I'm Jon Viner, a longtime UFCW union butcher working at a store in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. I can tell you how carve a turkey the French or the American way, how to stuff and cook your turkey, how to sharpen your knives, or how to properly disinfect your cutting surfaces. (You're probably doing it wrong!) Check out my video on how to carve a turkey here. I’ve also made UFCW videos explaining how to break down a whole chicken or sharpen your knives. Also happy to answer any other questions you might have about my favorite topic – meat and eating it – or about how to find a good job that you’ll want to stay in for 30 years like me (hint: look for the union label). Ask me anything!

(Also, some folks from my union are going to be helping me answer - I'm great with meat, not so much with computers!)

Proof: https://www.facebook.com/ufcwinternational/photos/a.291547854944.30248.19812849944/10151280646644945/?type=3&theater

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOs_xyukjtY&t

UPDATE: WE DID 2.5 HOURS OF FUN! MY WIFE WANTS TO WATCH DR. PHIL NOW, SO IT'S TIME TO GO. I'M SO FLATTERED THAT EVERYBODY CAME OUT. IF YOU EVER GET TO MINNEAPOLIS LOOK US UP.

EDIT: So flattered about all the interest, thank you all. I wanted to put up all the videos I've done here in case anyone is interested:

How to Sharpen Your Knives: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1pW63E8zOA

How to Carve a Chicken: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NcSxGVWifM

How to Carve a Turkey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOs_xyukjtY

Comments: 1713 • Responses: 95  • Date: 

AstroVan941603 karma

I'll bite. What IS the proper way to disinfect my cutting surface?

jonvinerbutcher1679 karma

Well, the cheapest and best way is 1 tablespoon of bleach to one gallon of water to sanitize. And handwashing is actually most important of all - that's where you get most of your cross contamination. Keep your hands clean after prepping the turkey and before touching fruits and veggies and other foods, that's where most of the bacteria actually comes from.

jonvinerbutcher951 karma

You could go a little stronger on the bleach, but I like to smell the bleach since I know things are clean then.

donerkebab4me82 karma

Can you elaborate on handwashing? Is any type of soap good enough?

jonvinerbutcher203 karma

Spend at least 20 seconds. Wash your hands with good soap and do the ABCs out loud and that will help make sure your hands are washed long enough and use a clean towel to wipe them.

jonvinerbutcher1434 karma

WE DID 2.5 HOURS OF FUN! MY WIFE WANTS TO WATCH DR. PHIL NOW, SO IT'S TIME TO GO. I'M SO FLATTERED THAT EVERYBODY CAME OUT. IF YOU EVER GET TO MINNEAPOLIS LOOK US UP.

erikarew896 karma

Just wanted to say this is the MOST thorough AMA I've ever seen - thank you for all of your in-depth answers! Since I need a question: what's your favorite piece of the bird at Thanksgiving dinner? I love the wings, personally.

jonvinerbutcher1000 karma

Thanks! The best part of the turkey and I share it with my mother is the oyster. It's the thigh meat that sits at the bottom of the carcass at the hip joint. On a 20 pound turkey, it's about the size of a silver dollar. It's a bit and it's exquisite and you only get two.

woolash727 karma

Are the expensive turkeys we see at whole foods significantly better than the frozen ones that go on sale at safeway for $.59/lb?

jonvinerbutcher1642 karma

Not at all. As a matter of fact, I think a fresh turkey is overrated; people got this perception fresh turkeys have been produced in the last week or so, and it's probably actually a month out - by USDA regulations, they chill the fresh turkey to 26 degrees. By contrast a frozen turkey is 32 degrees or colder, and when you get a frozen turkey it's flash frozen right away, so when you thaw that turkey out, it's nice and fresh as the day it was processed. Fresh turkey at 26 degrees, you can get ice crystals in there. There's kosher turkeys, which a rabbi is there to bless them, they have to go through the right channels there. But I go frozen, myself.

capitulator494 karma

What's the biggest mistake you see people make when buying meat?

jonvinerbutcher845 karma

Not understanding their cut or being in too much of a hurry to prepare it. A pot roast, you can't come in at noon and expect to have a nice pot roast dinner at 6 pm. Certain cuts take a lot of time to cook. People need to understand the cut and the proper time and procedures to cook it. Pot roast needs moist cooking, low and slow, you can't get that done in an hour and half.

