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Custom Meats

December 18, 2011

I have many childhood memories of being dragged to multiple stores on the south side of Chicago to get various sundries.  We headed to County Fair, the big supermarket, for staples, Dicola’s for fish, Java Express for coffee beans and always to Belmont Foods for meat and produce. I never understood the extra stop at the small neighborhood market known as Belmont Foods. I didn’t get the need to take a number and wait to ask a butcher to cut up our meat. Why couldn’t we be like all the other families that I knew who bought their roasts prepackaged in the refrigerator section at County Fair?

30 Years later I get it.  Having the option to cut your rib eye to the desired thickness or asking for the giblets along with your whole fryer chicken can turn a good meal into a great one. Teton Valley has seen the tradition of custom cut meats taken to a different degree over the years. Valley residents often purchase half or whole farm animals or take the bounties of their hunts to meat packing plants like Rammell in Tetonia or Jones in Rigby. If you, like me, did not purchase a large animal but still want some local meat, there are still options.

Derek Ellis of Ellis Custom Meats has given us new options. Derek left the valley a year and a half ago to go to butcher school in New York. When he returned he set up shop and has been processing animals for individuals, as well as selling meat cuts, sausages and bacon to those of us who are interested. Last Thursday he had a holiday meat selling party at the Wildwood Room in Victor. A few other vendors also sold their wares, mainly hot sauces, farm fresh eggs, beeswax candles and locally designed cloth grocery bags. The Wildwood Room was serving dinner and drinks. Many people took the opportunity to hang out and drink beer somewhere different than the Knotty or the Wolf. Derek had several sausages on hand, as well as bacon, pork chops and a spread called pork rillette, which is a spread made of pork cooked in its own fat. While Derek called it heart attack in a jar, I thought deliciousness in a jar was more apropos. A few patrons from Ohio got their early and cleared Derek out of much of his meat, so if he does one of these events again, I recommend getting there early.

So far, we have indulged in BLTs from Derek’s bacon and a delightful simple breakfast of toast, purple hash browned potatoes, sauteed spinach, scrambled eggs and breakfast sausage. I have to say, best breakfast sausage I have eaten in a long time.

You can find out more about Derek from his website  or friend him on facebook so you can get updates as to the next open meat sale.

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