Allow me to introduce Shawn. He’s my butcher. Do you have one?
Husband and I are on a mission to eat local. A few years ago, we started slowly changing our food habits after hearing about some of the problems with the commercial food industry. We dipped our toes in by buying things that said ‘certified organic’ and shopping more at the local farmers’ market. Then, this spring, we decided to dive in head first. We stopped eating out so much, we joined a CSA (more on that later), and we met Shawn.
Shawn owns The Local, a butcher shop and market here in East Tennessee that stocks locally raised meats. When I went in today, I told him we had steak on the brain and asked if he could tell me a little bit more about the beef he stocks. So if you’re looking to grill up some beef this summer, you’ve come to the right place!
Talking to Your Butcher
Get to know your butcher, and ask questions. Are you looking for a certain cut? Do you want steaks that are just a little bit thicker? Most butchers are happy to accommodate your needs. They’re also great at offering tips on how to prepare certain meats if you’re itching to try something new but don’t know quite how to start.
6 Tips for Buying Local Beef
1. Let your butcher help you select a cut of meat. Buying a sirloin steak is different from buying a filet and feeding two is not the same as feeding fifteen. Luckily, they do this for a living.
2. Don’t be scared of a little fat. We’ve been told that fat is evil, but when you’re dealing with steak, it’s your friend. A little fat basically bastes your meat from the inside out as it cooks.
3. Whenever possible, buying fresh is better than buying frozen.
4. Cook low and slow. I know. I know. I get really excited about grilling too! But lower temps and more indirect heat (sear first, if you must) will help your beef stay juicy and flavorful.
5. Get a meat thermometer. (A cheap on from the grocery store works fine, or you can go high-tech with an iGrill thermometer.) Here are the common temps …
Rare > 125° to 130°
Medium Rare > 145°
Medium > 160°
Well-Done > 170°
6. I prefer to buy grass-fed steaks for a few reasons. First of all, Husband and I really prefer their taste, but we’ve also learned from buying Century Harvest steaks at The Local that they are a bit healthier. Grass-fed beef is lower in fat, higher in the good cholesterol, and rich in Omega-3s.
You’ve got grilling on the brain now, don’t you? Check out these awesome outdoor cooking and grilling areas designed by experts from DIY Network, and get some ideas for your own grilling pursuits this summer.