hold_my_cake216 karma

What about with pressure cookers, aren't you able to save a lot of time with those on cuts that normally take a lot longer?

jonvinerbutcher457 karma

Absolutely. Pressure cookers are a wonderful tool. You have to know how to use them, I have an older one and the older ones can be dangerous. When the weight starts to ring, you need to back off your heat and keep it at a nice steady pressure. I had a friend who over-pressurized and blew the top off. Respect them and they work wonderfully.

where_is_the_cheese76 karma

Recently got an Instant Pot. It can cook some really tender meat in a short period of time.

hold_my_cake37 karma

Just got one myself, looking forward to trying it out! Any recipes you'd recommend around cuts of meat that normally take much longer?

jonvinerbutcher428 karma

Loose meat sandwiches! Put a bottom round roast and put it in chunks like stew meat, put it in your pressure cooker with onion soup mix or beef bouilloun with minced garlic and some nice Vidalia onions. Let it go for 45 minutes and it'll be a nice loose meat sandwich.Serve it with pickled red peppers and sliced onions and a hard bun like a kaiser roll to hold it all in. Save the juice for dipping like an au jus.

Ponzi_Schemes_R_Us430 karma

What do you think is the most underrated/misunderstood cut of meat?

jonvinerbutcher687 karma

Oh, boy. I'd say...underrated, maybe a pork shoulder blade, maybe. It's versatile. That's a good question, let me think about that.

jonvinerbutcher799 karma

Oh, and chuckeye! It's so close to a prime rib - you're actually buying a rib eye steak. We're not cutting as many chucks in the summer as we do in the summer as in the winter because it's seasonal, but you're buying an almost 14 cut of meat for half the price - underrated cut.

OhHeyThere93199 karma

I've heard from kitchen co-workers that flat iron steaks are pretty great. Cheaper than most cuts, but similar tenderness. Thoughts?

jonvinerbutcher304 karma

That's true, prepared properly. They have a lot of nice flavor. Marinate or season it, it's a great steak.

hairyotter107 karma

Follow up question, how can certain cuts be seasonal? Also I am not sure I have ever seen "chuckeye", does it go by any different names? Basically, how can I find this :)

jonvinerbutcher185 karma

Well, we cut things according to our season and what the consumer wants. A cross rib roast, in Minnesota, is called a Boston butt roast out east. So we cut everything according to season. If you have a cut you like in summer, remember what it is, and just order it special from your butcher. You should be able to get anything you want anytime of year.

jonvinerbutcher138 karma

WE call them chuck eye, too - it's when the animal is broke between the fifth and sixth rib. So the chuck eye lays on the other side of the rib eye, part of the chuck roast. Every animal is different, but that's basically it.

jonvinerbutcher206 karma

In the summer you don't get a lot of chuck eyes because you don't process a lot of chucks - people don't want as many becasue they don't want to use their oven.

mracidglee39 karma

What does "almost 14" mean. Is that the fat percentage or what?

jonvinerbutcher77 karma

$14! It's the price.

Ponzi_Schemes_R_Us54 karma

I do love making pulled pork with a pork shoulder! How about something people generally shy away from but is actually a great cut of meat?

jonvinerbutcher119 karma

You could take a whole shank, and roast in a slow cooker and it's going to be fantastic. Every kind of meat can be a delicacy, it's all about your spices and rubs and the way you cook it. Be open to try things but know what you're doing. Don't buy a short rib and try to prepare it in a quick fashion. It's all about understanding that cut of meat and how to prepare it. You have to understand how the meat's going to cook - those muscle tissues expand and contract and you have to know how they're going to cook. Don't be afraid to ask your butcher!

lshic423 karma

Hey Jon, thanks for the AMA.

