How to Buy Meat from a Butcher

With the boom in popularity of large chain supermarkets, most people nowadays will purchase meat wrapped in cellophane on small polystyrene trays. While there is nothing wrong with that, there may be benefits that you're missing by not buying meat straight from a butcher. Buying meat from a supermarket might be quick and convenient, but often times you can get higher quality cuts in greater volume at a lower price by visiting a butcher. Learning how to buy meat from a butcher may be difficult at first, but soon enough you will begin to reap the rewards.


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    Learn the different types of meat cuts. In a supermarket, you can simply look at the type of meat on display and pick whatever looks good enough for your purposes. At a butcher shop, you will need to know the name of the cut of meat that you want before you can order it. Most butchers are kind and patient and will help you identify the kind of meats that are most suited for your intended dishes, so don't be afraid to ask when you don't know.
    • Learning about the different cuts of meat ahead of time can help speed up your visits with the butcher, but it can also give you access to meats not on display because not every type of meat available is put on display at a butcher shop.
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    Decide how much meat you want before ordering. In a supermarket, meat comes prepackaged in predetermined sizes. At a butcher, you will not only need to know what kind of meat to order, but how much of it you will want.
    • When buying chops or sausages, you can simply order by the number -- e.g., 3 sausages or 5 pork chops. When buying most other meat cuts, you'll need to order by weight -- e.g., 12 oz. (340 g) of sirloin.
    • The great thing about buying meat from a butcher is that you can choose how much meat you need to fit your needs. However, for first timers, it can be difficult to know how much meat is enough. As a baseline, you can start off by estimating 4 oz. (113 g) per person. If you end up ordering too little or too much, you can tweak your subsequent orders.
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    Be ready for the butcher to ask you questions. Other than type of meat and amount of meat, the butcher may ask you questions regarding the meat that you order. If you have no idea how to respond, it is OK to simply say, "I don't know. What difference does it make?" Butchers are experts with meat and they should try to help you buy the best meat available to suit your needs.
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    Ask the butcher any questions that you may have. If being in a butcher shop arouses a few questions in your mind -- e.g., if you see a slab of meat that looks interesting -- it is never a bad idea to ask. Not only will you increase the knowledge you have about meat, thus improving your future visits to the butcher, but you will also begin to develop a relationship with your butcher. Having a personal butcher that you can trust will have a positive impact on your future meat needs.

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Categories: Food Preparation