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Q&A with our
Expert Meat Cutter


Q: What is a Virginia Ham? My one sister-in-law swears it's the best thing out there, but in all my many years I've never seen one in a store. Thank you.

A: A Virginia ham is a dry-cured ham, unlike the smoked variety we are used to buying. A dried-cured ham is hung in a sack for several months.

The flavor is much different than a smoked ham which appeals to some people. These hams are more popular down south, but some specialty shops may carry them.

Q: Pork shoulder seems to be about the cheapest pork meat out there. Right? What can I do with it other than just fry it like a regular chop?

A: Pork shoulder is divided into two pieces; a fresh picnic and a shoulder butt. Fresh picnics can be smoked for hams or cooked as a heavily spiced roast. It has much waste because it has a lot of skin and bone.

Pork shoulder butts have a larger variety of use such as pork steaks, boneless pork roast, cottage hams or even city chicken.

Q: What's the deal with free-range chickens? Just what does it mean and does it make a difference?

A: A free-range chicken is a term that describes a chicken free of antibiotics or hormones. Like most things that are not mass-produced, they do cost more.

Due to health concerns, some people are required to eat hormone-free meats.


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Meat Cutter Ed Jesse
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