Who are the worst and who the best kind of customers you have?

jonvinerbutcher915 karma

Worst are the ones who eat half of it and then bring it back, say it's bad. The best, people who know what they want, they ask questions, and they're grateful for the info we give them. I got people who've followed me around for years because they trust me. If you're truthful and helpful, you gain a friend and a good customer. Most of the time, the centerpiece on your meal is your meat, so they just want a good eating experience.

blackmagemasta422 karma

How many times have you sliced off the tip (or more) of one of your fingers?

jonvinerbutcher1191 karma

Boy, I don't know if I want to answer that, ha, back in 1989, I took a whole index finger off! I carved through the palm of my hand cutting pork chops on the bandsaw. It was my own fault because I lost respect for the bandsaw. I was in rehab with a bunch of cabinet and millwrights, because we all lost the respect for our tools. I had an amazing surgeon or I would have lost my finger. It's part of the hazard of the trade, being a meat cutter, for sure.

iamdagr8est503 karma

Coulda been worse though, you could've been wearing your cut glove and lost your whole hand.

LPT: gloves in any bansaw situation are more dangerous than bare hands.

Edit 1: This is what happens if you wear a cut glove and you catch your hand on the bansaw (NSFL)

https://youtu.be/nZHRgj7QTHU

jonvinerbutcher383 karma

Spot on, amen.

treyisajedi93421 karma

Is it true that if you see a cancerous part in the animal you just cut it out and keep the rest of the meat to cut and sell?

jonvinerbutcher978 karma

No, at work when I come across something like that, we discard everything. We gotta clean our saw, we clean everything, that's contamination. Like a cyst, something like that, we discard all the meat.

Atroxa226 karma

Can you elaborate on this? Is that something that I would normally find on something I buy in a higher-end supermarket with a good butcher (like Stew Leonard's)? Is there something I should look for?

jonvinerbutcher477 karma

No, there really isn't. It's just like people - you don't know it until you find it, and when we do, we get rid of the whole animal. We don't want to let our consumers have any of that.

Vincent__Vega404 karma

My dad just retired 2 years ago after being a butcher for 43 years. I always enjoy hearing about cuts of meat that were once seen as throw-a-way cuts like chicken wings or very cheap like brisket. Is there any cuts that are popular and expensive now that you just can’t understand why people are paying so much for?

jonvinerbutcher590 karma

The brisket was a perfect answer from before. Also soup bones - we used to give them away and now they are $3 a pound. Some things, like fat trimmings are now 99 cents a pound. We use and sell everything now because of the rising cost of meat.

diegojones4298 karma

What are the reasons butchers are no longer allowed to give scraps for dogs? Also, just because you've been around as long as I have, what do you think of the change of skirt steak being trash meat to being expensive?

jonvinerbutcher514 karma

Liability, basically. WE don't want to get people or your animal sick. And, we're using a lot of everything now. Things we used to give to dogs, bones, we're using now, for soup bones, etc. A lot of times we used to give scraps to dogs and it was too fatty for them, they couldn't actually digest it. There's good dog food out there that's more appropriate for them - meat scraps are too rich. You gotta cook those knuckle bones or the dog will get sick.

jonvinerbutcher379 karma

And as for skirt steak - it's our culture. People are getting more creative, they're learning how to cook! You got the internet to learn how to try these new things, it's not the same old meat and potatoes.

jonvinerbutcher322 karma

And I think it's a positive trend, absolutely. The more you know, the better cook you're going to be. Cooking's a committment.

bleedingfingaz228 karma

I'm a cook in NYC looking to go into butchery full time as a career. Where do I start? Apprenticeships seem pretty dificult to come across, especially those involving charceutery.

jonvinerbutcher321 karma

Yeah, there aren't many of us left - with Walmarts trying to take over the industry, it does take away from the creativity of being a meat cutter. I'd try to get in with a company or a small family store, someplace that has good butchers behind the counter. You got to get on the job training.

jonvinerbutcher228 karma

I wish they'd bring back the training schools - if you can find one, that's the place.

callalily742192 karma

Hi Jon!

