RGE RD Launches The Butchery

Take Out & Delivery

January 3, 2020

Words by: Joe Gurba

Photography by: Zokah Photography & Films

The perfect antidote for homebound carnivores.

Since Blair Lebsack and Caitlin Fulton opened RGE RD in 2013, they’ve held onto a top slot among Edmonton’s most lauded restaurants. In these last seven years, RGE RD has ceaselessly championed an Albertan centered farm-to-table cuisine that never cuts corners. With this newest lockdown on restaurants, the opening of their long awaited deli & butcher’s counter could not have come at a better time.

RGE RD is well known and admired for their intensive dry-ageing program, buying whole animals and butchering them in-house. The Butchery by RGE RD, the all-new shop adjacent to the restaurant, has made the fruits of their expertise available to the home chef concerned for quality. Edmontonians can now bring home RGE RD’s best cuts from local ranchers who subscribe to the same degree of integrity — consciously raising unique breeds of cattle, bison, game, pork, and poultry.

When a side of cattle, for example, arrives from any of several nearby small family ranchers they work with, their team first dry-ages the entire side of beef for three to six weeks. Then whole muscles are trimmed and the appropriate cuts (like their gorgeous briskets!) are sold, raw sausages are spun, and a host of tougher muscles are smoked or cured into their delectable deli meats.

The precious ribs and loins will continue to dry-age anywhere from 50 days to their current record of 128 days. I’m told anything past 80 days can spark a vampiric bloodlust in those lucky enough to try it. Trimmed and portioned to order when you come to the counter, these are the kind of steaks you’d be insane to marinate or brine — you just give them heat, a touch of salt and pepper, and they’ll tell their own tale with their own voice.

Meanwhile, the delicious trimmings find their way into three different dry-aged ground beef options: the ‘Butchery Blend’ at 25% fat, perfect for burgers or bolognese, a leaner 100% grass fed ground, and finally the premium ground beef composed entirely from the trim of those 50-128 day premium steaks. Just imagine the meatloaf you could make!

For in-the-know carnivores already pouring into The Butchery, the premium cuts of beef are far from the only draw. We also find Albertan elk, bison, deer, duck, chicken, lamb, goat, and several breeds of pork on offer. But Blair and Caitlin have been most surprised by the organ meats flying out the door. It makes sense given how difficult they are to find elsewhere, especially from ethically raised animals. Demand has been highest for livers, hearts, kidneys (especially lamb’s), and pork hocks and trotters.

Aside from proteins, The Butchery also purveys house made ready-to-eat dishes like pot pies, fresh baked breads, soups, meatloaves, terrines, pâtés, and salads (I’m told that proper butcher shop sandwiches are on the way too!). Their ‘Mountain Bread Baguette’ baked in their wood burning oven has a unique touch of smoke that’s already made it one of the most sought after comestibles. This is all topped off by a wide selection of house made pickles, preserves, mustards, and vinegars composed from local ingredients.

Perhaps the most unique service The Butchery offers, however, is bespoke wine pairings. A sort of ‘deli sommelier’, if I may be so bold. You see Caitlin consulting with shoppers to pair the dish they’re planning with the perfect wine from RGE RD’s extensive cellar, available on the spot at retail pricing. It’s a brilliant solution for the gourmet that’s relegated to their own kitchen, for better or worse, and a blessing to Edmonton’s food landscape.

With this newest lockdown on restaurants, the opening of their long awaited deli & butcher’s counter could not have come at a better time.

Five must-taste deli cuts from The Butchery at RGE RD:

1. Pastrami

Using the brisket from Jeff Nonay of Lakeside Farmstead’s well-marbled crossbreed between his Holstein dairy cows and the Speckled Park breed, Blair and his team do a traditional pastrami brine followed by a birch smoke that creates a more elegant style of pastrami than the comparatively over-brined and over-smoked styles you typically encounter, putting the complex varietal flavours of the meat on full display.

2. Capicola

Cured with salt and thyme for three weeks, this Berkshire pork shoulder from Redtail Farms is packed full of melt-in-your-mouth marbling that is just as welcome raw as it would be melted into a mirepoix or sofrito, or any braise or sauce base.

3. Hot Smoked Roast Beef

Using an Irish breed of curly-haired Dexter cattle from Tandria farms near Fort Saskatchewan, this 100% grass fed roast is birch-smoked ever so gently. The texture is airy and light. You can’t help but note how much less seasoned this roast beef is compared to your standard fare, letting the savoury nuances of this beautifully raised animal shine through.

4. Hunter’s Sausage

As the name implies, this is a cold-cut sausage that incorporates cuts from several animals depending on what’s available be it bison, duck, elk, beef—you name it—but always rounded out with fatty cuts of pork to bind and marry the elements. Brilliant pops of mustard, coriander, ginger, nutmeg, and herbs give structure to the host of umami flavours, all supported by a gentle baseline of smoke. This is a unique cut that really takes me home to the family farm up north where my Dad goes after every tag he can as the seasons rotate, always elevating the toughest cuts into the most savoury sausages.

5. RGE RD Heritage Ham

This is true Albertan charcuterie at its best, shaved in curling slivers from a whole leg of one of Redtail Farm’s coveted Berkshire hogs, judiciously cured with salt and sugar. Much lighter and fruitier than the Prosciutto di Parma or Jamon Iberico you normally associate with a whole leg pork cure, the texture here is softer and more forgiving. Using less salt and curing for a shorter time brings out the sweeter, more succulent elements of the rich marbling Berkshire hogs (called Kurobuta in Japan) are famous for, leading many to call this breed the wagyu of pork. You have to taste it to believe it!

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