In our ongoing effort to find the freshest, most local food on the block, one of the most satisfying experiences is finding something spectacular and delicious — something almost exotic and surprising — just around the corner. Sometimes, this experience comes from the discovery of a new vegetable (like the arrowhead cabbage at the Roslindale Farmers’ Market) or an unfamiliar combination of flavors in a homemade preserve. Other times, we find newness and excitement through conversations that show us how to look at something old or familiar with bright, new eyes. This past weekend, the butchers at Savenor’s talked about their offerings with such knowledge, expertise, and passion, that a whole new world opened up, just down the block.
If you’re not familiar, Savenor’s is a neighborhood grocery that offers prime meats, poultry, fish, and game — many of which are from local sources. They’ve also got a great specialty grocery store, but this past weekend, we were focused on the meat. When we arrived at their Cambridge branch (they’ve also got a store in Boston), we began by perusing the aisles, speculating about their rabbit meat, camel patties, and rattlesnake. Their packaged selection was impressive, but the real excitement came from the butchers’ corner.
We inquired about local pork chops, and the butcher began describing the delicious cuts from Vermont Heritage Grazers in Bridport, Vermont. The butcher preceded to bring out a huge cut of meat, and cut four pork chops for us — each nearly two inches thick! I’d never seen anything like it. The detail with which he described the cut was outstanding (the end of the chops are the same part that he uses to make cuts of bacon). His suggestion for cooking up the perfect chop? Sear the chops for two minutes on each side, and then bake them for 10 minutes at 350 degrees, or until the inside reaches 130 degrees. His instructions turned out to be spot on and I cooked them up that night with garlic, thyme, and a pinch of rosemary. Not only were they juicy, but their freshness lent them a flavor I’d never tasted before in a pork chop.
And so, even if you’re not a fan of pork chops, I suggest you go take a look at Savenor’s offerings. Maybe you’ll find you love the local meat from Archer Angus (Chesterville, ME) or Double J (West Springflied, MA), or maybe you’ll find their wild rabbit from Maine is just what you’ve been searching to add to your winter stew. Regardless, when you go (and we hope you do!) if you don’t see what you’re looking for, ask! They might just have it stored away in the back, waiting for a curious customer like you. And if you don’t understand something, ask again! You’ll learn more than any cookbook could teach you.