Let’s make today “hug a butcher day” – and I don’t mean that high school dropout kid who works at the local grocery store wrapping up the meat that arrives pre-cut and ready to hit the shelf. I mean a real butcher. Someone who knows how to cut meat and age meat and make a well-raised animal taste as good as it deserves to taste after sacrificing its life to be your dinner.
I recently met chef-turned-butcher Peter Bochna of Absolutely Fine Foods in Toronto’s west end. Not only does he dry age beef and lamb on premises in his store, he cuts it expertly as well.
“No one is teaching the younger generation how to be true butchers,” notes Bochna. “In chef school, butchery class is about cutting meat up; aging techniques are generally ignored. And, most meat processing plants are organized like factories where each person repeats one aspect of the overall process over and over all day long.
“I’m trying to teach my staff how to coax the best flavour and texture from meat at every stage after it comes from the abattoirs and to teach them how to understand how the breed and feed each animal ate while it was alive affects the decisions you make later at our stage of preparing it for people to eat.”
Sigh. People like Peter deserve our business and admiration. I just wish his shop was closer to my house so I could buy all my meat from him.
Do you have access to a ‘real’ butcher?