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What is a Boutique Butcher?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 August 2016
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A boutique butcher is a butcher who cuts his or her meat on site, rather than purchasing it packaged from a distributor. Typically, he or she also makes specialty foods such as sausage and smoked meats. In addition, some butchers will offer butchering services to hunters and farmers who bring in animals to be butchered. Although the number of these butchers is declining, due to the increased centralization of food supply in many parts of the world, some medium sized communities have at least one, and many cities have several, primarily serving high end restaurants.

The most important distinguishing feature of a boutique butcher as opposed to a meat counter is the butcher's cold storage abilities. If the butcher buys from a distributor, he or she purchases whole animals rather than cuts of meat. Many do not buy from distributors, but instead source their meats from local farms which are inspected for safety by government agencies. A boutique butcher may have several animals in cold storage waiting to be butchered, and often offers dry aged meats in addition to wet aged and fresh.

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Because a boutique butcher works with whole animals, more unusual cuts of meat and body parts are available to clients. Kidneys, liver, tripe, and other organs which are not available through commercial distributors are available at a boutique butcher. He or she can also offer unusual cuts of steaks and roasts that require more artistry than a meat distributor can provide, and also tends to be more knowledgeable about meat. Customers who want more information about where the meat comes from and how to cook it often prefer going to a boutique butcher for this reason.

Some boutique butchers are also talented chefs, and provide a deli case full of specially seasoned ground meats, marinated roasts, a wide variety of sausages, cured meats, and other meat related foods. In addition, most offer poultry and various poultry cuts. Although not all offer fresh fish, many offer smoked or marinated fish as part of their services. In some cases, they will also carry a limited selection of other products like wine and cooking tools.

Another important aspect of this type of business is the ability to handle non-commercial meats. In some cases, a boutique butcher will travel to a farm to slaughter and butcher animals for private consumption. In others, members of the community can bring slaughtered animals such as deer, pigs, poultry, and cattle to the butcher for him or her to butcher and package. These animals are also intended for private consumption, because they cannot legally be sold since they have not been inspected. However, taking them to a professional butcher ensures that the best cuts of meat are obtained with minimal wastage.

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burcinc
Post 3

@serenesurface-- They are declining in popularity in the US, but they're still very common and popular in other parts of the world. They are very common in Europe for example.

Although I do like shopping from a boutique butcher, I don't go to one unless I'm looking for a specific cut that I can't find anywhere else. It's cheaper and more convenient to shop from a regular grocery otherwise.

ZipLine
Post 2

@serensurface-- We have a boutique butcher in our town. It has been run by the same family since the past fifty years and many people still prefer to buy from them. We trust them more than groceries because we know where the meat comes from and we know that it's fresh and healthy.

I've heard that commercially available meats are often treated with chemicals and preservatives to make them look red and fresh. That's never an issue wit meat from the boutique butcher. We do also purchase unusual cuts like tripe. My mom likes making soup with it.

I think people who have access from a boutique butcher should buy from them. It's not only a great way to support a local business, but the best tasting meat is also found at these boutique shops.

serenesurface
Post 1

Boutique butchers are very hard to come by these days. They used to be more common during my childhood. Some locally owned grocery stores do offer some of the specialty services that boutique butchers usually offer. But even those can be limited for some people.

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