I work in a store (and one of the only ones even close to my area) that still get whole cows and pigs and butcher them. No pre-cut, pre-packed meat. If you got any questions about meat, go ahead an ask me. Might not be the most intense AMA, but you can get a lot of useful info from me, especially about quality and saving money.

Comments: 403 • Responses: 33  • Date: 

SeriousBlack28 karma

What are your tips for getting good cuts of meat at low prices?

nthrthrwwy34 karma

Buying in bulk is a good place to start. Generally, the more you buy, the cheaper per pound. Plus buying things like pork loins or whole strip loins and having the butcher cut it for you is always cheaper than buying just single pork chops or steaks. Buying whole chickens instead of parts and asking for them to be cut up. Or just don't be afraid to ask at a small store if you buy 5 or 10 pounds of ground beef, or if you buy 10 steaks if they'll give you a price break, they usually will do it for you. Small stores especially, they want steady customers and they want you to come back. There is just no way we can compete with huge stores like Walmart.

Alcohooligan7 karma

What's the best way to store bulk meat?

nthrthrwwy22 karma

You can ask the store to wrap it all separate for you, or ask them if you can have (or they might charge) some freezer paper and wrap it in that (like how subway wraps up a sandwich). Ziplock bags work fine, try to get as much air out of it as u can. Or if you have the money to spring for one of those machines that seals food air tight those work great too. As long as it goes in the freezer fresh it should come out fine.

AdversusMors25 karma

I mean this post in all seriousness, what kind of bandsaw blades do you use on meat?

I've been wanting to get more into home butchering, but if you go to Home Depot and say, "Uhhhhh... I need a bandsaw saw blade to cut meat... Oh... Oh yeah, I'm not a murderer..."

I think you see my problem.

What type of blade can handle meat and bone?

Please advise!

nthrthrwwy18 karma

Well we use 2 different types of blades on our saw. One is for cutting bones and the other for boneless cuts which is rare for us. The bone saw has a lot more teeth on it and the boneless blade has a lot less teeth and the teeth aren't very sharp, the teeth are more rounded. Honestly I don't know what the names of the blades are for if you were buying them at a regular store, we just get them delivered to us. But I'll ask my boss tomorrow when I'm there and he can probably tell me.

KBassma15 karma

I just want to say that, however mundane others think your work may be, I appreciate your role in society

nthrthrwwy19 karma

Its honestly pretty cool to know about stuff like what I do, but honestly it's just a job for me until I'm done with college. Although I would like to get into processing deer on my own, you can charge people about 100 bucks an hour to cut and wrap deer for them

59_Sound12 karma

Is a grass-fed steak superior to a regular steak?

nthrthrwwy21 karma

grass-fed beef is better in my opinion. It gives it that nice color too. If you notice that veal is much lighter in color, that's because all calves ever eat in their short lifetime is milk.

snufflesy9 karma

Is Angus beef legit? Or is all a huge scam?

nthrthrwwy23 karma

Angus beef is not necessarily better. A lot of stuff labeled certified angus isn't better quality all the time. Just know that (in the u.s.) Select is the lowest grade, Choice is the good stuff, and Prime is the really expensive, tender stuff. There are other factors in grading meat but a lot of it especially with steaks has to do with how much marbling the beef has. Very lean steaks usually aren't as tender, so prime steaks usually have a lot of fat marbled in them which makes them more tender.

shdwpuppet8 karma

What is your favorite kind of steak and how do you cook it?

Is cooking burger all the way to done necessary if I buy decent ground beef from a good butcher?

What is your favorite "exotic" (outside of beef, pork, turkey, chicken etc) meat?

nthrthrwwy16 karma

I love ribeyes. They are so juicy and have a great flavor. Filets are more tender, but to me they are a little on the bland side cause they are pretty lean. What I do to tenderize it is cover the entire top in kosher salt for an hour, the rinse it off in cold water and dap it dry with paper towel. IDK how it works but I read it online and it makes the beef even more tender. If I'm not grilling I just sear it in a pan 30 seconds per side, then put the seasoning on (just garlic, pepper and if you like, salt) and put it in a very hot 500 degree oven just for a couple minutes. I like it a little rare.

