5 Reasons To Skip The Supermarket & Head To Your Local Butcher Instead

various cuts of meat in glass showcase at butcher shopWhen it comes to purchasing meat for your family, you have two main options – your local butcher or a nearby supermarket. While many people are under the assumption that they can’t afford to shop at a butcher, the fact is that it can be just as affordable! There are undoubtedly many benefits your local butcher can provide that you just won’t find at the grocery store. Read on for five of the top advantages.

 

 

1. Quality

Think about the meat section at your grocery store – shrink wrapped, pre-packaged and just laid out until someone decides to buy it. There is simply no comparison to the fresh, robust meat case you’ll find at a butcher. When you purchase meat from a butcher, you are going to be getting fresher and higher quality meat that’s often cut right in front of you. Raised ethically and free of hormones and antibiotics, you can feel good about the meat you’re eating and feeding your family.

2. Selection

Because grocery stores need to carry multiple types of food, they often restrict the types and cuts of meat that they stock. Butchers, on the other hand, are able to provide a wide range of meat. If you’re looking to try something new, a butcher shop is the place to go! You can find your standard cuts of meat along with specialty items like beef tongue, bone marrow or pork liver.

3. Advice

Interested in trying a specialty meat but not sure how to cook it? Unsure of what the best cut of steak is for your upcoming BBQ? No matter what your level of expertise is, your butcher can point you in the right direction. Cost would also fall under this category. Yes, meat from a butcher can sometimes be more expensive than it’s grocery store counterpart; however, a knowledgeable butcher will be able to suggest alternative cuts of meat that will save you money without sacrificing flavour. More so, when you consider the difference in quality, you’re getting more bang for your buck.

4. Local Products

Shopping local is becoming more and more important to consumers. Local butchers often source their meat from surrounding or nearby areas. Shopping locally helps to boost the local economy, while also supporting responsibly sourced meat.

5. Excellent Customer Service

Buying local has other great benefits, like allowing you to build a relationship with your butcher. Smaller shops can have a tough time competing against large chains, so it’s in your butcher’s best interest to offer you top notch customer service. Whether it’s a custom cut, cooking tips or a special order, your butcher will do whatever they can to make sure their meat is the best thing you’ve ever tasted!

Here at D’Arcy’s Meat Market, we pride ourselves on being meticulous about sourcing only the highest quality meat and poultry. Stop by and check out our selection today!

Fintastic Fish: 5 Health Benefits of Adding Fish To Your Diet

Cooked salmon fish on the plateMost people know that fish is super tasty, but did you also know that it is super good for you too? Fish is a great source of lean protein and is loaded with important nutrients like vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids that play a critical role in brain and body development. Read on to learn about five reasons why you should consider adding more fish to your diet.

1. Reduces Risk of Heart Disease

Heart attacks and strokes are the two most common causes of premature death in the world. The good news is that there is plenty of evidence to support fish being one of the best foods you can eat to maintain a healthy heart. Research has found that women who ate little to no fish had 50 percent more heart problems than those who ate fish at least once per week. It’s believed that the fatty acids (omega-3’s) found in fish reduce blood fat levels, which contributes to lower risks of heart disease.

2. Encourages Healthy Development

Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential part of healthy growth and development in fetus’, especially when it comes to brain and eye development. Because of this, it’s highly recommended that pregnant and nursing mothers make sure to incorporate fish into their diet. However, there is one caveat as some fish is high in mercury, which is linked to brain developmental problems. For this reason, pregnant women should only eat fish that are low in the food chain (salmon, sardines, trout) and limit their intake to no more than 12 ounces a week. Expecting mothers should also avoid raw fish, like sushi, because it may contain microorganisms that could harm the fetus.

3. Reduces Risk of Alzheimer’s

One of the downsides of aging is that brain function often begins to deteriorate. While this is completely normal, there are some serious neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s, that can wreak havoc on a person’s memory. Eating fish as little as once a week has been shown to preserve gray-matter neurons – the part of the brain linked to memory and cognition, which helps to slow the rate of cognitive decline.

