When asked, Nolan Ryan was happy to divulge why he and his team at Nolan Ryan Brands decided to open a neighborhood butcher shop in Round Rock, “We really wanted to have a place where we could offer the surrounding community that’s been so good to us high-quality beef at a fair price,” but the fair price aspect is more difficult to control these days. The team at the butcher shop, Goodstock By Nolan Ryan is always looking for ways to get creative with pricing so industry inflation doesn’t get passed down to the consumer, but that’s proving more difficult these days. “We try to keep our prices down as much as we can, but we’ll never be able to compete with big box stores,” Mr. Ryan explains.
So why then are neighborhood butcher shops and small independent grocery stores popping up more often when they can’t compete with mainstream stores on price? For one thing, people want to support their local businesses so shopping close to home is a good way to support the local community. But there is something unique and special about being able to speak directly with the person that is selecting and trimming your meat for you. When you buy your favorite cut, and have it prepared exactly the way you like it, you get the warm fuzzies that you don’t typically get with your usual grocery run. And it’s nice to know the person that assessed, cut, and trimmed the meat is there to answer all of your questions.
The quality of the meat is another reason. Most butcher shops source local meats so there are fewer touch points in the supply chain and meats make their way to the butcher case faster. This also allows them to stay stocked-up when grocery stores may have low supply. For meat to be exceptional quality, it should have a healthy amount of fat so each morsel is tender and packed with flavor. This is the main difference between USDA Prime and USDA Choice grade beef—the fat content in Prime is higher than that of Choice and so the tenderness and flavor of the end product is superior. Butchers will know the best places to get their supply and will be selective about it.
Your local butcher will also cut, trim, and prepare the meat with care. Since every primal your steak is cut from is different, there are different variables the butcher takes into consideration when trimming. For beef to have that nice cherry color, the temperature must be monitored with air exposure limited. Soon after it’s removed from the butcher case, it will either be wrapped up air-tight or vacuum-sealed for the next day.
The other advantage to a butcher shop is you’ll find cuts that you won’t typically see at a grocery store. Tomahawks, whole tenderloins and tender tips are especially nice to spoil yourself with but the butcher can also cut-to-order, so try something new and get creative!
It’s also nice to speak with the butcher about cooking, grilling, or smoking your meat. Chances are, they got into this business because they loved to eat meat so they probably have a lot of experience cooking it! When Nolan and team hired staff for the butcher shop, it was key to hire people who loved the craft of butchery but who also loved to cook it. Head butcher at Goodstock, Tanner Wilson, has tried most methods so he’ll gladly walk through the best ways to cook your meat. He’ll also know the desired temperatures, describe flavors of smoke, and make spice, rub, and marinade recommendations for any meal. So don’t be shy, head to your local butcher shop for your next meat purchase and if you’re in central Texas, Goodstock By Nolan Ryan butcher shop is worth the trip.