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Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Knowing Your Butcher

on December 4, 2014

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I’ve been getting a few requests for #tips when you’re shopping for meat at your grocery store. I would first, and most important is, get to know your butcher and/or your fishmonger. Your butcher and fishmonger are there to provide a service, but let me tell you they can do so much more for you. Get to know them, I mean, like on a first name basis. They have great knowledge in their field and they love to help with any questions you may have. I’m always learning something new.

Let me give you some examples.
First, the butcher. Where I shop, you can watch the butchers working behind a glass backdrop at the meat counter. When they come out to restock, I always, make a point to stop and talk. They know me by name because I’m usually there every day.

The reason, I was taught if you have a well-stocked pantry along with the basic spices you rely on, you really need to shop for meat, poultry, or fish, and the fresh produce you’re going to need for that day.

I have a few pictures here of different cuts of meat.

Second, I learned a few things from my butcher over the years about how to prep certain cuts of meat. Which types of meat are better when they are marinated. What to look for with ground meats and how to properly handle poultry. They told me that if there was something I needed from them not to hesitate to ask. I took those words to heart.

If I see that a certain cut of meat is on sale, and I need it to be ground up, I know I can ask and it’s no problem. Sometimes ground meat may not be on sale, and chicken cutlets are expensive. Having built a relationship with my butcher, I can just pick the kind of meat I want and (s)he’ll prepare whatever I need. All I’m saying is, just because certain meats are packaged in a particular way doesn’t mean that your only option. Ask your butcher to customize the cut of meat you want into the style you need.

Below was a  boneless pork loin I had my butcher grind up for me.

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Skin-On Boneless Chicken Breasts

For example, your recipe may call for chicken breasts that are boneless but you need the skin to remain intact. What about a recipe that calls for chicken cutlets.

Boneless chicken breasts are less expensive per-pound than chicken cutlets. I believe it’s because chicken has already been thinly sliced and you’re paying for that convenience. Stop and talk to your butcher, ask him or her, if they wouldn’t mind slicing a package of chicken breasts into cutlets. I’m sure they’d be glad to do it for you. Saving a few dollars here and there really helps.

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Third, Fishmongers are also very knowledgeable in their field. They can tell you what to look for in fish, or shellfish and the proper preparation of the different varieties.

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Whenever possible, go to your local farmer’s market to purchase your product. Support your local farmers and buy what’s in season. Believe me, when I tell you, it will make a big difference in your finished recipe.

Finally, when buying spices, try to buy them whole. The shelf life is much longer. Keep them in a cool, dry, dark place. Spices that you use regularly, of course, buy those ground if you don’t want to do that yourself.

Another #tip I learned is to keep all your nuts in a tightly sealed container, in the freezer, for longer shelf life. Also, keep a dried bay leaf in any type of flour containers, it seems to keep unwanted pests away.

Well, I hope this post helped to answer a few of those questions people have asked me over the years. Keep those questions coming and I’ll try my best to answer as many as I can.

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