Back in the days of milkmen and iceboxes, people got their meat from the local butcher. By the mid-20th century American culture moved away from small specialty shops in favor of large grocery stores selling pre-packaged meat. In recent years, though, the almost-lost art of butchering is seeing a resurgence thanks to concerns about sourcing, animal treatment, and the use of hormones and antibiotics. Two new butcher shops have opened in Truckee in the past year, helping to take the mystery out of meat.
Jess Curtis and Brandon Uresky, longtime friends with a shared passion for cooking, opened Mountain Valley Meats last December. They carry a wide selection of beef, pork, and poultry, as well as charcuterie and game meats. Considering Curtis’ sausage-making and Uresky’s butchery experiences, it’s logical that the butcher shop became known for its sausages, both classics like sweet Italian and bratwurst, and custom specialties like potsticker, chicken broccoli alfredo, and jalapeño cheddar.
“One of the things we like doing is trying to come up with unique flavor profiles,” Curtis said. “It gets us to play with our chef sides.”
The cases display creations like stuffed pork chops and pre-seasoned taco chicken and carne asada, and the shop also carries basic grocery items to help customers with last-minute meal planning. “That’s the cool thing about Brandon and me being chefs, we can teach customers how to cook things as well,” Curtis said.
Curtis and Uresky currently bring in products through three main distributors: Rock Island, Sierra Meats, and Tony’s Fine Foods. The two sought out sources of humanely treated meat with no antibiotics or hormones that are as local as possible.
“[Butchering] is a trade that’s coming back into popularity because people don’t want to buy their meat from places like Safeway anymore,” Curtis said. “We didn’t have a lot of options here … A lot of people go to Whole Foods for their meat; we wanted to offer it closer to home.”
Info: 11209 Brockway Rd., open daily 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., mountainvalleymeats.com
THE WHOLE HOG
Truckee Meat Company is Clent Clark’s realized dream from his childhood of growing up on a Carmel Valley ranch and learning the butcher trade. Three years after moving to Truckee in 2011 with their three kids, Clent and wife Linda opened the shop last May.
“All I ever wanted to do was be the man in the white coat,” said Clent, who took a job cutting meat at the Truckee Save Mart in 2011 while planning his own butcher shop. “After years of talking to Truckee citizens, I knew I could do better for myself and for them … Now people love the meat we bring in.”
Breaking down entire animals in-house allows the shop to meet its goal of carrying meat “from snout to tail.” In addition to traditional cuts of grass-fed, grass-finished beef (grass-fed beef is often finished with grain) and heritage pork, Truckee Meat Company is making a name for itself by carrying proteins that are trendy within the foodie community. The shop offers offal (or variety meats/organs), pig and cow heads, and other cuts and pieces that are usually difficult to come by in this region.
On Mondays and Tuesdays, Linda and Clent directly pick up their weekly orders from small family farms, currently including Creston Valley Meats, Red Gate Ranch, Marin Sun Farms, Prime Smoked Meats, Rancho Chupinos, and Mary’s Organics. By visiting each location, the Clarks know they’re getting product they feel proud of.
“Every single thing we showcase is either certified organic or certified natural, and uses organic practices,” Linda said. “We also ask for humane slaughter … It means the most to me that it’s all been done well start to finish.”
Info: 12030 Donner Pass Rd., open Wednesday to Sunday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., facebook.com/pages/Truckee-Meat-Company/436403769836686
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