4. Encourages Healthy Hair & Skin

Many people today avoid fat in their diet at all costs. The downside to eating low-fat is you often deprive your skin and hair of the healthy fat it needs, leaving it dull and dry. Incorporating healthy fats, like those found in fish, can help to keep your skin looking nourished and your hair shiny. Omega-3 consumption is often used as a treatment for certain skin conditions, like psoriasis.

5. Provides You With A Dose of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that many of us are deficient in. But did you know that standing under the sun isn’t the only way to get vitamin D? Adding fish to your diet once or twice a week is a great way to add dietary vitamin D into your system, no sun required. Vitamin D has been shown to support a healthy immune system and promote strong bone health, and a single four ounce serving of cooked salmon contains around 100% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin D.

Stock Up On Fish Today

D’Arcy’s Meats is proud to carry fish from Effing Seafoods, a local seafood supplier in Edmonton. From salmon to trout, visit our store to shop the latest selection. Have a special request? Give us a call and we will be happy to place your order.

WAGYU BEEF: Fact vs Fiction

wagyu_beef_fact_vs_fiction

 

In Alberta, we often take our high quality beef for granted– or we may even be so proud that we would not dare to try anything from outside our borders. In reality, we have so much in common with places like the U.S.A., Argentina and Japan because our industries, cultures and environments help promote ethical farmers to raise happy, healthy cows. For more information, read on for D’Arcy’s Meat Market’s guide to Wagyu beef fact versus Wagyu beef fiction.

 

FICTION: “Wagyu beef is outside of Japan.”

FACT: Wagyu beef cattle may not be exported outside of Japan, but both their meat and DNA are widely distributed. Many markets breed Wagyu-certified DNA into their cattle to improve the quality, as well as the marketability. Cuts of Wagyu beef are specially shipped to high-end customers including Michelin-star restaurants, luxury hotels and private chefs.

FICTION: “Kobe beef and Wagyu beef are the same thing.”

FACT: Kobe and Wagyu standards have different specifications, many of which control what can and cannot be called officially certified Kobe beef or Wagyu beef. North American Kobe is common and still a high quality cut of beef, but true Kobe and Wagyu products come only from Japan. As mentioned above, there are also many North American breeds crossed with Japanese cow DNA in an effort to improve its quality and marketability.

FICTION: “All beef labeled ‘wagyu’ is of the same quality.”

FACT: Translated from Japanese, “wagyu” means “Japanese cow”– unless properly certified, this may be normal-grade beef from Japan. Always check the source of any food you buy, as it is the only way to be sure you are getting the product for which you paid. Specialty food like Wagyu beef is particularly important to verify, as unethical vendors will charge you a premium no matter what.

FICTION: Wagyu beef cows are massaged and force-fed sake (Japanese rice wine).

FACT: These are common rumours, but they are misconceptions popularized outside of Japan. While it is true that certified Wagyu farmers keep many close secrets developed over centuries of expertise, the effects of the rumoured treatments would have little effect on the beef’s quality– it could even reduce the quality! Much like Alberta beef and other major cattle production areas, the Wagyu industry self-regulates and is overseen by government agencies.

The above myths are only a sampling of the many assumptions people make about Wagyu beef an other international delicacies. For a comprehensive understanding of Wagyu beef, its production and its features, bring your questions and concerns to D’Arcy’s today!

CAN I DRY-AGE BEEF AT HOME?

dry-aged-beef-at-homeWhether you have seen it on a restaurant’s menu, a cooking show or in your favourite barbecue bible– dry-aged beef is becoming more popular and widely understood. Here in the heartland of Alberta, many of us have easy access to fresh, top-quality beef that is a prime candidate for dry-aging. Once you taste the difference, it can be difficult to imagine eating a cut of beef that has not been dry-aged. If it sounds too good to be true, never fear: dry-aging has been practiced for as long as humans have prepared meat and modern science has proved its methods. You only need your taste buds to be convinced by the results! Read on for a quick introduction to dry-aged beef, brought to you by D’Arcy’s Meat Market.

What is “dry-aging?”

