Meet Davie. That’s him right there. As one of our Master butchers, he knows a thing or two about the subject. He is also a nice bloke so would like to share with you his top tips for buying meat.
Buy your meat from a proper butcher
In the days when everyone bought their meat from the local butcher, or even had a weekly delivery, knowledge was gained from the butcher. You could tell him what you wanted, what you thought looked nice, or just which meal it was for. He (sorry ladies but most butchers were men back then) would then offer his advice on what to choose and how to best cook it. Job done. Also you, as cook, got to improve your skills and knowledge along the way. And pass them down the line.
Travel forwards, admittedly not very far at all, and we are faced with the following situations.
- Supermarkets sell a limited range of cuts, with prime cuts as the main offering.
- The ‘butcher’ in the supermarket is often just a person in a mesh hat and a stripy apron.
- The meat on sale is often of a dubious quality; but with no basic skills for buying meat, and no knowledgeable person around, we are left to muddle along regardless.
- With no one around to give us advice on cooking the meat before us we are far more inclined to say ‘sod it’ and head to the ready meal section instead.
There is more, probably way more, than that to say about the state of modern meat consumption, but we shall stop there. The upshot being that when buying meat, you get far more value if you buy from a proper butcher shop.
Trust your butcher and build up a buying relationship
With a decent butcher at your disposal, you shouldn’t need to know what to look for as they should be able to tell you. However, in a world filled with mistrust and charlatans, you should at least be able to spot the good from the bad. A busy shop, with a good range of produce, is an excellent start. A chiller full of two for one offers on cheap joints and nothing else is possibly best avoided. A lovely display of firm meat, sitting on clean dry trays, is a fairly good indication that you have found a decent butcher. The odd vac pack is inevitable, but a good open display tells the rest of the story. Buying online is a little different; we will get to that in a minute. If you like what you see, then buy it. If you like what you eat, then buy it again. Ask questions; make the most of the butcher’s knowledge and experience.
Experiment with different cuts
Good cooking is all about thrift. You could be as rich as Croesus and you will still get bored eating only prime cuts. If you don’t happen to belong to the super rich, then spreading the cost of buying meat across the week just makes fiscal sense. Make friends with mince, and experiment with stewing cuts. Make good use of leftovers and savvy ideas to stretch your meals. If there is something that you want to know, then ask. Failing that, keep on top of our blog; it may be early days yet but we are working hard on building up a library of information to boost your confidence with meat cookery. Drop us a line, communicate with us; be it online or in store. We aren’t a faceless corporation, but a real local company, with real people who believe in what we do.
Don’t be afraid to shop online
The world of buying meat has changed. In fact, the world has changed; full stop. Time, money, and pressure all dictate the choices we make. West Coast Foods is a bricks and mortar traditional butcher shop. We just happen to be quite good at providing an excellent service online too. Most of the produce that we sell in store is available online; all with lots of information to help you make the right choices for you. Order before 12pm, and we guarantee next day delivery. You don’t even need to be in; all of our meat comes in temperature controlled packaging and will happily sit on the doorstep, or in the garage, until you get home. Tell us where you want it and we will leave it there. No red cards from the Post Office or expensive courier hotlines to phone whilst you chase down your delivery. Buying meat online with us is the modern face of traditional butchery. The meat does come vac-packed, but just for your convenience; we pack it that way purely for delivery. Just because you shop online, doesn’t mean that it isn’t local. All of our meat comes from Scottish farms where possible, and never from outside the UK. The British Isles is a small place, so if you live in Britain and buy British from a reputable source then you are still buying local. Local food is as much an ethos as a point on a compass; a byword for sustainable practice, quality and service. And we have that in spades.