With roast season approaching sooner than you think, there’s no better time to get to know your local butcher. What you may not know is, David Jones is the home of high quality, Australian-grown meats, such as Tasmania’s Cape Grim Beef, Queensland’s Borrowdale Free Range Pork, and Victoria’s Hazledene’s Chicken. In fact, our Market Street Butcher is your one-stop shop for all things meat and poultry.
Ever lost for inspiration when faced with a raw piece of meat? Us too. So we sat down with our resident butcher, Gus, to talk fresh cuts, mouth-watering recipes, and why buying meat from your local butcher is best.
If you could invite anyone to your next barbecue, who would it be?
It would be my grandfather, because I only got to meet him once. [And] I always wanted to do a Portuguese cook-up for him… He used to make good home-made wine. So I’d just share a glass of wine and have some steak and sit down [with him].
How can shoppers tell if they are buying a good cut of meat?
If you walk into a supermarket, you’re basically guided by what you see – you’re just grabbing [at random]. So, who are you going to ask? There is no butcher standing nearby saying How can I help you to select your meat? Whereas in a butcher shop, you have someone there, that is only there for that service. And so, regardless of whether or not you know what you want, you can enter a butcher and say Oh, I don’t know what to cook today. And we could make suggestions, marinate your choice, and have it ready for you in twenty minutes – done.
So you’re going to be inspired by your visit to store. Because many people don’t know what they want when they go shopping. They’re not aware of what is good and what is bad. Just because it looks good, it doesn’t mean it is good quality. It’s what we call “window dressing”, and it’s a shame.
What’s your favourite meat? And how do you prepare it?
Well, this stems back to being of Portuguese origin…I take a piece of rump, I cut it nice and thick, dice it. Then I crush and dice some fresh garlic, throw it into a bowl, throw in some fresh or dried bay leaves. Then I put a good handful of rock salt in. And the reason I use rock salt is because it’s a slow release flavour. I take the meat, put it on a skewer, and cover it in the marinade – just rub it on. Then I put it over the open flame on the barbie and cook it either rare, medium rare, depending how my guests like it. It is the most flavoursome way of eating a piece of meat ever – it is to die for.
What’s the difference between buying meat from a supermarket and buying it from a butcher?
When you go into a shop you know what you want, but you don’t always know where it comes from; you don’t know how good it’s going to be. What do you actually want to do with it? [Butchers] give a bit of background, so customers can walk out knowing why they bought that steak, or chop, or roast. Whereas at a supermarket, you’re just visually trying to understand what’s in a packet. You get more satisfaction when you have control of what you’re buying, with that contact with the butcher. We just have the product knowledge that supermarkets can’t provide.
Tell us something we might not know about meat?
So meat-wise, we’ve always looked at meat as just meat. [But] now we’re seeing it more for its nutritional value. [And] there are so many options. So now we know it’s good to have meat as part of your diet, even if it’s just once a week… Meat now is almost becoming a super food, because people are really starting to realise the health benefits.
What’s the strangest request you’ve ever had from a customer?
Ooh, I’ve had a few… I’ve had an invitation to go home with a woman to cook her dish for her, but I said I’d have to tell my wife first. But probably the weirdest request came from a good lady, a regular… She once went to the fish markets and brought a beautiful fish whole, instead of fillets. But when she took it home she had no idea… So she rang me up and said Gus, would you be able to fillet my fish if I brought it up to you? And I said yeah, no problem. A butcher filleting a fish?