A lot of the bacteria in meat is in the fat and since a burger has fat all through it it is good to cook it long enough. But if its a fat burger you only have to make sure it reaches a high enough internal temp to kill the bacteria, even if it's a little pink still. Plus you are right about buying better stuff. Organic/amish beef/chicken can have around 300 times less bacteria in it. A little bacteria will die in your stomach, only a hefty amount will make you sick.

I really haven't had too much exotic meats. I like lamb, but it's hard to get real tender lamb. Slow cooking a leg and shaving it is good. I've had yak before, which is pretty gamey. I would make sure I marinate or season it a lot because it doesn't have a naturally great flavor. I had buffalo meatloaf from a restaurant which was good.

DaxCommando8 karma

What is the best piece of meat that most people won't think to get?

nthrthrwwy12 karma

I like chuck-eye steaks. They are fairly small, a lot of stores pass just try to pass off blade steaks or even large cuts of chuck roasts cut into steaks as chuckeyes. The reason is that a whole cow will only give you about 3 little chuckeye steaks. Real ones look just like a ribeye steak. They are really tender, and they cost a lot less than ribeyes.

mud_in_a_bucket8 karma


nthrthrwwy8 karma

Oh I forgot, tomorrow I'll take a picture of myself in the meat cooler at work and some of the equipment and stuff.

Atroina277 karma

How long have you been waiting to use that pun in the title?

nthrthrwwy9 karma

A long time lol, I really want to say it when I answer the phone but it could be one of my bosses family members and they might be a jerk about it.

awkwardandcreepy7 karma

1) do you sell prime cuts at choice cut prices if you run out of choice cuts to sell? I'm pretty sure this happened to my family in preparation for thanksgiving

2) is it cool to ask you where to find random stuff in the store? Or should we look for someone wandering around?

3) is pork belly the same meat as bacon?

4) any shady practices (e.g. sanitary practices) you've seen other butchers do that the average customer should look out for?

5) please divulge a random quick tip for saving money.

nthrthrwwy13 karma

1) yes that does happen. Sometimes we'll get a surprise when we buy meats and there will be some higher grade stuff mixed in with the cases. We'll just sell them at the same price. 2)yeah it's cool, I work at a small store so most of us worked stock at some point and made our way up the meat counter. Most people just ask us behind the counter where to find stuff. 3)yes bacon does come from the belly. Pigs are fairly simple. Pork butt/shoulder (for some reason these terms are interchangeable) is where pork steaks and country ribs come from. The rib loin gives you your chops and tenderloin (comparable to the short loin on beef which is where new york strips, t-bones and porterhouses come from) and then you got babybacks (which imagine on yourself would be the ribs on your spine) and spare ribs (which would be your front ribs) 4)Unfortunately there are a lot of shady practices. Stores will do everything from grinding ice in with the beef (to pump up the weight), try to put extra stuff on the scale, weight the meat after it's packaged, sell one cut of beef as something better. And for unsanitary, maybe using the same gloves to handle chicken and then other things, not using gloves at all, not washing hands, always make sure your butcher has clean gloves. 5)I've answered some of that above, buying larger quantities is a good idea. Or if you shop at a small store a good one is to ask if they sell bundles or if they sell their frozen beef (when we don't sell things fast enough we just wrap them up and freeze them) at a discount.

chowdertheclam3 karma

Whats your favorite type of ice cream?

nthrthrwwy11 karma

Probably just cookie's and cream. But this one brand I can't remember has this triple brownie flavor that's awesome and has a ridiculous amount of huge brownie chunks which are just so chewy and awesome.