What's your opinion on tri-tip steaks? I grew up in southern CA, then moved to up-up-upstate NY as a teen with my mom. The local butcher is a Mennonite family, and they know their stuff. Anyway, they had never cut a tri-tip and it's very rare for people up here to even know what it is. Now they will gladly cut it for my mom whenever she calls ahead :). I think it's delicious, but I've also seen it referred to as a "cheap" cut of beef. So...Yeah I guess that turned more into a story than a question but whatever. Thanks for the educating AMA!

jonvinerbutcher179 karma

I think it's an excellent cut! It's beautiful. I agree 100 percent.

commissioningguy177 karma

Hi there hello from Scotland and great to see this "alternative" AMA. I think oxtails are hugely underrated and really enjoy them and put them in stews in the slow cooker to give them extra flavour. One bit that I find annoying is trying to take off the excess fat prior to cooking. I am surprised I have not cut myself yet when I do this. Do you have any tips in cutting off the excess fat on the oxtails?

jonvinerbutcher148 karma

Don't put your finger in front of it. Lay it flat down and hold it with your knuckles rather than your fingers. Or see if you can buy them whole and go inbetween the spool joints.

stos313168 karma

Same job for over 30 years? That seems rare these days! How can I find a job like that?

jonvinerbutcher300 karma

We've been very fortunate to be in the grocery industry, but of course that means working nights and working weekends. And being with a good company - as a union worker, we've made the company strong and we keep it that way.

jonvinerbutcher198 karma

And a lot of people don't want to work the shifts we work, don't want to be that flexible. But that's how we can stay here for 30 years in a good job like this one.

MSDizzle163 karma

Do you have feelings on organic vs. farm-raised vs. free-range vs. conventional vs. whatever the hell else is out there these days, or is meat just meat?

jonvinerbutcher297 karma

No, there's a difference, but it depends on what you want to have. Free range and organic, the farmer can't use fertilizer on fields, stuff like that. Look at your meat, the marbling and the color - animals are like people, everyone is a bit different. You can do a prime or an upper choice. Granted if you buy direct from a farmer who can process it for you, you know what you're getting. But i've been eating processed for 60 years and it's safe.

OhHeyThere93152 karma

What's your favorite way to cook a good steak (Pan searing, reverse searing, grilling, etc.) and why?

Also, same question, but for chicken?

jonvinerbutcher235 karma

I like the grill myself, and what I've been experimenting with lately is, I've got a little smoker, and I'll smoke it at like 160 degrees with woodchips before I grill it, and finish it on the grill. And know your grill - certain grills have different hot spots - know your equipment, too.

jonvinerbutcher178 karma

I like to rotisserie my chicken, all the fat drips out, you put a nice rub on it. Or oven baked would be second.

Scitron134 karma

Do you think there's a difference between an actual butcher shop and the meat counter at a supermarket? I know it depends on the store but my local one doesn't have certain cuts so I'm not sure how much "butchering" they're doing compared to just packaging what they get in.

Do you have an opinion on pre-packaged ground beef as opposed to buying a cut of meat and grinding yourself?

jonvinerbutcher236 karma

At least in my case, I work in a supermarket that is part of a chain, and we butcher meat in the back and we're very knowledgable about the cuts. You can get good meat both places - it's really all about the person behind the counter.

jonvinerbutcher143 karma

Grinding it yourself! Much better. It's going to taste better. Second best is stuff ground in store.

citylove831122 karma

For Thanksgiving, how much turkey should you buy per person?

jonvinerbutcher227 karma

I like to tell people a pound per person. An average turkey, you're gonna lost probably 60 percent of that turkey in cooking and waste. So you want a nice 4 to 6 oz serving depending, and a lot of people want leftovers. So I'd say a pound a person.

jonvinerbutcher289 karma

A 20 pound bird and a 12 pound bird, the skeleton actually weighs the same, so you have a better yield with the bigger bird and you can send people home with leftovers.

ILikeBigBlocksBCC118 karma

What are your best tips for keeping my turkey moist in the oven?

jonvinerbutcher280 karma

You know, I think it's your cooking procedure. I tell my novice customers I love the Reynolds cooking bags. You got some nice juice in there at the end for your gravy, it's delish. You can deep fry, I've tried every way, rotisserie, deep fry, but I like the cooking bag best. You can't beat it.

JoseMustardSeed103 karma

Greetings John, Thanks for the AMA. If you don't mind. What are your favorite knife brands? Do you sharpen your own knives, or are they supplied? If you do your own sharpening, what method do you use?

