Tonight I was making meatballs (or as my almost 7 year old son calls it, spaghetti and balls…’balls’ being his new favorite word). I make my balls with beef and pork, sometimes veal thrown in there too. I try to get the best ground meat I can find and this means going to the butcher.
Back in the day grocery shopping meant making frequent trips to the local butcher for fresh meat, the fish monger for the daily catch, the green market for produce, and the bakery for bread. We’ve gotten away from this and are accustomed to one stop shopping. This conveinence makes sense in many ways-it certainly saves gas and time. But, in most large supermarkets there is no butcher. The meat is ground at a huge factory where its shrink-wrapped and shipped to the store. The same goes for fish, where it is broken down far from the store, preserved in ice or sometimes ‘solutions’, and wrapped for the consumer.
I make it a rule to try and buy all my meat and fish from a person who will wrap it for me and not from a shrink-wrapped package. I know I have the luxury of living somewhere that has butchers and fish markets and I’m incredibly thankful for it. I think most people are so used to their superstores, they don’t even realize their town has a butcher. Look one up in your town-you might be surprised to find it right down the road. Or, if you have a smaller or high-end market in your town, you just might find the butcher or fish monger working behind the counter, ready and waiting for your special requests.
When you get to the butcher shop, take advantage of it! Butchers are experts on all cuts of meat. These days, when the gorgeous rib eye might be out of your price range, your butcher can recommend a cut that will stay nice and tender and cost a fraction of the price. He’ll also grind meat to order, making your beef, pork, and veal perfect for that next batch of balls.