Whole animal butchery is the practice of cutting from whole carcasses, rather than buying boxed meat or bulk standard cuts, then selling them to you.
One of the great things about whole animal butchery is that when you get a whole animal in, you can cut it up any way you want.
“We’re blessed to be able to do what we do,” says Josh Applestone. (Just to be clear: he rarely if ever uses the word blessed.) “We are able to decide the destiny of this carcass to someone’s plate. It’s our job to be shepherds and guides for people.”
Faced with a whole animal, a butcher has a lot of choices. You can cut it one way for grilling season and another for cold weather stews. We base our cuts on business; we know what sells from our years of butchering. And while we do follow seasons, we also watch what you, our customers, buy — and when you buy it. Sometimes you surprise us. “We are now seeing people shopping out of season. This spring we started moving our cuts towards grilling season. We had less roasts and stew meat and chuck roasts. But then people were asking for roasts. We’re happy to listen to our customers and what they want. So now we’re selling eye round roasts and more in the summer,” says Applestone.
We try not to let our own preconceptions get in the way of what we cut. “Some cuts are done for ego,” says Applestone. “We all have preferences. Some butchers don’t like to sell lean ground beef, just like some chefs won’t give you decaf coffee.” For the record, we sell it.
Whole animal butchery offers a tremendous amount of flexibility. It gives us the leeway to try new cuts. Recently one of our staff members who lives in Mexico part time suggested we start cutting culotte steaks; they’re popular there. It’s sometimes spelled coulotte and it’s also called picanha in Brazil. It comes from the top sirloin; it’s the sirloin cap. “It’s always fun to try out stuff, and it happens to come from an area we weren’t selling a ton of so it’s win-win.” Its fat cap protects the meat when you grill it. Skewer it and try it churrascaria-style, sliced off the skewer. It’s great for people who like a good separation of lean to fat. “You can char the fat and have a really nice rare steak – a great combination,” says Applestone.
The next time you see a new cut in the vending machines, give it a try. If you’re curious about how we decided to start cutting it, or where it comes from on the animal, just ask. We’re always happy to talk shop.