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In Reply to: The 10 Commandments Of Modern Butchering, No 1 posted by Don, Dueling Bubbas on April 01, 2014 at 18:10:34:
4. Farm visits are not a marketing ploy. They are essential.
I have been to our farms and seen the cows in the pasture. I've patted piggies on the head and fed them apples. Prime is just Big Ag's way of telling you which piece of factory feed lot garbage will be less revolting. It allows fancy steak joints to charge $52 for 12 ounces of "Sadness Au Poivre." And organic, more often than not, is the government regulating just how much industrial drek producers can pump into the food and still get a 'certified' label. I talk to the people that raise the food. Isn't that more reassuring?
5. The best cut of meat? It’s the one most appropriate to what you are making.
I was lucky enough to meet the great Tuscan butcher Dario Cecchini and watch him cut a beef hind quarter. Every muscle, tendon and joint had not just a recipe, but a story. At one point, he paused and told us in his resounding baritone, "There is no one best part of the animal. As butchers, it is our responsibility to offer the best quality meat we can. If the meat is great, every cut is the best. What matters most is each cut's purpose." In other words, if your customer needs a roast for a big group but can't afford much, a standing rib roast is not the best cut. If someone asks you for five pounds of filet mignon to make stroganoff, it will be a great sale, but you'll lose that customer because it will be the worst stroganoff ever.
6. Bacon is not the answer
I hate it when people say, "you can never have too much bacon!" To quote butcher Chris Turner, "If a semi truck full of bacon emptied its contents on you, that might be too much bacon." I hate it when people say, “Everything's better with bacon!" and for god's sake, keep the bacon out of my dessert! It's done. We can retire that novelty. I don't want to see bacon on your shirt or your hat. I don't want to see bacon on your wallet. If you have bacon tattooed on your arm, I don't care. Truth is, I love bacon, I just hate what it has become. It's today's truffle oil, a crutch. And there is so much bad bacon out there! Over-smoked (or liquid-smoked), too sweet, stupid flavors (apple cinnamon bacon? Sun-dried tomato bacon?)
7. Butchering takes patience, training, work ethic and real talent. It is not a hobby.
I've heard it before. "DUDE – I'm a cook at Restaurant Blah. How about I come in on my day off and you show me how to cut some ***stuff*** up...” Butchering is not a novelty. It isn't something you do casually in your spare time away from the important work of cooking. It is a craft and requires real training. You know the guy that walks up to the chef and says, "Hey, I'm a trader down at the Board right now, but I really love to cook at home. My friends all say I should be a chef! Do you think I could come in on the weekends and learn some stuff?" That's you to me. You know that guy doesn't know the first thing about cooking as a profession and will either be spun dizzy by the frantic pace, overwhelmed by the infernal temperature or disheartened by the mountain of thyme he has to pick. If you come into my store never having so much as cleaned a skirt steak, don't expect me to give you a sharp knife and a hog and let you go to town.
Meat, especially the amazing animals we get, is expensive, and every mistake you make comes out of my pocket. Not to mention the time I have to take away from my own work to show you how not to disfigure that rack of pork chops. If you want to start at the bottom cleaning trim for grinding, pressing breadcrumbs through a tamis and picking mountains of fresh thyme leaves, then maybe, after a lot of time and dues paid, we'll let you take apart a fresh ham. And please (to echo Jason Vincent) don't spend your day bitching about the restaurant where you work. I probably know the chef.
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