There are four Howard County -- or close -- meat markets that come to mind. They're all old-fashioned places, selling simplicity rather than the Whole Foods style of organics and name brands.
For me, they're each worth the trip just for thick-cut bacon and home-made sausage. Those are my weak points, and they're great to buy in a special place. Better six slices of thick-cut, pepper-edged bacon than an entire pound of plastic-wrapped fat. Better meaty sausage at the base of a stew than all the Egg McMuffins that I ate in high school.
I've eaten some great steak from these joints. I particularly remember a filet from JW Treuth that seemed perfect -- tender, but real beef flavor. But I'm no expert at meat, and the truth is that I pay attention when I make a special trip for beef. I buy something nice. I find a good recipe. A few hours of anticipation make almost everything taste more delicious.
So I never know if I'm getting anything super-different than what I could get at Giant or the Bloom. If anything, I'd love a little education from one of these butchers. Sometimes, I ask questions, but I've never gotten an answer much more than, "The filet is good" or "A porterhouse would be good on the grill."
- Beiler's Meats at the Dutch Country Farmers Market in Laurel (formerly in Burtonsville). These folks sell regular and organic beef from a Missouri company. They're part of the Amish market that is currently on Rte 198 just east of U.S. 1. The market is a fun trip and open Thursday through Saturday. HowICook seconds my love of bacon and sausage, and he and Ho.Co.Po both said in the comments that they're huge fans of Beiler's.
- Boarman's Meat Market in Highland. This country market at Rte 108 and Rte 216 serves up meats -- along with housemade sausages and even crab cakes. The sausage is a real draw, a nice Italian link for sandwiches or a breakfast sausage to make your own patties. Boarman's is due south of Roots in Clarksville, so it's a convenient place if you're on the road shopping for a special meal.
- JW Treuth and Sons in Oella. This is the one place where I can personally vouch that you get something special. This company near downtown Ellicott City butchers its own meat. My steaks have been absolutely delicious, and the Chesapeake sausage was enormous and tasty. The Baltimore Beer Guy said in the comments that he is a sucker for the Delmonico steak and the liverwurst, which he spreads on triscuits.
- Laurel Meat Market in downtown Laurel. I want this place to be terrific because I drive past every night coming home from the MARC. It's very good. I made a nice steak recently, and ground chuck has become a staple for burgers, pasta sauces, etc. They also serve tasty shrimp that they say are almost-always wild shrimp from the US. And I always like the bacon. A few slices of bacon are priceless when I want to cook at home. (It's also a place where you can get special cuts like the seven-rib roast that my friend used for Christmas Eve 2010.)
- Columbia Halal Meat in Elkridge. For Muslims, this can be an essential spot on Rte 108 because they -- along with Ceazar International Market -- sell halal chicken, lamb and goat. But I think it's a general resource for anyone looking for lamb or goat -- especially for large cuts like the whole goats -- or for personal service from the butchers who will trim and cut your order however you want.
- (Nazar Market in Columbia. The newest halal butcher fits the same space as Columbia Halal and Ceazar, and they give really friendly, helpful service with similar cuts. The ground lamb became a regular part of my shopping in 2010 when I learned to grill kabobs, and you can use it for meatballs, sauces, etc. They grind the meat personally for each order, so you know that it's fresh. They also sell tiny lamb chops, chicken hearts and other unusual cuts.)
I'd love any suggestions about what you buy from these butchers. Special cuts? Special orders? Or is there something special at one of the supermarkets that you love?
This is part of the "What I Learned" series of posts. They're organized in rings. See below to continue on the ring about shopping in Howard County. Or click to switch to the posts about different cuisines or posts about areas and ideas.
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