Meat Locker

Your clip-and-save guide to the best specialty butchers in the metro

Because they process these big swinging beef sides, Husnik's almost always has available massive specialty beef roasts that will take other butcher shops a week to order--like the dinner-party splurge of a prime rib roast, or a decadent-for-grilling top round roast. (It's hard to quote ever-changing meat prices in a newspaper article, but in this critic's experience, most of the beef and pork at Husnik's is priced at about two-thirds to half of what you'll find elsewhere--for instance, as of this writing, prime rib roast was $6.59 a pound and rib-eye steaks were selling at $7.99.) Basically, anytime you need big meat, think Husnik's.

Since Husnik's has real, trained, skilled butchers and a wood-smoker on the premises, they can actually accomplish a lot of very rare upper-level butchery. This is why they've made a particular specialty of custom big-game processing: Need your bear turned into roasts, breakfast sausage, and teriyaki bear sticks? Here's where. (Ditto for elk, moose, and, of course, ho-hum, deer.) In addition to all of this, Husnik's specializes in roasting whole hogs, bringing them to your graduation, wedding, or other event, and serving them on buns, with barbecue sauce and all the coleslaw and what have you. If you want to get involved with the cooking of said roast hog (or giant section of beef) yourself, Husnik's will deliver the roaster and meat, or you can pick it up yourself. So ask yourself: Just how ambitious are you, as a cook? Care to try your hand at feeding 500? It's just a phone call away. Husnik's doesn't do much outside of the realm of beef, pork, and conventional poultry, but they are a resource of such depth and upper-level professionalism when it comes to beef and pork that it's fairly mind-blowing.

 

FORSTER'S MEATS AND CATERING
11255 Highway 55
Plymouth
763.559.5775
www.forsters.us

I wrote fairly extensively about Forster's and their cold-smoked dry-aged beef steaks, which are beyond compare, earlier this year, so I'm going to try to keep this fairly brief. Which will be difficult, as Forster's is basically, in addition to Clancey's, the premier resource in Minnesota for the weird stuff European chefs go wild for--anytime you need a sheep's stomach, hog caul fat, pigs' feet, calves' feet, veal shoulder, alligator roast, a whole hog and roaster, or 40 pounds of beef marrow bones, Forster's should be at the top of your call list. They make 100 varieties of sausage and generally have 50 in their freezer cases on any given day. They always have hanger steaks, homemade Tasso ham, and just about every specialty meat cut I know of, on hand. Furthermore, Joel Haessly, the retail manager, has been cutting meat for 29 years and knows perhaps everything there is to know about specialty cuts: He can make a crown roast of pork in 20 minutes, a task that would take most cooking school graduates half a day. Every Christmas he makes about 75. "We have so many different ethnic cultures in Minnesota now, we cut whatever the customer needs, and a lot of times there are very different traditions for butchery," explained Haessly when I spoke to him on the phone for this item, "so I've learned a lot from our customers--Norwegians, Hispanics, Russians, and basically all the people who need something you can't find in the grocery store. Our struggle as a specialty market is making that second stop [when customers are grocery shopping] worth it, so we'll bend over backwards to get whatever they need. I feel real bad for the younger generation; they don't know how to cook the things that got their grandparents through life, so instead they've got two or three jobs, they're mortgaged to the hilt, and they're going out to restaurants every night." Restaurants where, this critic can faithfully report, they pay $20 a portion for beef short ribs, which any real butcher could tell you is one of the least expensive cuts there is--if you can find it. Which you can at Forster's, where they sell 70 to 100 pounds of the stuff a week.

 

KRAMARCZUK EAST EUROPEAN DELI
215 E. Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis
612.379.3018

Would it be ridiculous to call Kramarczuk the Michelangelo of European sausages? In many ways, no: This Nordeast collection of meat maestros make their various smoked and fresh bratwurst, knockwurst, bockwurst (delicate, lace-pale veal sausages with chives), Polish, Ukrainian, wieners, curry brats (popular in modern-day Germany), Italian, andouille, kishka, blood sausage, head cheese, and more (and more) sausages with a level of attention, finesse, skill, delicacy, and, yes, artistry, found nowhere else. While the sausages are famous, one lesser known fact about this longstanding, classic butcher shop is that they also carry Wild Acres poultry--Pequot Lakes, real free range birds that many chefs, and this critic, find to be some of the best birds in the state. Chickens (or, as they're often called on local menus, poussins or young range hens) are regular stock, but Kramarczuk only needs a few days' notice to get any of the rest of the Wild Acres choices, including smoked or fresh ducks, pheasants, quail, wild turkeys, free-ranging domestic turkeys, and such: If you've ever thought to yourself that there are no good chickens in Minnesota, now you know where they are. While Kramarczuk doesn't do much in the realm of lamb, caul fat, crown roasts, or specialty butchering of that ilk, they do a lot of Eastern European home cooking, to go: The same thick, rib-sticking soups; meaty, caraway-studded sauerkraut; and dense, lovable pierogies they sell in their famed sit-down restaurant are available to-go in the butcher shop. Look, too, for the breads they bake: rye, caraway rye, egg twist, pastries, tortes, and more--this means that since they're open till 6:00 p.m. on Monday, 8:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., anybody coming out of downtown Minneapolis looking for a quick dinner requiring little but assembly at home has another option in her quiver.

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