07 Apr Cutting Through the Confusion—How Our Expert Butchers Make Life More Delicious
Many of us remember the good old days of going to the corner butcher shop, where cleaver-wielding men knew their customers by name and exactly how they liked their meat.
Most of those shops and that kind of service disappeared for decades, only to resurface recently with boutique butcher shops trending in cities such as New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. Here at Newport Avenue Market, however, great meat and expert butchers were never a trend, but a constant. Locals have sought out our fresh, top-quality meat and pro tips from day one.
And all along, we’ve never lost sight of our high standards. Today, we offer everything modern folk desire when hunting down great meat and seafood, be it for casual weeknight dinners or show-stopping parties and holidays.
Speaking of holidays, whether you’re seeking the most delicious Easter ham or lamb, or how to make any meal better year-round, our butchers are always here to help. Unlike most stores, we have an experienced team of seven journeymen meat-cutters who can answer questions, make suggestions, do special trims and trusses and help with just about anything related to meat and fish. They are available all day—from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.—with the sole aim of helping you, our customer that chooses to shop with us!
Meet Your Butcher, Johanna
What’s your first clue that this meat department is up with the times? The butcher-in-charge is a woman. Meet Johanna—she’s been a butcher for twenty-five years, learning her craft from the big boys (who frequently told her she could never do a man’s job). It wasn’t easy breaking into what had been a man’s world of meat. The 5-foot-3-inch-tall Wallace proved herself, handling 100-pound cuts of meat at big chain supermarkets around Central Oregon.
She was thrilled to make the leap a couple of years ago to Newport Avenue Market. “It’s independent and employee-owned, and I love that,” Johanna said. “There are a lot more responsibilities, but also much more freedom to do whatever it takes to make customers happy.”
Top 7 Ways Our Butchers Can Help—for Free
Whether you’re looking for a quick-yet-scrumptious weeknight dinner or something to knock everyone’s socks off, our butchers can guide you to the best options. Here’s what to ask:
What meat should I try this spring?
Lamb has historically been considered a spring dish, especially for Easter, but it can be enjoyed year-round, too. We carry Umpqua Valley Lamb, some of the finest in the Pacific Northwest, raised eating the tender grasses of green pastures on family ranches in Western Oregon. These lambs never see a feed lot or receive antibiotics or growth hormones. The result is meat that is milder in flavor, higher in protein and lower in fat than grain-fed lamb.
People frequently have never tasted lamb of this quality. “We shock people because they think they don’t like lamb, and then get home and think, ‘What is this?’ because it tastes ten times better than they thought,” said Randy, our director of fresh food.
A fun and easy way to try lamb is to check out one of the most popular items in our meat department—our house-made lamb skewers. Our butchers grind the lamb, mix in sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, garlic, rosemary and other herbs that work perfectly with the earthiness of the lamb. They form it around a double-pronged bamboo skewer, which holds it beautifully when grilled.
Randy suggests dipping them in tzatziki sauce, a Greek concoction of yogurt, cucumber, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, dill and garlic.
Can you customize my cut?
If you want a T-bone steak that’s two inches thick, or to have a roast trussed, tied or butterflied, just ask. “It’s about what the customer wants—if they want it trimmed well, we can do that—and we can cut one piece ten ways,” said Butcher Johanna. “If it’s not in the case already cut how you like it, we can do it to your specifications, and I like that we can do that.”
What should I cook for dinner tonight?
Our butchers can guide you to what’s best in the case right now, and if you want something quick, easy and delicious, we can suggest some of our in-house marinated meats which are ready to be popped in the oven or thrown on the grill. We have about 25 marinades, from Vaquero Asada and Sun-dried Tomato with Garlic Pork Loin to “Old Number 7” (think bourbon) and Lemon Butter Dill Chicken Breasts. Plus, we recently added a sauce to our marinade lineup, Newport’s Own Indy Sauce. It’s sweet, spicy and tangy.
What is the least expensive cut of meat that will work in a great recipe?
Prices of meat fluctuate depending on their availability, and our butchers can guide you to the best value for the flavor.
How should I cook this?
The last thing you want to do is ruin an expensive (or any) piece of meat or fish. Our butchers can guide you on how to season and cook it so that it tastes as if it was prepared in a fine restaurant.
“People come to trust butchers like you trust your mechanic,” said Randy, who oversees all of the market’s fresh food and is also a journeyman meat-cutter. “It’s really important to develop a relationship with your butcher, because you want them taking care of you—Am I getting the right cut? Can you pick the best piece out for me? We want you to come back and say, ‘That was awesome, can you pick out another?’”
Can I order something special?
Our case is extensive, but if you don’t see what you want, we’ll get it for you. We love a challenge and have even ordered ground kangaroo, rabbit, buffalo, elk, venison and alligator.
What Cut Is This?
East Coast cuts frequently have different names than West Coast cuts. We can translate it all for you.
So there you have it. Ask our meat and seafood experts to help you get a delicious dish on the table tonight.
Bonus Easter tip: Ham it up!
Newport Avenue Market is the only place in Central Oregon to get Honey Baked Hams. Plus, we’re the first Boar’s Head Market of Distinction west of the Mississippi, and you guessed it, we carry their hams, too.