The Applestones of Fleisher's
What "Well-Raised" Means
Fleisher's is picky. Very picky. They maintain strict requirements about the meat sold in the butcher shop. They are also excellent guidelines for anyone interested in high quality, ethically raised meat:
- Animals come from farms within a 150-mile radius of the shop
- Ideally animals are born and raised on the same farm
- No meat from animals treated antibiotics or given hormones
- Animals are raised on pasture; they are outside on pasture their entire lives, even if given additional feed (like pastured pork and pastured chicken
- Any grain given to the animals must be locally grown
- Animals must be processed as local slaughterhouse and travel for the animals must be as minimal as possible
That is the meat this book focuses on. That is the the meat they have sought out and sell. The book eloquently explains to its readers why they should seek out such meat, too.
(If you're new to all this, check out What Do Meat Labels Mean? for more information.)
Wonderfully Useful Information
The Applestones' story of Fleisher's is fabulous. The details about the history of butcher shops, butchery, and meat-eating in this country are well told and engaging. That is all fine and good, but where The Butcher's Guide really shines is in the excellent tips and explanations it gives the reader. How to tie a roast, ideas for creating custom meat rubs, tips on cuts of meat less familiar to most consumers – it is, quite simply, the kind of advice one used to be able to depend on one's local butcher for.
For each animal The Butcher's Guide explains what the primal (the very large first cuts a butcher makes) and subprimal (smaller, consumer-friendly cuts) cuts are. Pork, for example, is divided into the shoulder, loin, belly, and leg first. Then these sections are broken into butt, picnic ham, and shank; Sirloin top, center cut sirloin, rib loin, and baby back ribs; belly and spare ribs; top round, ham, and shank respectively (as well as the jowl and cheek, ear and head, too, of course). A simple chart makes the relationship between different cuts clear, and the accompanying text suggests cooking methods.
So whether the reader has access to "well-raised" meat or not, The Butcher's Guide delivers solid, useful information.
Simple, Tasty Recipes
Along with tips on cuts and ways of cooking, The Butcher's Guide offers plenty of tasty recipes, too. A guide to how to make your own sausage and tips for sausage stuffing are followed by straight-up recipes for a simple and traditional sweet Italian sausage and a fresh, spicy chorizo.
The Butcher's Guide is an excellent resource, really, for anyone interested in cooking meat. It will be of particular interest to people seeking out cuts beyond chicken breasts, filets, chops, and tenderloins, or looking to learn more about what they eat, where it comes from, and what happens to it before it hits their table.