THE VANISHING ART OF BUTCHERING MEAT

Not too long ago, the local butcher shop was commonplace in towns and cities across the country. There seemed to be a butcher shop on almost every corner. Today, though, it can be hard to find the real thing — and even harder to find a butcher who is trained in what is fast becoming a lost art. As in other industries, large stores have driven small meat shops out of business. When it comes to buying meat these days, customers settle for the convenience and low cost of grocery stores. The trade-off is quality, service, and health.

butchering

In Fairfield County, and across Connecticut, you’ll find only a handful of butcher shops, as well as a few smaller markets trying to set themselves apart from large chain grocery stores. Most of these stores, however, are not providing the same level of quality and service associated with the butcher shops of the past. Butcher’s Best owner Steve Ford is a highly trained master butcher. He imparts all of his training to his butcher staff, who are also highly skilled.

The Art of Butchering Meat
Truly skilled butchers are considered culinary artists. To be a master in this profession requires training that is passed down through generations. Grocery store employees who work in the meat section are simply meat cutters. They are mostly part-time employees trained to make certain cuts repetitively. In many cases, the meat comes into these stores already sectioned in factories to make the job easier. These meat cutters often don’t know where certain cuts come from on the animal, or how to judge quality. As a result, they lack the general knowledge required to offer effective service. A skilled butcher, on the other hand, must know how to take the entire animal apart, assuring the integrity of each cut.

Meat Quality
A master butcher knows how to judge quality. This is critical to ensuring the best possible cuts of beef, pork, chicken, and turkey. At Butcher’s Best, quality is critical to our mission. Everything that we sell is of the highest quality. We serve only high- and premium-grade Certified Black Angus beef and small farm raised all-natural meats. When it comes to beef, for example, we start by hand-picking only the best producers. Most of our producers are small farms located throughout New England. Deliveries are frequent to ensure that all of our meats are fresh. When a delivery comes in, we inspect the meat thoroughly to ensure proper marbling and color.

Health
In the old days, small butcher shops took personal responsibility for providing the highest-quality product. At Butcher’s Best, this includes the healthiness of our products. That’s why everything in our store is all natural and includes only real ingredients. The butcher shop is no exception. All of our meats are raised without antibiotics, hormones, or steroids. They are also raised in a comfortable, humane manner and fed healthy diets.

Service and Integrity
The art of service these days seems to be going by the wayside, along with the butcher shops themselves. Employees at grocery stores are part-time low hourly wageworkers just looking to get through the day. When it comes to meats, this can be a real issue. Everyday home cooks don’t always know the proper cuts to choose, or how to effectively prepare and cook our products. A master butcher is not only a skilled craftsman on the cutting board, but he’s also a true professional. Good service is paramount.

Good service at a butcher shop extends beyond just a smile and friendly demeanor. Butchers can provide specialty cuts and help with unique preparations, such as frenching a pork loin. A good butcher always makes you feel at home and welcomes any questions you may have.

For those of us who appreciate good food and service, and treasure a sense of community, a butcher shop is a special place. After all, what’s better than a beautiful pork roast coming out of the oven on a Sunday afternoon?