VolvicCH2 karma

Is there any demand for offal cuts or not (stuff like liver, tripe, kidneys, tongue) and what do you sell most of? Any favourite recipes with offal cuts? Thanks for doing this AMA :)

nthrthrwwy2 karma

Liver is fairly in demand. Its usually pretty cheap (sometimes only a buck per pound), and if cooked right is pretty good. A lot of people like liver. It's also got a lot of good nutrition, nice protein content and a ton of iron, plus lots of other minerals and stuff like that. Chicken parts are a little popular too, stuff like necks and gizzards are used for soups. And bones as well, oxtails make good soup cause the marrow liquifies and makes it nice and thick and has nice flavor from the bones. And you are welcome, I'm surprised I got even this amount of comments, I wasn't sure I would get any.

Ezzwardo2 karma

Why do i have such a hard time getting thick, center cut filets like restaurants get?

nthrthrwwy1 karma

Most stores just don't even offer custom cuts. Most of the meats also aren't even cut at the store and are just shipped to them already packaged. You could buy a whole tenderloin and cut it yourself or find a place that sells them whole and will cut them anyway you want.

SillyHyena2 karma


nthrthrwwy2 karma

Haha that is a little trick there. Like when I put a tray of stew beef out and I notice a piece that isn't trimmed all the way, just put the face facing down so the customer can't see it lol but that's harmless, no shady tricks in my store.

mamahelp2 karma

Organic, grass fed meat- is it worth the extra money?

nthrthrwwy5 karma

A big component of organic foods is that they are farmed by people who make good wages and such. If food is cheap, it might have been farmed in a poorer country by people making low wages or even child labor. Organic beef is like organic milk, have you ever noticed regular milk expires fairly quick (1-2 weeks) but for some reason organic milk stays fresh a lot longer? A good perk of organic meat is you can age is longer. That is what fancy steakhouses do. Ever wonder how their steaks are so tender? They age them for a long time (upwards of 30+ days) because age=tender. A lot of steak recipes will tell you to leave it in your fridge until it gets dark before you cook it.

tokingnz2 karma

I work inwards goods at my store unloading the trucks etc.. I've noticed when our meat gets delivered (we get whole pigs etc too), theres bags of lamb brains and weird shit like that. What do you guys do with them? If your store gets them

nthrthrwwy7 karma

We don't get much stuff like that. The chickens come with a lot of stuff like necks, gizzards, livers, which we put in cups and sell. The beef will have the heart and kidneys on it but we usually just throw that out. We get tails too, which people like to cut up and use for soup cause they got nice bones with marrow for soup just like other marrow bones, not knuckles. We've gotten cow tongues too, which I've never had but some customers have sworn if it's cooked right it is tender and delicious, you would think you are eating a steak. It made me interesting in cooking a tongue.

samsonator543212 karma


nthrthrwwy10 karma

Well filets come from the tenderloin. On a cow, just behind the ribs is the short loin, where strips and t-bones come from. About halfway down the short loin the tenderloin begins which runs through the sirloin (near the cow's ass). The tenderloin is called that because it is so tender and the reason is because that particular muscle doesn't have any weight on it and isn't really used, so it doesn't get tough. When a tenderloin is cut into steaks they call it filets (or filet mignon). So the backstrap is another name for the short loin i was talking about. A new york strip is the same as a boneless t-bone. A porterhouse is a t-bone that has a piece of tenderloin or filet on the other side of the bone.

TheBestWifesHusband2 karma

How do you get into Butchery? Is it something you need to go to College for? Or can you train on the job?

I shot, skinned and butchered (learned from an afternoon on youtube) a deer a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed it...

nthrthrwwy2 karma

I never did any formal training. But the old timers, they definitely did. They use to have go to seminars to learn about what is legal and illegal like how much water you can add to meat, what you can sell and can't, sanitation laws and how to handle and clean things. But nowadays most people who work in retail simply get their meat shipped to them already cut and packaged, all they do is put the sticker on and put it on the shelf.

