More Secrets Your Butcher Won’t Tell You

Butcher secrets© Noel Hendrickson/Digital Vision/ThinkstockDon't throw your meat straight into the freezer in the packaging it came in or it will get freezer burn.

1. If you throw your meat straight into the freezer in the packaging it came in, freezer burn is a virtual certainty. Instead, take the meat off the tray, rewrap it with plastic food wrap or aluminum foil, then put it in a Ziploc freezer bag and squeeze out as much air as possible.

2. Want to save a few bucks per pound at a butcher shop? Try buying a whole top sirloin and asking me to cut it into steaks. Or get a whole chuck and ask me to make you some chuck roasts, beef stew cubes, and ground meat out of it. The bigger the cut, the more money you’ll save.

3. London Broil is a cooking method, not a cut of meat. A package labeled that way is probably a top round roast, a very tough steak that otherwise wouldn’t be worth much. But if we label it as a London Broil – which means you should cook it medium rare with lots of seasonings, then slice it real thin against the grain – it’s at least edible.

4. Most people cook their meat too long. Get a cooking thermometer and remember, food keeps cooking even after you remove it from heat. So that filet mignon that’s rare when it comes off the grill will be medium rare after you rest it.

5. Despite all the hype, most of us think “Certified Angus Beef” is a marketing gimmick that doesn’t necessarily indicate the meat is any better than other beef with the same USDA grade. Though I have to admit, it does look spiffy on that black tray.

6. I know grass-fed beef is the hot thing, and it’s supposed to be healthier, but it sure doesn’t taste as good.

7. Like your steak well done? That’s your call, but don’t bother buying an expensive cut. Once you cook it that much, it all tastes pretty much the same… kind of like shoe leather.

8. Want fresh meat? Check the pack date. Ideally you want to get packages dated that day or the day before.

9. Your mother had good intentions, but a little pink inside your pork is fine. In fact, it’s preferable. Pork that’s white all the way through is likely to be dry and tasteless. Just make sure its internal temperature is at least 160 degrees.

Sources: Butchers in New York City; Charlotte, North Carolina; San Francisco; Kingston, New York; and Timberville, Virginia; Lee O’Hara, author of Beef Secrets Straight from the Butcher; and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

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