Union Yes!

jonvinerbutcher171 karma

Chicago cutlery was good steel back in the day, a good quality USA knife or German knife is good, Cutco is a good at home every day knife. You want a knife where the shaft goes all the way through the handle, that shows good quality. Forschner.

jonvinerbutcher171 karma

Use your knife for cooking, don't use it to open boxes or anything else but for cooking. And here's a video of me actually showing how I sharpen my knives: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkyWRWvkBbI&t

bassplayer1975101 karma

Uk here. Whats the best way to cook beef plate ? Ive done it once, slowly but was way too fatty.

jonvinerbutcher148 karma

They are going to be fatty because of the animal, but you can take some of the fat off. The inside of the plate is the inside of the animal, so you can clean that up first, remove most of the visible fat, and then cook it for flavor.

jonvinerbutcher276 karma

For those in the US - beef plate is short ribs.

oneblackened83 karma

What do most people misunderstand the most about cooking meat?

jonvinerbutcher199 karma

That you don't have to cook it to death! As long as you get that internal temp right - for poultry 165, for beef, 142, pork about 165 also - you can have a tender cut as long as that internal temperature kills that bacteria. Some cuts you need to cook longer, but some people overcook their meat.

1011Eleven66 karma

165 for pork? Does that mean you disagree with the FDA saying 145 is okay? Or am I misinterpreting something? I've been cooking my pork at the lower temperature for some time, and it is so much juicier than when I was at 160+.

jonvinerbutcher168 karma

Well, we're talking to the masses here, and if you're comfortable and having good luck I won't dissuade you, but I don't want to get anybody sick. There's so many variables - you can eat pork a little rarer, but it's up to the individual. I like to stand by 165.

RightButton66 karma

Gotta ask. How common is meat glue usage?

jonvinerbutcher126 karma

You know what? Very uncommon. I've never heard of it! We tie things together, but we sure don't glue things together.

stos31340 karma

This is why I get my meat fresh from the meat counter in my grocery store, and avoid prepackaged meat!

jonvinerbutcher61 karma

I don't like prepackaged meat at all - the customer's exactly right. You buy fresh - that's what's best.

MindYerOwnBusiness63 karma

What the hell is a flap steak? I saw a cooking video demonstrating a flap steak recipe. It looked like skirt steak to me, and the cook acknowledged it's similarity, but insisted that it was a separate cut of meat. I've asked guys behind the meat counters where I shop, and none of them knew what flap steak is.

jonvinerbutcher95 karma

You know, I think you might be confusing it with a flank steak. It's very similar to a skirt steak - it's the inside diaphram meat, like a connective tissue. The skirt is on the front shoulder, the flank is more on the hind shoulder, it's a lean, excellent cut for stir fry, very thin, with a grilling or braising technique with fajitas or stir fry, things like that. I know people in different parts of the country call different meats different things.

rayrayheyhey59 karma

Why do people love filets so much? Don't they realize that the fat is what makes beef taste good?

A real question... What is the best meat for a beef stew? Chuck?

jonvinerbutcher58 karma

I agree, chuck is an excellent choice for beef stew. It's all in how you prepare it though - you can also use round, but it's a little lean. Like you said, the fat in the chuck will add flavor.

jamesdpitley55 karma

Do you have to wash meat before cooking? I know it's pointless, but many people think otherwise.

jonvinerbutcher137 karma

No, you don't - you'll do more harm than good, because now you're taking bacteria from a piece of meat, especially poultry, and spreading it around. Just put it in and prepare it - and always prepare fruits and veggies beforehand if you can, to avoid bacteria and cross-contamination on that surface.

comtrailer52 karma

The past 2 years I've bought 1/8 of a grass fed cow from a friend of mine. The meat is insanely lean. Barely any fat. How should I prepare the chuck roasts, arm roasts? How should I prepare the cube steaks?

Is there a trick to cooking very lean beef?

jonvinerbutcher75 karma

Low and slow with moisture for the roasts. 4-5 hours in the oven. Maybe your cube steaks aren't put in the tenderizer machine long enough. You really have to break up that tissue. You could also ask your friend to put the cattle on grain for the last month or so and marble them up.

