace. First batch I browned in skillet and finished in oven for 30 mins. Next time did the same but only 20 mins in a 350f oven. Better result. IMO, don't overcook this stuff..:)

                                                      Still have some lamb chops and beef porterhouse..which I'm looking forward to.

                                                      1. re: 9lives

                                                        +1 on the stew meat - super high quality in my beef stew and a beef bone with marrow added even more flavor.

                                                        1. re: 9lives

                                                          Agree about the sausages. A bit less cooking and/or a bit of moisture.

                                                      2. Ack! Really? Maybe the mods can delete that link from the original post?

                                                        1. I hope lots of people on this board have been fortunate to get over to MF Dulock. The product and service are both outstanding (and yes it is very nice to know where the animals are coming from). We picked up some garlic and provolone sausage today which was outrageously delicious. Jamal comes up with one great sausage creation after another (looking forward to trying the dumpling sausage). We also picked up a beautiful bone in pork shoulder for this weekend.

                                                          Dulock's is pricey compared to supermarkets or somewhere like McKinnons, but worth every penny IMO. All of the meat is excellent, but the pork is always special. I don't think I could / would go back to (any) supermarket pork after getting used to this. We're eating out less with a new addition at home, but ingredients this good allow us to prepare meals that are better than most dinners out anyway at a relative bargain price.

                                                          We tend to go in during the weekdays as it has been getting busy on the weekends. I am very happy to see these guys succeeding. Mike, Maureen and Jamal are working hard and filling a much needed niche in the area.

                                                          1. Does MF Dulock sell any poultry, ever? Specifically, chicken? I've been off chicken for a few years because bad bugs are bad, but if I could get well-sourced chicken, my weight watchers leader would appreciate it ;)

                                                            (I know about other options like Pete and Jen, etc; MFD is just very convenient on my route.)

                                                            6 Replies
                                                            1. re: enhF94

                                                              Nope. Only beef, veal, lamb and pork. But go in and talk to them...I am sure they would be happy to discuss with you.

                                                              1. re: enhF94

                                                                This is something I wish they did. I've considered ceasing my meat CSA (chestnut farms) in favor of getting meat from Dulock. But frankly, one of my favorite aspects of chestnut farms is their poultry and it'd be a shame to lose that. The members-only thanksgiving turkey is another reason I stick around as well.

                                                                1. re: enhF94

                                                                  If you want chicken, you should try Owen's Poultry Farm in Needham.

                                                                  1. re: leah4183

                                                                    I was pretty underwhelmed in the one turkey we got at Owens. It wasn't particularly tasty. We also thought the pot pie we picked up there was pretty average. The dozen eggs were fresh and delicious.

                                                                    I've never tried their chicken.

                                                                    Owen's isn't worth a special trip out of the city for us.

                                                                    1. re: leah4183

                                                                      > (I know about other options like Pete and Jen, etc; MFD is just very convenient on my route.)

                                                                  2. thx for putting the time into this piece; i really enjoyed your writing. and i learned alot.

                                                                    1. Mike announced via his Twitter feed that they are doing due diligence toward opening a 2nd location on the other side of the river. He indicated that this is the first of several announcements to come.

                                                                      My personal wish list is something like this: http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2013/0...