New butcher on the block

There's a new butcher shop in town, and it's off the hook. Off The Hook Meat Works processes domestic and wild game, and provides a variety of deli meats to retail and commercial customers.

There’s a new butcher shop in town, and it’s off the hook.

Off The Hook Meat Works processes domestic and wild game, and provides a variety of deli meats to retail and commercial customers.

Shane Casselman, one of three business partners, said the idea of starting a butcher shop started as a joke, but as they got more and more customers, it quickly turned into a reality.

It’s been hectic since they opened, he said.

“You eat, breathe and sleep meat-cutting.”

The shop opened in August, in time for the hunting season.

It was a good thing, too. In just seven weeks they processed 35 tonnes of meat, mostly moose, said CEO John Pauch.

The successful season allowed the partners to expand their store, which now includes a small retail space and deli counter.

Off The Hook runs out of a converted garage on 5th Ave. Hunters and farmers like it because they can back their truck right up to the garage door, said Casselman.

From there, a winch lifts animals from the truck bed and onto hooks that run on a track right through the butcher shop and into the cooler in the back.

The space is clean and sparsely laid out, with stainless steel counters and appliances.

Now that the hunting season has cooled off, the partners are keeping busy with orders from local farmers and retail customers.

A Pelly Crossing beef farmer had recently dropped off about a dozen quartered cows, and close to a dozen more are expected.

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The butchers will process and package the meat according to instructions so that it can be picked up by the farmer’s customers.

In the meantime, Casselman is doing his best to keep up with retail beef jerky sales.

“We got hit hard in the past couple of days,’ he said.

The meat that is destined for retail sale is ordered from federally-inspected farms Outside.

He wears a chain-link glove on his left hand as his skillfully cuts away the fat on an inside round, part of the cow’s hip.

Casselman divides the cut-away pieces of meat into two piles. One will be made into ground beef, the other will go into sausage. The only piece that is discarded is a section of vein.

The remaining hunk of inside round will be sliced thinly and tumbled with seasoning before heading to the smoker. Jerky is available in several flavours, at $30 for a one-pound vacuum-sealed bag.

The retail counter also boasts sausages, smokies, ham, bacon, deli meats and choice cuts, all processed on site.

One perk for hunters is that they can choose to have some of their game meat processed into jerky or sausage. It offers some variety beyond steaks, hamburger, roasts and stew meat.

The base price for meat processing is one dollar per pound, cut and wrapped. Animals are weighed as they come in, and jerky and sausage are extra.

Hunters can keep the scraps and bones, if they want them. But if they don’t, nothing will go to waste. During hunting season, local mushers were coming by daily to pick up scraps for their dogs.

The shop is enlivened by the comings and goings of doting family members, close friends, and repeat customers who ask, “Do you have the same meat as last time?”

At lunch time, staff and friends graze on barbecued ribs and still-warm jerky.

Pauch figures he’s found the secret to success.

“You’re doing a good product for people, you give them a good service, they’ll just keep coming.”

Off The Hook Meat Works is located at 5078 5th Ave, at the corner of Hanson St.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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