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Check out specialty meat markets for super summer grilling
July 03, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis

Photo by Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen - Todd Greene, assistant meat market manager at Fresh Foods in Gering, breaks down a larger section of meat for packaging.

With this the Fourth of July weekend, grilling season is now in full swing. While “gas or charcoal” is an unanswerable question, your choice of meat is worth some consideration.

“Rib eye is our best-selling steak to grill right now,” said Dennis Lazaretti, meat market manager at Fresh Foods supermarket in Gering. “We have packaged steaks that are about an inch thick, along with thicker cuts in the meat case.”

Other popular cuts for beef include New York and top sirloin. “The T-bone is also a great steak for grilling, but people don’t like to pay for the bone, so we don’t sell a lot of those,” Lazzaretti said.

If you’re thinking beyond steaks, hamburgers, hot dogs and brats are excellent choices for summertime grilling. At Fresh Foods, they make their own German garlic sausage bratwurst, along with delectable side dishes like jalapeno poppers and stuffed mushrooms.

For people who like to go “low and slow” with smoked meats, Fresh Foods has slab ribs, baby back ribs and brisket Lazzaretti said they carry about anything a griller can think of to put on the coals.

The major mistake people make when grilling is overcooking the meat, both with beef and pork. “There hasn’t been a case of trichinosis in America in 30 years,” Lazzarretti said, “But people still cook the meat to death so it turns out really tough. Pork should only be cooked to about 145 degrees.”

He added that overcooking is especially a problem with meats such as bison and other game meats, which contain little intramuscular fat and cook quickly. While people are more health conscious today, meat still needs some fat in it to cook properly and not dry out.

Another local specialty meat shop is Markey’s Meat Market, located on the Scottsbluff-Gering Highway. Owner Mark Gies said their primary season is from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

“Some people have put their grills away after Labor Day and then wished they could still be grilling in November,” Gies said. “But for the most part, people grill during the summer and we sell the typical fare: steaks, hamburger and brats.” Gies suggests grilling steaks on a high temperature rather quickly so that the juices are seared inside.

Markey’s makes more than 30 varieties of its own sausage, and also carries a wide variety of steaks for the grill.

Organic choices are also available for the health conscious. Hometown Harvest Cooperative, located at 1214 Center Ave. in downtown Mitchell, offers locally produced meat that’s 100 percent grass fed.

“Out meat comes from local growers,” said manager Danielle Moore. “None of the animals are grain fed, so the meat is just healthier and a great choice for the grill.”

Hometown Harvest offers a wide variety of steak cuts, from rib eye to New York strip, from sirloin to tenderloin. The also carry grass fed bison meat. Another item locally produced pork chops and ground pork. Local organic fruits and vegetables are also great for grilling as accompaniments.

Now that summer is here and the past brutal winter is just a bad memory; now is a perfect time to fire up the grill and take part in a time-honored American tradition.

Great local meat markets
Fresh Foods, 1270 10th Street, Gering (308) 633-2901
Marky’s Meat Market – 2945 North 10th Street, Gering (308) 632-3222
Homegrown Harvest Food Co-op (offering locally-grown, grass-fed and organic meats) – 1214 Center Ave., Mitchell (308) 225-4233
Nutters Bulk & Natural Foods – 2621 5th Ave., Suite #1, Scottsbluff (308) 632-1014
DL Foods – 122 W Webster Street, Morrill (308) 247-2701
Mitchell Market – 1420 Center Ave., Mitchell (308) 623-1511
Main Street Market – 401 South Beltline, Scottsbluff (308) 633-5300.
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