Beef that has been “dry-aged” was hung in large pieces– up to many months in temperature- and humidity-controlled conditions– prior to trimming and portioning the cuts. On the microscopic level, certain enzymes and good bacteria cause the flesh to tenderize and concentrate the meat’s natural taste. This saturation happens because the cut of beef loses moisture and size, while retaining its inherent flavour.

Is dry-aging safe to do at home?

Once upon a time, a home refrigerator would never be capable of dry-aging a cut of beef within food safety standards. Technological innovations mean your fridge likely keeps temperature and humidity levels more stable than older models, but unless equipped with an accurate thermometer and barometer– you may be taking an unnecessary risk by attempting the dry-age process at home. If you are equipped the appropriate tools and knowledge, you may be a good candidate to try dry-aging beef at home.

What are the benefits of home dry-aging?

A dry-aged cut of beef from a butcher or a steakhouse has gone through rigorous observation and quality assurance. Dry-aging at home means you can reproduce some of this environment, but it also means you can experiment to find what works best for your tastes. While your conditions may not be food-safe enough to age the beef as long as the professionals, short-term aging has shown to improve browning in steaks. Unfortunately, industrial equipment and culinary knowledge is required to achieve the deep, concentrated flavour of beef aged long-term (while avoiding any staleness or transfer of taste from the contents of a consumer-grade fridge).

Does D’Arcy’s carry dry-aged meat?

Desperate for that dry-aged taste, but let down by your do-it-yourself options? D’Arcy’s Meat Market not only carries a wide-range of dry-aged beef products cut-to-order, but our experts can help explain the dry-aging process and guide you to the right choice for you. We can offer advice on home dry-aging, but we can also produce custom orders by special request.

Questions about dry-aged beef? Curious about trying to dry-age beef at home? Contact or visit D’Arcy’s today!

Smoking Meats at Home

smoking meat at homeCooking food with indirect heat is an ancient practice, but you don’t have to follow sacred texts or carved tablets to make delicious smoked meats at home. More than just adding a smokey flavour– when done correctly, this type of cooking can tenderize even the toughest of cuts. Brisket? Ribs? Pulled or shredded meat? If you want fall-apart, fork-tender results… the only choice is smoking! D’Arcy’s guide will walk you through traditional smoking, as well as do-it-yourself methods for cooking with indirect heat.

TRADITIONAL SMOKING

There are as many smoking methods as there are cultures that practice this type of cooking, but most of them agree on using charcoal as the fuel source. Whether you use lumps, briquettes or a mixture, your meat should be placed above and away from the hottest coals in your smoker. Water-soaked wood chips or chunks are then added to create fragrant smoke as they smoulder slowly– you can experiment with different varieties such as hickory, apple or cherry. Smoke should be allowed to circulate and escape the cooking chamber, so the meat neither cooks too fast nor too slowly.

**NOTE** Traditional or not– smoking meat can take up the better part of 24 hours, depending on the quantity, size and fat-distribution of each cut. Professional smokers will always advise amateurs to allow plenty of time and to be patient. Remember: slow and steady wins the race… of deliciousness!

NO-SMOKER SMOKING

If you don’t have a fancy, dedicated device for smoking– don’t worry, you can still achieve amazing results with non-traditional methods. Some of the best barbecue comes from brick ovens, converted oil drums or even literal holes in the ground. Considering this, converting your standard backyard grill to an indirect heat smoker is easy by comparison.

  • For a gas grill, simply turn on one side of the burners to low and place a pie tin full of soaked wood chips over the heat– with the meat on the other side, keep the hood closed and the temperature steady.
  • For charcoal grills, push your hot coals to one side and follow the same practice as the gas grill.
  • Smoking can be even done in the kitchen! You need good ventilation and a reliable oven with racks that can be separated to upper and lower positions. Place the wood chips at the bottom on one side, place the meat at the bottom on the other side and keep it slow and low– allow for a long cooking time at a low heat setting.

The methods above– both traditional and D.I.Y.– only summarize the many nuances and intricacies of cooking with indirect heat. Commonly known in North America as smoking or barbecuing, there are few other techniques that result in such tender, flavourful meat. While the learning curve may seem steep, the first step is trying and D’Arcy’s Meat Market is here to help guide you with our own tips and answers to any questions you might have. Contact or visit us today!