This week is National Butcher’s Week, so I wanted to outline some of the reasons why buying from your local butchers is always going to be best.
Firstly, what is most apparent is the service. Yes, you can visit the butchery counter in a supermarket, but the experience will never be the same. Training as a butcher in a shop gives you the opportunity to work on whole carcass breakdown. Meaning that we have a much better understanding of exactly where each cut of meat has come from and how it should be treated. We know how to prepare the meat in a way that will best suit your purpose. Dicing, tying, trimming and boning out are all things we do countless times, on a daily basis. Our boards are already meaty, and our knives are already sharp - therefore we are happy to help in any way which will save you time when you get home.
We also know a fair bit about cooking, as someone who spends quite a lot of time looking at recipes, I often think they can be confusing. Especially if you look at a few different versions. Chances are we will have cooked something similar before so don't be afraid to ask our advice.
(I'll even let you in on a little secret. Two of us at T&G trained as chefs before becoming butchers!)
Variety is the spice of life! When you are interested in cooking and like trying new things, buying packaged meat from the supermarket can be rather limiting. We always have a huge range of mouth-watering cuts in stock. Working with whole carcasses means we use every cut out of each animal, so that nothing is wasted - see the pigs head recipe on our website. We will always have your old favourites but how about next time you go to the butchers you go for something completely different that you haven't tried before. Something like a Galician rib-eye, or some heritage lamb from Lavinton. We've even got some Wagyu from Yorkshire coming into the shop at EC1 soon, that has been aged for 4 weeks. Now that is exciting.
Next, I want to talk about provenance and sustainability. Working on a much smaller scale than supermarkets and with whole animal carcasses means we can keep a much better track of where all our meat has come from. We have a few selected and trusted suppliers, meaning that with every whole carcass we get in we, know where it has come from, what breed it is, how old it was and what it has been fed. We work mostly with two farms who have abattoirs on site, meaning as little stress as possible for the animals at the time of slaughter. The animals they send us then either come from their own farms or one of their neighbours. Working this way not only means we know more about our meat but it is also more sustainable as we are using the whole animal.
And lastly, I just want to mention price. I think there is often the perception that you will end up spending loads of money in a butcher’s shop. Don't get me wrong it can happen, in the same way (if you are anything like me) you could get a bit carried away in any artisan shop. But you can get some great deals in the butchers, if you buy the right cuts. Whether it is a cheaper mid-week steak or something for slow cooking, or just two sausages for your dinner, there are always options that will work out much better value for you. Again, we are always happy to help keep things within a specific budget or suggest the better value options.
Just remember that by supporting your butchers, whether it is T&G or somewhere else you are helping to support an independent business and a traditional, artisanal way of doing things.