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Butcher frustration

Boilermaker BenBoilermaker Ben Posts: 1,956
edited 11:45AM in EggHead Forum
Grrr. I have to stop doing things at the last minute.

I have a favorite butcher, but they are 40 minutes away. Their prices are reasonable (especially on whole-cuts...steaks and such can be pricy), their meat is excellent, and they have a huge variety of sausages, cured meats, jerky, etc.

Last night, with the storm looming, I decided to pick up a brisket on the way home. I've also been wanting to make bacon, so I figured I'd pick up a belly as well. I didn't want to make an hour-and-a-half trip out of my way to get to the preferred butcher, so I started calling around to the local places. Of the half-dozen places I called, no one had both cow belly and pig belly on hand, and a couple of places had neither. I found a couple of places on my route home which had one or the other, so I planned on stopping at both.

Since I also have an asian market on the way, and very close to work, I figured I'd stop there to see if they have pork belly. Sure enough, there in the fridge, they had all kinds of pork belly (thin slices, thick slices, 2-3 inch thick pieces), much of which was beautiful, with lots of fat. So I asked the butcher if he had any whole belly. He asked if I would like the bones in, or removed. Deboned, please. A few minutes later, he brought me out an 8-pound belly. $2.09 per pound (nearly $1/pound less than anyplace I had called). It was already wrapped...meat-side out. I should have asked to see it unwrapped. I KNEW I should have asked. I didn't ask.

Then on to the butcher who had packers on hand. Place was a madhouse. Panicky city-folk buying groceries like it was Y2K. The meat department was taking numbers. They were on number thirty. I pulled ticket 45...sigh. 15 minutes later it was my turn. "I called in about a packer brisket." The guy disappears into the back. Brings out a still-bagged hunk o' cow that looks suspiciously small, but I didn't get a good look at it before he puts it on the scale and quickly rings it up. I catch a glimpse of the price...$1/pound higher than what I was quoted. I ask. He asks his manager. Manager says "that's because that isn't a packer, it's a flat. Go get a packer." Guy disappears into the back again. Comes back out and gets the manager, they both go back. Come back empty handed. Sorry, someone else took your packer." I have a Seinfeld moment. But that's what RESERVATION means! I go home with a flat.

Late last night, I unwrap the pork belly. The skin is still on...I didn't ask about the skin. Oh well, no big deal, I have sharp knives. What's worse, though is that there is almost no fat on the belly. It's lean...very lean. Sadly lean.

I learned much last night.
Don't wait until the last minute.
Ask to see the meat, before they wrap it.
Pig skin is hard to remove, when the slab of meat under it is thin and flexible.
A good butcher is a valuable thing, and worth a 90 minute trip.


  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428
    And item #7 on the "things to make sure and do before wrapping" is to have them hand you the fish for the sniff test.
    Happy Trails

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • Hah! That one is already a habit. It's funny how many fishmongers look surprised at that request.
  • Ben
    What butcher do you prefer and where are they located?
  • Ream's Elburn Elburn (otherwise known as timbuktu).
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