Good as it gets

Your Butcher Frank in Longmont is still a superb meat and deli shop

Susan France

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. This is how a proper deli sandwich looks and tastes.


Let’s back up. To me, and perhaps to some of you, Your Butcher Frank was always the old school butcher with a funny name that you didn’t think to go to because, you know, Whole Foods, Lucky’s and King Soopers sell pretty good meat and a whole lot more. The same reason I wasn’t willing to make the extra drive to Your Butcher Frank and give it a shot is the same reason why Wal-Mart and Target have been let off the leash and sicced on the American consumer, and why the natural grocer chains mentioned above have acquired the perception of a monopoly on quality meat and produce.

That’s a dangerous perspective to get lulled into, of course, because it pushes out the expert and the community staple — both roles that Your Butcher Frank serves in Longmont.

Supporting these shops — these butchers, carnicerias, bakeries, ethnic groceries — is critical to the success of a vibrant food community. And that’s the end of the righteous bit of this review, because if you step into Your Butcher Frank, you’ll see a steady, healthy flow of regular patrons that don’t need to be told to support their local butcher.

In short, I’m the bozo. And so are you if you delay going to Your Butcher Frank, or those of its ilk, any longer.

Their success is two-fold: they have a wide selection of high quality (at least what I tasted) beef, pork, poultry and other meats; they also have a deli that knows what it is doing. Let’s start in the butchery department.

I brought home a four-pack of sweet Italian sausage and a little over a pound of chuck roast. It’s an old Italian-American kitchen tradition to put a slab of beef, like the roast, in a pot with pureed or crushed tomatoes, garlic, onion and let it cook down all day. I put the sweet sausage in there, too, along with salt, fresh ground pepper, red pepper flakes and a pinch of sugar. It sat in a crock-pot for just over nine hours.

The roast was falling apart when I took it out. It had taken on the bright flavor of the San Marzano tomatoes, but retained its own robustness. It was perfectly tender. The sausage worked the other way — its flavor was imparted into the sauce; a flavor that was spicy and slightly fatty, with a deep-seeded bite that separates run-of-the-mill, processed ham products from the true flavor of hog. Sometimes, the flavor of sub-par sausage can become subdued when cooked for so long; here, it amplified the sauce, and only got better over the next few days in the refrigerator.

While those meats were cooking, I ate most of two deli sandwiches I brought home from Frank’s. First, the “yes” sandwich: Frank’s Italian sub.

This Italian was about as good as it gets anywhere. Period. The bread is slightly chewy, with a thin but crunchy crust. There is a perfect proportion of bread to meat, which is to say the bread is the perfect foundation for the mountain of meat piled onto this sandwich.  The meat combo for this Italian was capicola (a spicy ham), cotto salami (partially cooked cured sausage, which enhances flavor) and pepperoni. Provolone, as is typical, was the cheese, and the veggies were a simple layering of fresh tomatoes, shredded lettuce, black olives and onions. It was all dressed in a light Italian dressing.

So much about this sandwich is remarkable. First, they shred or tear the deli meat, which for some reason unlocks flavor and moisture. The science behind it actually says the more surface area on the deli meat, the more oxygen will hit it and thus more flavor. They also went two layers deep on provolone, and the meat was positively overflowing out of the hoagie roll. The meat depth was about the size of a baseball. Also, they didn’t go nuts on the toppings, understanding that the meat is the star of a deli sandwich, and the toppings are there for texture and moisture. That said, the black olives and Italian dressing are the two items you don’t always find on Italian subs, and they were wonderful here.

And now I’m out of space to gush about the turkey club — an even more densely-packed meat parade where ham replaces the bacon, and two types of cheese are layered in. Another fantastic deli sandwich.

Consider it an affirmation of a truth that’s easy to forget: if an off-the-path independent food maker is drawing customers away from the big stores in this day and age, it’s for a reason. So, go.