Red meat got a bad rap for a while, but it's made a comeback in the last decade, thanks to the rise of low-carb diets, and research that shows that, in moderation, a burger or steak is nothing to worry about. In fact, beef consumption up this year for the first time in a decade-and at unusually low prices. That's thanks in part to dedicated chefs and butchers who are offering an alternative to grocery-store mystery meat and insisting on sustainably raised beef.
"Chefs and home cooks alike have been motivated to source, cook, and eat better meats," says head butcher Alex Jermasek of L.A.'s buzzy restaurant and butcher shop, Gwen. "Whether it's grass-fed, certified-organic, non-GMO, hormone- and antibiotic-free or otherwise, people have begun to care about where their meat is coming from and how it was raised."
Many butcher shops now deliver nationwide, making it easier to get great quality meat in smaller cities. If you're in New York City or Los Angeles, you're in luck as several high-end brick and mortar establishments are also answering the call.
Here are a few of our favorite butchers where you can stock up on top notch meat and poultry.
Chicago Steak Company
In keeping with Chicago's tradition of excellent meat, this company specializes in hand-cut, Mid-West raised, USDA prime beef. Expect finely aged meats from local heritage herds and Kobe-style Wagyu beef. Chicago Steak Company also boasts the largest dry-aging room in the country and pride themselves in their old-world techniques which have become scarce through time. They "really do provide the Ultimate Steak Experience."
Holy Grail Steak Co.
The only online purveyor in the US certified by the Kobe Marketing Association this is the place to go to get a real taste of highly coveted A5-grade Japanese Kobe beef. Of course that's not all they carry-you can also get your hands on USDA prime Black Angus as well as American-raised Wagyu steaks: everything you need to have a true beef taste-off.
Harry & David
Purveyors of gourmet gifts and monthly clubs, Harry & David provides exceptional delivery service of premier fruits, vegetables, beverages, meats and cheeses. An age-old family business, Harry and David Rosenberg (son's of an acclaimed 19th-century Seattle Farmer) have defined the gold standard in luxury food delivery, since the 1930's. And because agriculture is at their roots, Harry & David focuses on responsible farming behaviors in the foods they harvest. They claim to have a reputation "for unmatched quality and customer service."
Kansas City Steak Company
Kansas City Steak Company was originally a small, family-owned storefront in Kansas City known as S&S; Meat Company, which over 80 years has evolved into the delivery mogul known today. All beef is sourced from local Kansas stockyards and they're so confident in their exceptional service and taste that they'll reimburse your order if necessary by 100%. They "Stop at nothing to ensure our our beef and service remain a cut above."
Snake River Farms
Family-owned and -operated Idaho purveyor Snake River Farms sells its signature American Wagyu beef (tomahawk rib-eye and filet mignon are two popular cuts) and Kurobuta pork (their bone-in chops are a must) to discerning customers. "We are involved in the production from start to finish," says Dave Yasuda, the brand's director of marketing and ecommerce. "We like to call it a 'ranch-to-table' approach since we have control of key steps from genetics all the way to final processing."
It was poultry that made this culinary powerhouse famous, launching in 1985 as the first purveyor of game and foie gras in the States, and it remains a top notch choice from the brand's online store, though it's no longer the only mainstay. From Thanksgiving turkey to squab, charcuterie to caviar, this gourmet selection has everything you need for a decadent (and ethically-sourced) feast.
This New York-based butcher is a favorite of some of the top steak restaurants in NYC, and for good reason. The butcher shop, which was founded in the early 1920s, has specialized in top-quality meats for close to a century including everything from perfectly dry aged beef for a rich meaty flavor to silky Wagyu (available in American, Australian, and Japanese varieties) as well as pork from prized Iberico pigs and apple-raised lamb chops.
For those craving a taste of something truly unique, Fossil Farms offers an online menu full of esoteric options from all walks of the animal kingdom. Whether you want something classical like Scottish game meats or something really off the beaten path-think: yak, kangaroo, alligator, and ostrich-this New Jersey supplier has you covered.
Brick and Mortar/Standalone Shops
Gwen, Hollywood, Los Angeles
For his second Los Angeles restaurant, chef Curtis Stone decided to let meat be the star. The Hollywood boîte, which features a butcher shop at the entrance, showcases its offerings in a custom-built glass dry-age room that divides the dining room. A focal point of the gorgeous space, masterminded by the Home Studios design firm, is a glass-enclosed fire pit. For Stone, the idea was to bring the ubiquitous European-style butcher shop stateside. "Throughout Europe there is a tradition of butchery and local butcher shops that suits people who favor a rich and rewarding food culture," says the chef. Head butcher Alex Jermasek, formerly of Belcampo, cites the restaurant's Australian Blackmore Wagyu, Pasturebird chickens from a Temecula poultry farm, and seasonal game flown in from Scotland as specialties of the "whole animal" house.