I work at a small store. We got a long meat counter, a few isles of groceries and produce and 2 cash registers. I started working there as a stockboy, then learned how to wait on customers behind the counter mostly slicing lunchmeat and packaging stuff (we do old-fashioned over-the-counter service). Then eventually I learned just from watching the older butchers how to cut stuff with knives, then how to use the saws and grinders and eventually break down cattle. I was trained on the job.

iamnotseanclark1 karma

What is something you can't stand that customers do? (ex: smother a good steak in ketchup)

nthrthrwwy3 karma

I hate when people ask to have steaks put through the cuber. If you've seen cube steak its a little piece of beef that looks like it's been smashed and stabbed to hell. The worse thing to do to beef before you cook it is puncture it. All that does is allow all the juice to leak out when you cook it and dry it. I always tell them to handle their steak as little as possible and definitely don't stab it. Marinade works just fine, you don't need to poke the steak to get good flavor inside it.

supplyncommand1 karma

i just recently got into making beef jerky in our electric smoker, its turned out great, what do u think the best cut of meat is for jerky?

nthrthrwwy1 karma

beef brisket is good. I would avoid eye of round cause it's not very tender. If you can get a rump roast cut real thin thats pretty tender and makes good jerky.

NE-Phil1 karma

I make my own beef jerky. I've been purchasing london broil and slicing it myself. What's the best cut of meat I should be using?

nthrthrwwy2 karma

I really like London Broil, but I hardly ever see it in my area. I've only seen it twice and bought it both times. Brisket is good for jerky.

dlman1 karma

I'll just leave this here. [NSFW]

nthrthrwwy2 karma

That was pretty weird lol.

theotherduke1 karma

does anybody come to your store for scraps and organ meats to feed to dogs? I am working on finding a butcher shop locally that will give me a good deal on bulk junk like that for my dogs.

nthrthrwwy2 karma

I was really surprised working there how many people bought stuff and told me it was for their dogs...we are located in a middle to upper-middle class city and people buy there dogs anything from organs and bones to chicken breasts and even steaks (that are upwards of $12/pound!)

kelseybobelsey1 karma

I used to help out at a family friends meat market. So yes your job is bad ass first of all. (Livin that meat life) Second, what is the most annoying/ stupid thing you've had customers ask you to do? I've had lots. I wanna see if they're similar experiences

nthrthrwwy7 karma

Let's see, there are tons. Perhaps asking if they can buy 1 slice of bacon, and have it cut into 4 pieces. The other guys were like "what the guy doesn't have a knife at his house?"

mud_in_a_bucket1 karma

How do you prefer your steak cooked ? Also is it possible to just only sear the outside of the steak, leaving the majority of the inside of the steak bloody and raw, and be completely fine to eat ? I hear this is ok for cuts, but not ground beef.

nthrthrwwy2 karma

Usually medium, more towards rare than well. I love it when it's pink all the way through or a little red with some blood. Not ultra rare like some people, but to me cooking a steak well done just practically ruins it. Beef is a lot safer today than it use to be, you can get a way with eating it pretty bloody. You're right about ground beef, although if you've heard of kibbee nayah (not sure how to spell) its a dish prepared with raw beef. The beef has to be jet red though, darn close to if not completely fat free. I've had people order it and its a pain. You gotta get some beef, make sure you trim every last bit of fat off, cut it up into pieces and make sure there is no fat inside, clean the grinder and grind it a few times until it's solid red. It looks really cool when it's done though. If you got a good steak, you can definitely cook just it in a pan, just a minute or two per side til it's browned and leave the inside.

TristanRecord1 karma

What is the most nutritious cut of steak?

[deleted]1 karma

Flank. Super lean, lots of flavor. Just a few minutes per side on a hot grill.

nthrthrwwy2 karma

Round steak and sirloin steaks are very lean. Anything from the top sirloin, top round or bottom round.

shotguneconomics0 karma

How much bacon? Also, have you ever met a Jewish vegan butcher?

nthrthrwwy4 karma

I've never personally met one. All I know is that they only eat kosher, which is quite a process. It's a lot about making sure the cow is slaughtered properly. If you ever get meat that has a blod cot in it (like a red blob) that means the cow was nervous when it was killed. When cows get nervous the blood pressure goes up and if it's nervous when it's slaughtered it can mess with the meat.