How to Build a Better Relationship With Your Butcher
There are several good reasons to build a good working relationship with your local butcher. Not only would shopping at a butcher help your local economy, but you will receive a higher-quality cut of meat that is perfect for the meal you are preparing. One of the key things you need with a local butcher is a good relationship. How do you build a better relationship with your butcher? There are two key things you need to do.
Respect is a very important part of the relationship between a customer and their butcher. It’s not just respecting the person but respecting the business and the animal too.
Respect the Butcher
A butcher’s job is hard. It’s physical, a little dangerous, and it’s also their life’s work. They put their heart and soul into providing quality to you. They are incredibly knowledgeable about a wide variety of things, including the meat itself and the best ways to prepare it.
Respect the Business
Butcher shops are usually a small family business, and they’re in it out of a passion for said business. It may not be the most beautiful or glamorous, but a quality butcher shop is like a diamond in a basket of coal. They can lead you to new culinary heights.
Respect the Animal
You may not like to think about it, I, a confessed meat-a-tarian don’t either, but an animal gave its life for your meal. Respect that sacrifice. Your butcher does. That is why a quality butcher will ensure that everything that can be used is used.
How to Find Your Butcher
If you are lucky enough to have a few butchers in the area, try a couple out before you settle on the one just for you. Your perfect butcher should:
Make you feel welcome and comfortable in an environment that can be overwhelming.
Willing to discuss where your meat comes from. In fact, they should be proud of the meat they sell.
Meat should come from preferably pastured, grass-fed farms.
Preferably sell local meat from a 250 km / 150-mile radius.
Should – if possible – be a whole-animal butcher.
Knowledgeable in cuts, preparation methods, and be willing to share these with you.
A whole animal butcher shop is beneficial as it’s more environmentally responsible. They take a whole animal and butcher it. The other benefit to this is that they will likely have just about every cut from said animal. The downside is that these cuts can be in limited supply.
2. Ask Questions / Talk
If you hadn’t guessed already, butchers are incredibly knowledgeable in a wide variety of subjects when it comes to the meat that they sell. To create the best relationship with your butcher it is important that you are vocal. Ask your butcher questions, you will receive better service when you have a more experienced person to discuss things with. They will offer different cuts, you are very welcome to ask for recommendations – in fact, it’s encouraged. Butchers have a wealth of knowledge and have probably seen it all.
What Do I Need to Tell the Butcher?
If you are planning something specific you should give your butcher as much information as possible. Not just the cut you think you want. Talk about the nature of your gathering, what you are planning, the number you are feeding, how much time you want to spend on it, and your budget. These factors can be important to what you purchase. You’re not likely to cook and serve tomahawk steaks for your baby cousin’s 3rd birthday party. Right?
Other Tips for Visiting a Butcher
Set a Budget
Meat is expensive, it can be upwards of a third of your food budget. A butcher will be able to help you better if they know what your limits are.
Place any special orders well in advance. Your butcher will let you know the kind of lead time you will need for special cuts or orders. This is especially important when it comes to the holiday season.
You Can Make Requests
Requests are fine, boning, slicing, and cutting meat into cubes is part of the job and they’re good at it. Consider your request, however, and if it is something that is time-consuming – like boning a whole chicken – call ahead.
Following a Recipe
Sometimes you have a recipe that you want to follow. If you’re not confident about the cooking method or perhaps aren’t enthusiastic about the cut once you see it, not only can the butcher provide help with the preparation method itself, but they can recommend cuts that may perform better or save you money. Take pork chops. If you have a recipe that calls for chops, they could save you money by suggesting a whole loin instead, which will also allow you to customize the thickness of those chops before cooking.
Recipes Part Two
When talking about the meal with your butcher, mention the number of people you wish to feed. They may have a recommendation on a cut that will suit your needs better.
A good butcher will be able to help you save money by selecting better cuts for your needs. This includes less expensive, but more flavorful, cuts. For instance, if you cook your steaks past medium, a filet mignon or tomahawk would be a tad pricey in this instance for what you are getting out of the meal. They may suggest a different cut so that you will have a better experience.
Some cuts of meat are currently on-trend and not an entirely sustainable meat to purchase. Take the hanger steak for instance. There is only one of these per cow. Because this particular cut is trendy, they’re in high demand. This means that it won’t be easily available, especially from a whole-animal butcher. However, they will be able to recommend another cut that is just as flavorful.
Do I Tip?
Tipping isn’t necessary. You are purchasing from a local business and boosting your local economy by shopping at a butcher. However, if you feel like they’ve really gone above and beyond, a tip is most welcome.
Just by walking in the door, you have taken your first steps to building a better relationship with your butcher. These tips for getting the most from your local butcher should go a long way to gaining you even more culinary confidence. Do you go to a butcher? Do you have any tips for a better relationship? Share yours with us on our social pages like Facebook and Instagram, using the hashtags #ButchersNBBQ and #NapoleonGrills.