Carroms49 karma

Thank you in advance! Why is a brisket so darn expensive right now and when do you think the price will go back down? Is there another cut like brisket but cheaper you would recommend? Thank you kindly. Stay warm (I know it's MN)

jonvinerbutcher73 karma

You only get a couple pieces off an animal. And the cost of beef is up right now. I would suggest a chuck roast and cooking it slow, instead. It's a moist cut, the next thing in line as you're processing beef chuck.

drbschdn48 karma

So what's the difference between the French and American ways of carving a bird?

jonvinerbutcher74 karma

Glad you asked! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOs_xyukjtY&t This is a pretty good guide.

jonvinerbutcher58 karma

The French way is all about presentation. You remove the breast. The American way, traditional, at the head of the table, sliding downward from the breastbone down.

Atroxa44 karma

I have a steak question. What is the best way to heat up leftover steak? I've heard various things but I really enjoy my steak rare. Is it possible to heat it up without overcooking it to death?

jonvinerbutcher56 karma

Yeah, I would broil it at a low heat - I don't liek the microwave - I'd broil it or pan fry it lightly. Just warm it, you don't want to lose that redness, that rareness - low heat, broil low.

jonvinerbutcher45 karma

Make sure the broiler has been going for five minutes - preheat to broil low. And watch it, make sure you don't overcook. You just want to bring it back up. But don't microwave or put it in a skillet.

Cravatitude44 karma

How should I go about ageing steak? And what cut should I go for?

jonvinerbutcher80 karma

Controlled refrigeration. In a dry cool area. No moisture, keep it dry and cool, below 42 degrees. You're letting that muscle tissue break down, and so you want to cut off the bad and get down into your center. We do it mostly in a primal form at the store, rather than steak - age a big cut because you're going to have waste.

CognitiveRedaction41 karma

Hello Mr. Viner! I am currently training as a butcher in Toronto, and I was wondering if you had any tips, books, or insight that may be helpful? Anything would be greatly appreciated!

jonvinerbutcher107 karma

Learn your angles first, speed will come. Don't try to go too fast. Stay with the flow of your shop, and learn your cuts and angles first. Cutting meat on the saw, the whole thing is taking your primal and getting the best yield out of it. Speed will come later. And don't cut your finger off! Respect the saw.

jonvinerbutcher83 karma

And in knifing, don't saw - make smooth strokes, let the knife do the work.

stos31341 karma

How do you feel about pop up timers?

jonvinerbutcher118 karma

I don’t trust pop up timers. They’re not reliable. They put the same size timer in different birds – same in a ten pound turkey as a 20 pound turkey. Get a good meat thermometer. Thickest part of the breast should be 165 and check the innermost part of the thigh, should be 175 degrees.

Sixty91140 karma

I've been farming since I was a little boy and in the food industry for a year. I've always dreamed of being a butcher and maybe even owning a deli. My question is, should this remain a dream, or is butchering a feasible career path as a 22 year old? I've loved cooking and raising my meats, and I can forsee myself staying in the food industry. If I have to leave my small town in order to chase something, I will.

jonvinerbutcher44 karma

Depends on the store you get in with. If you are in with a union shop, it's still possible. We still need good young people.

bestdressed200439 karma

I'm trying to get better at cooking, and really all my experience with meat knowledge comes from watching the people prepare it on diners drive ins and dives. What are some tips you have when preparing beef and chicken to help it taste great?

jonvinerbutcher49 karma

Use seasoning you like - everyone's different. Go to YouTube and start out slow. Use powders, not salts, so you don't oversalt things. Garlic powder for example. Don't try to rush it. Be patient with yourself. Use a cooking bag.

Jamabope35 karma

I get pretty irate when people i know prepare their meals with near blunt knives. My mum was slicing....AHEM mashing...tomatoes and i asked her to see the knife and it was so blunt i proved it to her by running it straight across my hand without even a mark left.

How do you get through to people to sharpen AND KEEP their knives sharp ?!

