Unless you’re completely au fait with butchery and have a working knowledge of different cuts of meat, your fist visit to a butcher’s shop can be daunting. With so much choice available, you might not know which cut of meat you want, or how much you need and the process can sometimes be a bit of a minefield.
Here at Mr Pickles’ Yorkshire Food Emporium, we not only pride ourselves on product knowledge but on our customer service and we offer guidance and recommendations to everyone at our butcher’s counter. After all, even the most knowledgeable of cooks might like to try something new.
Next time you pop into our Abbeydale Road store, just let us know what you’re cooking and we’ll help you find the right cut for your tastes and budget. We can even work out how much you’ll need too. And because we all like to know exactly what we’re buying before we agree to it, we can show you how much 300g of mince looks like before we seal the box, and we will always ask how thick you’d like your steak and slice it in front of you.
Here are our top tips for getting the absolute best service at a butcher’s shop.
1) Keep an open mind
Sometimes you might go to your local butcher’s with something in mind, but then buy something completely different because it looked good. Unlike the vacuum packed meat available in supermarkets, meat in a butcher’s counter will be on display enabling you to have a good look at everything before you make your choice. So, if you’re looking for something quick and easy to cook for tea one night, try keeping an open mind when you get to the shop and then you can take your pick of the best chops and steaks that are in the counter.
2) Talking numbers
How much meat you’d like to serve per person does depend on appetites, but we recommend around 200g to 250g per person. Of course, you might want to go over this when buying steak, or under if you just want a little meat to go in with your veggies for a stir fry. But this is a good guide to follow, especially if you’re buying a roasting joint. If you prefer to judge by sight a good butcher will always let you see how much you are buying if asked and will always slice a steak to your required thickness.
3) Cooking times
Different cuts have different cooking times and if you’re unsure, a good butcher will be able to advise. It might be helpful to separate meat cuts into two different categories. Meat that requires a low and slow cook is great in the slow cooker, or a long braise in a low temperature oven. Cuts that favour this low and slow approach include beef brisket, shoulder of lamb, pork hock and short ribs. On the other hand, steaks prefer a fast and hot cook and many only need a minute or two on each side in a very hot pan. Of course there are no hard and fast rules and some quick cook steaks, such as featherblade and skirt, also fare very well in a slow braise. And some roasting joints, such as topside and salmon cut, are somewhere in between the low and slow and fast and hot techniques. So, if in doubt, just ask.
4) Cooking tips
If you have an idea of what you’d like to cook, but aren’t too sure which cut you need, just ask as any good butcher will be able to recommend something for you. Likewise, if you’re not sure what you fancy just ask what’s good at the moment and for some tips on how to cook it. All butchers pride themselves on their knowledge of the meat they prepare and sell. And with a lot of butchers cooking at home they’ll be happy to share recipe ideas with you too.
5) Ask questions
Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. A good butcher will relish the opportunity to talk about their produce and will enjoy a good natter! Another good sign is how much he or she knows about the provenance of the meat. Some will be able to tell you which abattoir it came from, but a good butcher will be able to tell you which farm the meat came from and will probably work closely with a couple of local farmers. This means that they’ll have an in-depth knowledge of how the animals are reared – even down to what they’re fed!
If you’re interested in the provenance of the food you eat and like to try something new, pop into our Abbeydale Road based store and head over to the butcher’s counter. We’re open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week, and we stock a full range of beef, lamb and chicken along with a selection of the most popular cuts of pork.