Chances are you might not know where the local butcher is in your neighborhood. Chances are, some of you don't even have a local butcher. But as more and more small, local butcher shops begin opening that's gong to change. And there's reason enough to seek them out.
Florence Fabricant recently wrote a piece for The New York Times that explored why you should buy meat from your local butcher. In short, her point was that you'll save money and eat well from cuts of meat you simply can't find at your mainstream market.
Fabricant notes, "Buying some pork or most other meats is not as simple or as cheap as picking out an apple. Do not tweet your friends for advice; consult the butcher." You miss out on a lot by strolling into the grocery store and picking up a styrofoam tray of meat in the sense that your serving sizes are really based on how the meat will be trimmed, and how you plan to cook the meat determines the cut. You need a moment to chat. Then of course, if what you're looking for isn't available, the butcher can offer the perfect alternative.
Butchers will also de-bone cuts of meat for you and, as Fabricant notes, many will even go so far as stuffing, rolling, and tying a roast with a customer's breadcrumbs they brought in from home. "How many home cooks can handle a length of butcher's string as deftly, quickly and neatly as the person behind the meat counter?"
Take your recipe up to the butcher counter and talk to them about it if you don't already. From personal experience, you'll be pleasantly surprised. Not only do they "do meat" all day long but most genuinely love to talk about it. And in the all-in-one supermarkets that many of us frequent today, it's nice to have an excuse to pause for just a moment inbetween the dairy and produce aisles.
Related: Curious Cook: Tips for Getting to Know Your Butcher
(Images: Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan and Flickr member Stu Spivack licensed under Creative Commons)