Fleishers Craft Butchery, Multiple Locations
Fleishers Craft Butchery, with outposts in Greenwich, Westport, and Brooklyn, recently opened an Upper East Side flagship featuring a variety of red meat and poultry options along with jerkies, bacon, and cured meats. "Every neighborhood should be served by a butcher who sources from local farms," says the brand's CEO, Ryan Fibiger. New Yorkers seem to have an affinity for the fancier cuts off the middle of the animal like sirloin, strips, T-bones, porterhouse, and rib-eyes, but might be missing out on other tasty offerings. "The onus is on our butchers and meat mongers to teach people about all the amazing cuts that aren't part of the American lexicon, like the Bavette steak, which is one of my favorite European-style cuts," says Fibiger. "Our meat moment is about reconnecting with our food."
Even More Gourmet Delivery Services
The West Coast-centric Belcampo was founded in 2011 by Anya Fernald and Todd Robinson after they spent years trying to figure out how they could best foster the growth of the sustainable quality food movement. What began as an upscale butcher shop in Northern California with delivery and e-commerce offerings has grown into a cookbook, burger chain (Belcampo Burger), and Meat Camps, multi-day intensive events hosted at its farm in the Shasta Valley. The company's 18,000-acre organic ranch houses 2,000-plus organic, grass-fed cattle and thus the meat produced has a very short supply chain. "People are learning how diets rich in quality animal-based foods can be amazing for your health," says Fernald, Belcampo's CEO. "Customers are now paying attention to provenance and to the importance of eating minimally processed foods." And so, Fernald has been following their lead and is currently focused on easy and fast-to-prepare offerings like meatloaf mix and pre-made kebabs, along with adding more seasoned products to make it easier for customers to get dinner on the table.
Allen Brothers's 123-year legacy in sourcing only the finest in USDA Prime Beef from the stockyards of Chicago has forged long-standing relationships with restaurants and access to the highest-quality product that you can't find at your local grocer. The purveyor ages its grain-fed and pasture-raised products for 60 days as part of a patented aging process in which the beef is dry- or wet-aged prior to cutting. "People are seeing that if they are going to spend good money on a steak, then it has to be the best," says John DeBenedetti, the brand's director and EVP of Protein (yes, that's his real title), who's noticed an increase in demand for gifting options this holiday season.
Creekstone Farms's choice hormone-and-antibiotic-free Duroc pork and Black Angus beef selections are processed in the brand's state-of-the-art, 450,000-square-foot facility in Arkansas City, Kansas (which processes 7,000 cattle weekly). To give you a sense of how picky they are about their genetics, less than one percent of all cattle harvested in the United States makes it into their facility. Chef Michael Sullivan, formerly butcher and charcutier at Blackberry Farm, is now overseeing the menu offerings at the 25-year-old operation, with sales totaling $560 million in 2015. The innovative company has even collaborated with Dr. Temple Grandin, an expert in the field of animal welfare, to create a set of humane guidelines for handling its cattle.
A tradition founded in New York City's eclectic Greenwich Village, Murray's Cheese boasts gourmet cheeses from around the world. The purveyors of luxury cheese and charcuterie have passed through multicultural ownership from it's Jewish roots, to Italian, and most recently American. In addition to delivery services, Murray's has storefronts across the country, and provide classes.
Built in 1939 on a verdant ridge running between Bridgewater and Roxbury, Connecticut, Greyledge Farm has been owned and operated by Terry and Libby Fitzgerald since 1993. Young Black Angus cattle graze freely, are never closely confined, nor given supplemental growth hormones, steroids, or antibiotics. The owners seek to "turn back the clock to produce beef, pork and poultry that tastes the way it did several decades ago when it was raised on small, family farms." Farm manager Bruce Brown says the beef, which is used in the burger at Mamies restaurant in Roxbury, has been so popular he can't keep it in stock.
The Brooklyn-born butcher shop (now located in New Jersey), which offers delivery, has been in business since 1922. Its new 36,000-square-foot facility has two dry-aging rooms that house over 80,000 steaks at any given time. LaFrieda's superstar beef can be found at such steakhouse stalwarts as Peter Luger, Porter House New York, and Minetta Tavern-and your dining room.
Bone broth has been a hot commodity for the last few years, but for those who want to try the trend (or are already committed) but don't want to spend the time slowly simmering their own broth, James Beard Award-winning chef Marco Canora makes it even easier by selling his signature broth blends online-frozen and available to ship around the country.
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