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Image: Rick Morgan

Southern Steer Butcher opened its Sarasota location on June 3, giving locals yet another alternative to the grocery store meat section. Owner Greg Snyder, who grew up in Sarasota, opened a Clearwater shop just over four years ago and decided the Sarasota region would be a good fit for a second location.

At Southern Steer's Bee Ridge shop, you'll find all the essentials, like top sirloin, tri-tip and pork tenderloin. The store also offers craft beer, sauces, a deli and marinated meats. But what else can your butcher do for you? Turns out: a lot. We talked with Snyder about how you can make the best use out of your local meat shop.

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Image: Rick Morgan

Get a custom cut

Can’t find the cut of meat you want at the grocery store? Order a custom cut from your local butcher. Southern Steer will custom-cut anything, and bring in any kind of specialty cut you want. Snyder will also slice something fresh for you when you walk in, so you know your chicken cutlet hasn’t been sitting around for days. “That way, [customers] are leaving with the freshest possible product,” Snyder says. “It’s been handed to you the day it’s cut.”

Try something new

Pork, chicken and beef are staples of butcher shops and grocery stores, but sometimes you want to expand your horizons. Southern Steer has no problem bringing in unusual meats you won’t find at a typical grocery store. Elk, venison, buffalo and rabbit are just some of the animals Snyder can get from his purveyor in St. Petersburg. Not wild enough? Snyder once got a 5-pound pack of rattlesnake meat for a customer who wanted to sauté, bread and fry some serpent.

Save time

People are busy, and Snyder doesn’t want you to spend more time on dinner than necessary. “We try to cater our operation to have products that are ready for [customers] to use,” Snyder says. The store’s glass cases display a variety of marinated chicken and beef. Flavors include barbecue moonshine, butter garlic, Cajun and "Kickin’ Margarita." Southern Steer also offers ready-to-go sides, sandwiches and twice-baked potatoes.

Take a lesson

Your butcher knows meat. It’s up to you ask and learn. Different cuts of meat respond in different ways to different cooking methods, so take your butcher’s advice on how to prepare it. “The biggest question we get from anybody that takes product out of here is, ‘How do I cook it?’” Snyder says. “We try to educate them on the ways they can prepare a cut of meat.” Ask you butcher if you should grill, broil, bake or deep-fry whatever it was you just bought.

Offal, anyone?

Livers, hearts, tongues and kidneys. Some people find offal repulsive; others can’t get enough of it. If you're in the latter camp and frustrated about the lack of unusual animal parts at your grocery store, talk to your butcher. Southern Steer offers offal at its Clearwater location and, although it doesn’t have it on-hand in Sarasota yet, Snyder can easily order some. “One of the beauties of what we can do as a small shop is respond to demand quicker,” Snyder says. “If somebody walks in here and says, ‘I go through 40 pounds of chicken liver for my dog,’ we can get that for you.”

Southern Steer Butcher is located at 4084 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota. For more information, check out the shop's website and Facebook and Twitter pages.

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