If you’re like me, you walk into a small butcher shop and just see meat. And meat. And more meat.
Then you want all the meat. You grab your smartphone to check your bank balance and realize you can’t have all the meat. You can only have some of the meat. So where to start?
At the new Moriarty Meats, the husband-and-wife team of Caitlin and Tom Moriarty are looking to take the guess work out of meat. The butcher shop opened a couple weeks ago, with Caitlin handling the business end of the operation and Tom handling the butchery.
“I get overwhelmed too,” Caitlin Moriarty told me during a recent phone conversation. “When I looked at the case (during our opening week), to me it all just looked like meat!
Caitlin admitted she wouldn’t always know what to order walking into the typical butcher shop, and for newbies like us: “Tom is our best resource.”
While the shop isn’t his full-time gig, Tom Moriarty has extensive culinary and butchery training. He went to culinary school at La Escuela de Hosteleria de Leioa in Spain and earned a butchery degree form L’ecole Nationale Superieure des Metiers de la Viande in France. He also worked as a butcher in France.
“I love hearing him talk about where a particular cut comes from on the animal and how that makes it either tougher or more tender, and that influences how you cook it,” Caitlin said. “Even as a customer listening in line, you could probably pick up a lot.”
Tom told me that conversation at the counter is something they are trying to encourage at Moriarty Meats.
“We definitely want interaction and people asking a lot of questions,” he said. “In order (for us) to introduce some cuts that you don’t normally find around here, we want people ask what they are, how they can be prepared and what some are the dishes you can make with them. We haven’t gotten to the point we’re providing full-on recipes (to follow), but we hope to soon.”
Whether you’re someone who can barely cook a hot dog or an aspiring Top Chef, Moriarty Meats will probably have something for you, either a cut of meat or something prepared by Tom. During the shop’s opening weekend, the basic home cook could have bought house-made sausage, ground beef, steaks, pork chops or pork tenderloin. The confident home chef could have bought ham hocks, beef short ribs or rillettes. Finally, the home cook that likes to get weird could have gone home with beef tongue, jambon persille, pork rinds or oxtail.
Customers can expect common items like sausage and ground beef to be regularly available, while the availability more unique items will vary from week to week (the store is only open on Saturdays). Catilin Moriarty said local meat is the primary focus, with one entire locally-raised animal being butchered each week. The shop will also carry butchery products imported from elsewhere to round out its offerings.
“Local slaughterhouses are generally backlogged so we have to order an animal sometimes a month in advance,” she said. “At this point, beef and pork we have the easiest connections for, but we’ve already have inquiries about lamb and an we also want to source goat eventually.”
“What we have each week, is what we have,” Tom Moriarty said. “We’re not a full-on retail shop. We try to focus on what we get in locally and then fill in with other products.”
Having seen some initial reaction to Moriarty Meats online, Caitlin noted that some commenters wondered if her butcher shop is different than any other in Western New York.
“The French model of butchery takes out every single muscle separately and so you can utilize the whole muscle,” she explained. “(The process) does yield different cuts.”
So, if you’re looking to get Continental this weekend, don’t want to go out for dinner and like meat, you may want to pop into this little butcher shop on the West Side to see which animal bits are up for sale.