The meat case at Underground Butcher in Madison often contains cuts not found in the grocery store, like chuck eye steaks, teres major (petite tender) and tri tip roasts. 


“Beef cuts that are interesting to braise are brisket, chuck roast and even the cuts found in the round,” said Paul Short, culinary program director at Madison College. “Pork hocks can make great dishes that are full of great flavor.

“I would also encourage people to use the offal from animals. Beef heart tacos or pork liver pate are wonderful and flavorful foods to prepare.”

“The bavette, the culotte — those are two steaks that are as good as any rib-eye,” said Jonny Hunter, a co-founder of Underground Food Collective. “The Denvers are really popular. We sell a lot of ground beef but the other steaks here, the under blade, arm steaks and sirloin tip, these are all just as good as rib-eyes.”

“The tri tip roast, I really enjoy that one,” said Drew Brinker at The Meat Market in Baraboo. “I don’t like fatty roast and it’s a great roast to do because it’s a whole muscle. It has great marbling on it, no tendons running through it. I’ve smoked it, grilled it, slow cooked it, and it’s usually really tender.”

“There’s nothing better to me than taking the boring old chuck roast and putting it in a CrockPot with your favorite herbs and spices and letting it cook at a low heat all day long,” said Dick Cates of Cates Family Farm. “When you come home at the end of the day it smells unbelievable.

“If you want to go to the next level, you pull it apart and make it a shredded beef. You can use it in a sandwich, with pasta, alone. It’s amazing, and it’s just a chuck roast.”

“I’m all about bone broth,” said Bartlett Durand, founder of Black Earth Meats and Conscious Carnivore. “We’re coming into summer, but it’s such a nourishing, healing, wonderful product whether you’re making a soup or drinking it outright.

“And I’ve been playing a lot with meatballs, whether I throw oatmeal in or do a thing with egg, spicing. I’m just having the best time.”

“When we first came up here it was all the basic cuts, pork chops, steaks,” said Todd Carr at Pecatonica Valley Farm. “The new customer, they want more this kind of stuff, brats” and value-added products, like Cajun, smoked maple and beer-flavored bratwurst, barbecue and black pepper pork snack sticks.

“There’s other cuts that can feed your whole family that we preach about,” said Dave Gathy, co-owner of Conscious Carnivore. “It’s cheap, it’s delicious and it’s better than the cuts you’re familiar with. Ask a butcher what they recommend. Don’t be afraid to go off recipe.

“There’s the spider steak in the inner hip bone ... flavor better than a rib-eye, a little tough but it’s great and cheap. And another one is the petit tender, also known as the teres major. We have turned so many people on to that cut, they buy that more than tenderloin filet now.”

“We sell plenty of bacon,” said Dan Fox of Willow Creek Farm and Fox Heritage Meats. Value-added products like charcuterie and sausage are “something we’re excited about personally, and we put a lot of energy in. It’s been a big growth piece for us, specifically, as far as making us a sustainable producer.

“That’s the best margin for us, utilizing our full skill set and those odds and ends we’re trying to turn into great products.”

“I just found this steak,” said Allie Christian at Underground Butcher. “It’s hidden in the fat part of the rib-eye. It’s between the rib cap and the shoulder blade, on the chuck side. The other side would be the flat iron.

“There’s a little steak that hides, and it has a lot of marbling and it’s just so flavorful. I call it the gem steak, like a hidden gem. It’s probably six ounces.”

“The oyster is really good,” said Steve Dawson, another Underground butcher. “There’s only two of them on the cow. It’s right at the top of the hip, on the H-bone, on the back leg. It’s probably only four, five ounces. You have to sort of shave it off the bone.”

Since 2008, Lindsay Christians has been writing about fine arts and food for The Capital Times. She loves eating at the bar, going to the theater, fine wine and good stories. She lives on the east side with her husband, two cats and too many cookbooks.