Foodies, you have a mission.

Your task for this week is simple, but hardly easy.

Find yourself a GOOD butcher. This means an independent operator (either an independent shop, or a good butcher dept. in an independent market), because moving plastic wrapped sirloins and boneless/skinless chicken breasts from the back to the refrigerated case is not that. You need someone who can score you the good stuff, and the hard to find stuff. You may want breast of veal, or a saddle of lamb or free-range capon or Kobe (or Hereford) beef, or some unusual cuts like flatirons or hanger steaks.

You need to find someone who knows his (or her) stuff. You need to hack away the distance between the front end of your personal food chain and you. You need to find a butcher that doesn't sell "ground beef" but rather, sells beef that he (or, again, she) will grind to your specs on the spot.

It is one of the pillars of food sense that the fewer the number of people involved with your food, the better it will taste and the better it will be for you. Food that has been lovingly--even passionately--raised will give you a huge-@$$ jump on getting something delicious on the plate. And a butcher is the person who can get you that.

Find one and cultivate that relationship. A butcher who is both knowledgeable and on your side will let you know when something beautiful has come in, when you should be guided into considering a different something, when you don't need that supah-pricy cut.

Of course, this is likely easier in the big cities that have enough of a population to make such a butcher establishment economically viable. But even mid-sized locales still have a good butcher shop somewhere. All you need do is find it.

Imagine how glorious that Thomas Keller roast chicken will taste with a real chicken; one that hasn't been swimming in weirdo ingredients and hormones and antibiotics.

Be a friend, make a friend.



MsCellania said…
My last 2 butchers were missing fingers. It's quite common, I guess.

Anyway, I haven't had a good butcher for years. Like the guy who would trim a rack of lamb so perfectly, he would unwrap it to show the entire store when you went in to pick it up; or the other guy who would cut your steaks and chops EXACTLY 1, 1.5, 2 or even 3" thick, and I mean EXACTLY, all the way around; or the time he sneaked a special small fillet into the ground round and cut-up whole chicken order, as he knew I was struggling financially.

Thanks for reminding me about this, Joke. I've been meaning to; gees, it's been 5 years since I had a butcher.
Jaye Joseph said…
I'm 100% with you on this, and also, you need to have a fishmonger. Everyone needs both.

You should shop your local farmer's market as well, buying what's fresh, cooking what's in season. In fact, I'm going right now.z
lazy cow said…
I totally agree. I've *finally* convinced my husband that organic meat is the way to go. He's always insisted that supermarket meat is fine. He's discovered a local organic butcher and is in raptures. Everyboday wins!
Jess said…
Just to let you know -
I made the delectable roast chicken with bone-in chicken breast pieces today (the Tweaked by Joke method) and it was incredible.

Oh, and the rosemary potatoes, too.

Everyone wanted to help clean up....I'm betting it was so they could steal a fingerful of the shmutz left in the pan...
Joke said…
Technically, I think it's schmaltz.

-J., Mr. Yiddish

P.S. While I agree that the all-natural, all-organic stuff tastes better, what really sells the butcher shop is the SERVICE. The one I go to (and it's 90 min. each way) has sides of beef, pork, etc. on this track thingy like the dry cleaners and you pick the one you like and they will cut weird cuts to your specs. Next week, we'll discuss fishmongers.

Schmutz is dirt; schmaltz is fat.

Take that Keller chicken one step ahead with the bread dressing by Judy Rodgers of the Zuni Cafe

The butcher and the fishmonger are becoming obsolete. We need to keep them in business.

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