Cut and Dried: A Primer

The Central Texas meat market roundup

Henry's Butcher Block
Henry's Butcher Block (Photo By John Anderson)


Our complaints against conventional supermarket meat counters are many. One is the proliferation of the dreaded "family pack," a styro tray so loaded with meat that unless you're having a huge party, you could never finish it off in one sitting. If you can't finish it, is it okay to freeze the remainder? Has it been frozen before? Who knows! And if they can sell you 5 pounds at a good sale price, why should you have to pay an extra $2 to $3 per pound to get just 1 pound? Why is the beef that listless grayish-red color, with no marbling whatsoever? Why is the pork for sale always one day away from the expiration date, and why do they buy pork that has been injected with water? Why do the butchers cut the steaks an inch-and-a-half thick or cut them from brontosaurus-sized rolls, making each steak impossible to finish by a normal eater? None of their pricing or their practices makes any sense. Here are some supermarkets that take a much more sane approach:

Central Market

4001 N. Lamar, 206-1000

4477 S. Lamar, 899-4300

Daily, 9am-9pm

From aged-prime and natural premium-choice (top 20% grade) Angus, choice natural beef, and all-natural Berkshire pork (the best of the old breeds in taste) to buffalo, elk, venison, ostrich, lamb, veal, fresh ducks, etc., the folks at CM can do it all, just the way you want it (for a premium, of course). Air-chilled and organic chickens that haven't had a dip in the processor's usual salmonella bath. Their house-made selection of 60-plus different sausages is legendary. They'll cut anything while you wait, and their quality is beyond reproach. Manager's fave: aged, prime rib eye.

Whole Foods Market

601 N. Lamar, 476-1206

9607 Research, 345-5003

Daily, 8am-10pm

WF features all-natural, free-range, hormone-free beef from Golden Valley, Idaho, that grades choice or higher. It arrives pre-aged two weeks, and they will cut steaks to order. The pork is Canadian, all-natural, noninjected, and it arrives fresh. Their buffalo is a customer favorite, and the beef rib eyes and strips are the bestsellers. Lamb and veal are available, and most anything can be ordered. Manager's fave: tenderloin.

Sun Harvest Farms

2917 W. Anderson, 451-0669

4006 S. Lamar, 444-3079

Daily, 8am-10pm

SHF carries select grade Bradley 3 Ranch all-natural, grass-fed beef that is finished for the last 60 days on corn and milo. They make their own pork and chicken sausages, with the chicken flavors being huge hits with customers. They cut to order, and can order most anything desired. New York strips are the most popular cut and the favorite of the head butcher.

Fresh Plus Grocery

408 E. 43rd, 459-8922, Daily, 8am-9pm

1221 West Lynn, 477-5574, Monday-Saturday, 8am-8pm; Sunday, 10am-10pm
FPG cuts to order and offers a choice of preaged, well-trimmed choice, as well as Certified Angus Beef (aged 21 days). They can special order most any product, and they stock a wide assortment of take-home products to cook with no prep. Rib eyes and filets are the most popular, with rib eye being the butcher's fave.

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