Interview With A Butcher
Winn Dixie Butcher of over 20 Years
Haven't we all wondered how that piece of meat found our dinner plate. What was it's journey before we devoured it? Meat doesn't just fall from the skies, it has a story...a beginning, middle and end.
Hi, my name is Sunshine and I am also known as the "Queen Of Questions." I have decided to put my curiosity to work for your entertainment and mine. Since my mind is always in overdrive, due to curiosity, why not share what I've learned with you.
My first stop on this new mission is to interview a butcher and pick his brain (not literally, I'm not that curious, YET) to find some answers to many meat questions. You might decide to go the vegetarian route after reading this. If you are squeamish you might want to stop reading now, but I hope you are brave enough to learn something new today.
To animal activists...don't shot the messenger! Some of us enjoy our poultry and beef and we appreciate where it came from and wonder how it got to our plates.
Your local butcher should also have answers to your meat questions...
Amazon - Knife Set
Quality butchers are a rare find...
Why did you become a butcher? At the age of 14 I was looking for a part-time job. Because I was considered a big boy at 5'11 and 180 lbs the manager of the meat department decided to put me to work for him. He thought being a bag boy would be a waste of my brawny muscles. The rest is history.
How long have you been a meat cutter? This year will mark my 47th year as a butcher. The wages I earned from my trade got me through high school and college at Florida State University. After I graduated from FSU I applied for jobs in my field of Pre-Law. The opportunities weren't available and meat-cutting paid better.
What's the difference between meat markets, then and now? Back in the day they used to actually break the cattle down. It was delivered in four pieces and we had to break the quarters down to smaller cuts. The cattle was then hung on railings. We would lift the cattle off the railings and remove the fat and trimmings. Slaughterhouses and beef packaging plants changed the methods we use today. Slaughterhouses make more profit by breaking down the animals themselves. At the present time meat departments receive one cow in twelve pieces, de-boned and cryo-packed. The meat is ready to cut.
How is ham considered pork? Ham is made from the hind leg of the pig. It's cured and sold as ham.
Did you ever kill your own holiday meal? Yes. Many turkeys and also a hog. I shot the hog, skinned it and cleaned it. I then proceeded to hang it in a meat cooler until it firmed up into a gel-like consistency. When that process was over I butchered it and relished it.
What is the most common question you receive from customers? They approach me holding a piece of meat, any cut of meat and ask me "how do I cook this?" I receive this question from all ages, 20 years old to 90 years old. I always oblige with an answer. Some answers take longer then others, I'm a man of patience though. To a point.
What's the best type of cut of meat for a Pot Roast? Boneless or bone-in chuck roast. This cut has enough fat to slow cook and still maintain it's tenderness.
What's the best type of cut for steaks? Filet Mignon. This cut comes from the lean, tender muscle in the cow. It's a lazy muscle that doesn't do much work so this makes the filet very mouth-watering. I also suggest the porterhouse or t-bone. This cut come from the short loin of the cow.
Can you suggest some grilling tips? First and foremost try your best to not overcook the meat. My secret to good grilling is to lightly sear both sides of the meat. This helps seal in the juices.
Can you explain marbling in meat and the benefits of it? Marbling is the fat (white) running through the grain of beef. This fat helps tenderize the beef when cooked. The more marbling the more delicious the meat. It adds flavor.
Are you a fan of beef?
Where's the beef?
What exactly is in GROUND Beef? It's excess beef trim that can't be sold as a specific cut of beef. Back in the day chicken gizzards were added to give the grinds the reddish appearance. That practice is no longer allowed, that I know of. There are no fillers in ground beef. Again, that I know of.
Do you consider your craft a form of art? Absolutely. Meat cuts have to be eye appealing to the consumer. It's like taking a blank canvas and painting the Mona Lisa. (Sunshine...That was deep for a meat man)!
Would you recommend this trade to someone who might be considering it? Yes, I would. Not everyone has the capability of being a meat cutter even though there are many people who call themselves meat cutters. Just like with any other profession you have to want to be the best. Butchers work in a cold environment so if you don't like the cold, this wouldn't be the trade for you. You have to be a people pleaser, make your customers happy so they keep coming back for more.
Do you have requests for Beef Tongue? Yes. Tongue is popular among the British and I'm sure other cultures. (Sunshine...ewwww)
Can you tell us something about meat that we might not already know? All the fears from catching diseases from fresh meat would be eliminated if all meat is cooked greater then 140* as it's internal temperature. At this temperature all bacteria are killed.
Is there a question I didn't ask, that you feel is relevant to this interview? No. Sunshine, you covered this interview well. I am available for follow-up questions if needed. (Sunshine...awwww thank you Mr. Butcher aka hubby!)
Where's the Beef TV commercial...
Do you remember the "Where's The Beef" TV commercial?
Oscar Mayer Weinermobile...
The butcher and I met while working for Winn Dixie grocers. At first we were friends, then co-workers, then came marriage...Oscar Mayer Lunchmeat was quite the matchmaker.
I hope you enjoy this story as much as we enjoy sharing it ... Oscar Mayer & Winn Dixie
© 2011 Linda Bilyeu