As soon as you start getting into smoking, you will realize just how much potential this cooking method holds when it comes to a big dinner party, reunions, or celebrations. You will begin to get an understanding of how much meat and sides you can have for one occasion. A whole pig? A side of brisket? A half dozen chickens? Once you see how you could prepare all that from one long-lasting, slow-burning fire, you start to think about how to source your proteins.
Having a reliable source for fresh, unprocessed meats in large, bone-in cuts is the dream for any home cook with a smoker. How you go about doing that depends on where you live, what you want, and how often you would like to receive it. Let’s take a look at some tips for getting big cuts of meat at a low price point and with convenient shipping or delivery.
- Live chicken shops
In many cities and large towns, there are “Live Chicken/Pollo Vivo” shops, usually with long opening hours and open 7 days a week. In these stores, you can select your chicken and have it slaughtered, cleaned, and butchered, as per your instructions. They usually have an array of other fowl, such as duck or Cornish game hens. Also, depending on the population of the area where the shop is located, there can be whole goats, pigs, or lambs available seasonally.
- Small farm operations
If you live in a rural or commercially active farming area, it is worth it to know your neighbors and to ask around for any small farms with meat available. If you are able to purchase half a cow, or an entire lamb, all at once, think of the savings you would be making. A lot of people with access to these kinds of deals purchase a deep freezer. This helps keep the large quantity of meat out of the way of your everyday refrigerator. It also helps keep everything cold enough to stay fresh.
- Bulk stores and beyond
Large chain stores, like Sam’s Club and Costco, which offer deals on bulk purchases are a great place to look for large cuts of meat. Talk to the butcher and let them know what you are interested in and how often you will be coming back for more. Plan around the big food events in your life. You can do this at your own supermarket as well and, of course, your local butcher if you have one.
- Raising chickens, goats, pigs
There are a lot of residential areas that are zoned for small flocks or herds of livestock. Most owners feel a source of pride and enjoyment from owning their various animals. While it can be complicated to care for animals that will become food, for some it is very rewarding. It can be the freshest, safest, and most cost-effective way to consume meat if done correctly.
- Meat supply websites
Do a search for butchers and meat suppliers that deliver or ship to your area. You could place your orders and have them renewed automatically if desired.