I was recently asked to enumerate the meat producers about which I frequently rave in the St Louis area, and where they can be found. In general the markets I go to are Soulard and Tower Grove, having met the couple of Tower Grove meat producers at the now-defunct Central West End greenmarket. Sadly, that market didn't seem to thrive the way Tower Grove did and I defected when they did. Finally, many of these meats may be available at a couple of small local grocers: Local Harvest (who also deliver) and the City Food co-op. Living Springs eggs and bacon are available at the Wine Merchant. I will eventually add a listing of my favorite vegetable producers (though immediate shout out to Kruse Gardens, invariably my first stop at Soulard Market).
But, you say, there is no Tower Grove market in the winter! For 2007–8 at least, there is a winter market inside a nearby church: St. Louis Community Farmers' Market will be hosting a Winter Market in the Parish Hall every SECOND Saturday in the St. John's Parish Hall continuing Saturday, January 12th, from 8:30 a.m. - 12 noon.
- Chicken: Harr Family Farm at Soulard Market. Special orders for such as pastured heirloom turkeys, geese, guinea fowl(!): 618 538 9295. He usually makes restaurant deliveries on Thursdays. Scott Harr raises a wide variety of poultry, as well as a variety of smokehouse treats (2/$15 smoked ducks made fantastic tacos. I'll bring to an event sometime.) He’s identifiable as the one with the live poultry at the market, in the northeast wing. Whole chickens between $4-5. He has eggs (good) $2, “organic” (gathered same-day, for which actually worth the premium) $3, and recently raised the price for arucanas (the green and blue ones) to $4. Also bacon, see below.
- Smoked Chicken: Siebert, at Soulard. Northwest wing. $6 each for “regular” or “spicy”. Ready to take off the bone and turn into amazing chicken salad, tamal filling, etc. Unbelievably easy and super delicious.
- Lamb: Prairie Grass Farm (Dave Hillebrand). Leg of grassfed lamb around $9/lb. Ground lamb about $5. His lamb-apple bratwurst is one of my favorite things ever. They are to be found at the tower grove market and (I think) Maplewood. They also have great eggs for $3.50/dz. His meats have been featured at Schlafly Bottleworks, and Prairie Grass hosts a once-a-year $50-75/plate farm dinner.
- Pork: (Non-bacon) Hinkebein Hills Farm. Tower Grove, also Maplewood. Karlios Hinkebein has been written up in Sauce for his sausages and hams. Needless to say, this is pork with flavor, not that dry, bland “other white meat.”
- Beef: Dan West of Living Springs has the best around. Hinkebein also, though he has more pork; might be cheaper. At Tower Grove, probably Maplewood. I eat less beef than most things, satisfying my steak cravings once every few months with a humongous Argentine steak at Tango Sur in Chicago.
- Bacon: There’s a lot of great bacon around St Louis. Because I go to different markets, I mix it up a lot and have found things I like about all of them. Most often, I buy Scott Harr's, which is $3.29/lb. It's nice and thick, medium-fatty, good clean nonspecific smoke flavor. This is what I grilled for the department picnic. Second would go to Hinkebein's pork butt bacon. It's a leaner cut, very meaty, more pork than smoke flavor. His regular (belly) bacon is great too. Norris Farm appeared irregularly at Tower Grove; their bacon is sliced thin and was very good. Finally, M&K meats (573 564 6117) has appeared irregularly in the winter at Soulard. They seem to make primarily canned meat products for camping purposes, but they deserve special mention for their pepper bacon. They have also been known to have lamb, goat, elk, and venison.
- Lard (fatback): There is no substitute for fresh lard especially in Mexican food. Unfortunately, fresh lard is very difficult to come by. In Chicago, I make a quick trip over to Pilsen for the fatty drippings from a pile of carnitas; in St Louis I have to render my own (chop fatback. 45 minutes in the oven. done.) and the only place I've reliably found hunks of pork fat is the “Olive Farmers Market”.