No matter how many times ive tried my mum wont catch on, even after sharpening every knife for her by hand, she does nothing and wonders why things keep slipping off the board. My girlfriend on the other hand used to use fine serrated teeth knives for EVERYTHING - after buying her a nice knife set and knife steel she absolutely swears by it and tries to convert others when it comes up in conversation.

jonvinerbutcher88 karma

Just do it for her. You gotta look out for your mom. It's a matter of safety. You could also look at an automatic knife sharpener, they aren't the best if you're serious, but it'll prevent the worst.

yyajeet18 karma

any tips for cutting around the collarbone on a duck? i've been doing butchery work at my restaurant for the last few months but i struggle with getting around the bone and leave a ton of meat around the bone and in the pocket under it.

jonvinerbutcher25 karma

Hug that pocket and bone - get your knife under there. It's similar to when you get into that hip socket, just as in deer, you want to just hug that bone with a nice sharp knife. Go with a thinner knife, don't go with an inch knife - I've got knives I use just for getting in there when I do venison - make sure it's sharp.

Oergg17 karma

Hey Jon, big fan of your union. I've been thinking about getting a small 2nd fridge for dry aging, but I'm really reluctant to OWN A SECOND FRIDGE just to dry age meat. I'm just one person and THAT'S ALOT OF STEAK. Can I freeze dry aged meat after dry aging it and cutting it, or would that harm the taste?

jonvinerbutcher85 karma

I think you could freeze it, but why not use that second fridge as a beer fridge? I mean everybody has to have a beer fridge!

jonvinerbutcher34 karma

If you're going to freeze it, you should invest in a vacuum sealer. The modern freezers have constantly running fans that seek out moisture and cause freezer burn.

squishynurse16 karma

What’s your favorite kind of cheese 🧀?

jonvinerbutcher37 karma

WE buy cheese at our farmer's market, and the guy makes a garlic provolone, and they make a horseradish that's just great also.

eljo55513 karma

The best poultry I've ever had were the 6 pound or heavier "roaster" chickens. I haven't seen them in years despite working with my local meat market, everything is "young chickens" or fryers.

Is it possible to get large chickens anywhere?

jonvinerbutcher18 karma

We get big roasting hens, you can get them in your frozen section, a capon or a local farmer, they can get or order them for you.

lurking_digger13 karma

Howdy, who's got the best thumbs in the business?

jonvinerbutcher15 karma

Ha, what does that mean? Elaborate please!

SomethingFoul10 karma

Any tips for saving the chain on a PSMO tenderloin? I buy whole and butcher at home, but the chain always get me. There's so much good meat in there but it's locked up by so much connective tissue!

jonvinerbutcher9 karma

Try taking it off, just kind of scoop it out, from a bigger tenderloin. We'll use it for stew meat, or fry it up for beef burgundy, use it for stroganoff. That's why tenderloin is so expensive, there is so much waste to it.

killjoy444310 karma

unrelated to meat, but i used to work in a butchers as a Saturday lad and some pretty hilarious/wired shit used to happen thanks to the total immaturity of most of the staff. do you have any stories like that to tell?

jonvinerbutcher18 karma

I've got many stories like that, but I don't kiss and tell.

clics9 karma

So being from MN, you're a Vikings fan right?

jonvinerbutcher22 karma

Absolutely! I bleed purple.

honusmangrove8 karma

Hi there and thanks for the AmA! My favorite cut of meat is hangar steak, but it’s very difficult to find. In your opinion, why isn’t it more popular?

jonvinerbutcher17 karma

Because you only get two on each animal, so it's just supply and demand. Have your local folks save them for you, or put in a request - if you ask they should save them. Order ahead of time!

jonvinerbutcher13 karma

I tell people all the time to order ahead of time - then it's waiting for you, and you know we have it. If you come in and have a special order, we can't cross-contaminate, so it might take a while if you want a different cut.

otto_pfister8 karma

How long is too long for brining a turkey?

jonvinerbutcher16 karma

In brining a turkey you gotta make sure it's the amount of solution that's already in it. If you're gonna brine it, don't get a self-basted turkey. All turkeys have a little solution, like the Butterball, it's already pumped, so for brining, get the least amount of solution you can find - an organic turkey, maybe 3 percent, maybe won't have any. But you can brine it up to 24 hours before.

jonvinerbutcher14 karma

Have it in the refrigerator, covered, so no air can get it. If you use nitrates you can go a couple of days, but you're changing the molecular structure - you're curing it. It's like a smoked ham, or Canadian bacon, you're using nitrates to change the structure. But you can just use a brown sugar solution.

