Edmonton Butchers: The New Breed

Carnivores rejoice; there’s a new butcher in town! Darcy and Alicia Boisvert have opened Real Deal Meats at 2427 Ellwood Drive in Edmonton. If that address sounds familiar, that’s because Ellwood Drive is also home to my favourite Indian restaurant, Zaika, and the Summerside Asian Market. I also noticed that a dumpling joint next to the meat store is set to open soon, and the Pho Hoa (Vietnamese soup chain) is a couple blocks further southwest (still on Ellwood Drive) making me wonder if this part of Edmonton is turning out to be the city’s designated food destination.

The Boisverts are happy to inform the customers that their products are locally sourced and are gluten, wheat and MSG free. All the bison, chicken, beef, pork, lamb and goat (Halal certified) are from our fair province. Go Alberta go! The store also stocks free-range chickens, farm fresh organic eggs, and a good selection of organic meats.

The sausage and jerky (samples are available to customers) are made in-store. They also smoke their own meats, do custom cutting and dry aging. Twenty-eight days is the standard for dry-aging but Darcy will age it longer if you want. Dry-aging allows natural enzymes to breakdown the connective tissue which results in a more tender and flavourful meat—more expensive, but worth every penny. It’s hard to find anyone who does dry-aging in the area. Sean from The Butcher Block & Smokehouse in Sherwood Park is the only other butcher I know who does it but if anyone out there knows of butchers in the area who dry-age their meat, please let me know.

And speaking of quality butchers, there seems to be a few of them popping up lately. Is it because today’s customer is more educated and wants to know not only where their meat comes from, but how it was raised and finished? Methinks so. People like the Boisverts, Blaine and Brent at Buffalo Valley Meats, and Sean at The Butcher Block remind me of how butchers used to be in the good old days: highly skilled and sincerely concerned with the quality of their product.

One more word to my fellow meat-eaters: if you haven’t done so yet, try the yak-cross beef from Springridge Ranch (Horizon Meats in Calgary will ship). After you’ve tried it and discovered how wonderful it is, make some noise with these butchers. Hopefully one of them (or all of them) will start to carry it. Judging by the number of hits I got on my blog entry about the yak, it looks like there is a ton of interest out there, so yak it up a little and add some flair to your summertime sizzle.

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