Dregoran8 karma

I know if ground beef is fresh ground you can get away with a burger that is a little pink in the middle. That said, is it safe to do the same with prepackaged burgers or better off cooking well? Thanks for the AMA.

jonvinerbutcher22 karma

Better off cooking well. I don't like prepackaged burger, they're processing fifteen hundred pounds at a crack, and I've noticed when you get chub, you get chunks of fat in there. I like fresh hamburger the butcher grinds from our daily trim, our ground 80/20. Back when I started, we had lean, extra lean and regular. Now you got ground round, ground chuck, ground sirloin - I'd rather just grind fresh, period. The juice should be clear, not red, when you're cooking.

thesmellygoat6 karma

I have a 6.75 lb boneless prime rib for turkey day. Should I tie it up before roasting and is there a formula for the time per pound?

jonvinerbutcher13 karma

Boy, there's so many theories on that. Some roast at 500, some bake at 350, I go to my rotisserie, set it, and forget it. I've never had a bad prime rib since then. But there's so many variables, you can't give one answer. But I do recommend tying up a prime rib, yes. Just ask your butcher to tie it.

bpdexter854 karma

How does one make a career out of your trade? I see most butchers get paid like nothing, yet some people make careers out of it. What is the difference there?

jonvinerbutcher16 karma

If you can get into a union shop, like I have, you should. Our wage might not be as high as some of the other tradespeople but we have great insurance and benefits. I get vacation and sick leave every year. It really makes it able to you have a career. It also literally saved my wife's life when she had an embolism in her aorta. We didn't pay a cent and it was hundreds of thousands of dollars.

laalpacagrande4 karma

When should I defrost my turkey?

jonvinerbutcher11 karma

Two days ago ;)! It goes by weight. If you do it in cold water, you need to do it 30 minutes per pound in cold water and you change the water every 30 minutes. DO NOT DO IT AT ROOM TEMPERATURE!

Reasonabullshit4 karma

I’m making a turducken this year. The recipe says to debone all three birds except drumsticks before prepping and cooking. Is deboning necessary? Or would it do more harm than good (flavor-wise)?

yyajeet27 karma

not OP but in my experience, you're going to have a hard time shoving the birds up each other's asses and keeping them there with backs and breasts.

jonvinerbutcher18 karma

Ha, exactly.

jonvinerbutcher12 karma

No, you have to debone just to get it in there! You have to have the flexibility to get it in that chest cavity. You can go to this video and see how to get that bone out of there. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NcSxGVWifM&t

thatgrrrl1174 karma

Hey there and thanks for doing this. Very interesting stuff!

My question is how did you get into being a butcher? Like what made you decide to choose butchery as your career.

jonvinerbutcher7 karma

I had a wonderful neighbor where I grew up that ran the local market. He was always in a good mood and he inspired me. He told me people are always going to have to eat or get sick, so either do food or medical industries. I liked processing my own deer and working with my hands...

TheManWhoHasThePlan4 karma

I've asked the supermarket butchers to if they could cut my bacon thick but evidentally it's against policy they say, is this a pain in the ass task or will most butcher shops do it if I ask?

jonvinerbutcher7 karma

I don't cut slab bacon in my shop. But it shouldn't be that hard to do.

climbingrocks2day3 karma

What is the real difference in the meat when prepared “halal” or “kosher” vs modern methods?

jonvinerbutcher6 karma

I'm honestly not too familiar with different religious slaughter methods - since I work as a butcher, that's someone else's AmA!

jonvinerbutcher7 karma

I'll tell you what though - we have a lot of packing workers in my union, and I'll ask one of my brothers or sisters next time I see them!

El-Negro931 karma

Have you ever gotten some beef or anything that had cancer or and sort of tumor that you had to deal with?And what did you do with it just cut it out or toss the cut? My girlfriend keeps seeing this post and is discussed by it but I could care less.

jonvinerbutcher2 karma

Already answered this below - see down a few.