MORGAN -- Business is crazy busy at Bingham's Custom Meats, where Nathan and Sharlie Bingham defied the risks of setting up shop in a down economy.
"Business is up 200 percent over last year," Nathan said.
The couple was pricing equipment when they first saw what was to become Bingham's Custom Meats, 371 E. 300 North.
Sharlie said she and her husband hadn't intended to buy the butcher shop, but because it was already set up, it was an ideal opportunity. They opened their doors in February 2011.
"We're really lucky, really blessed to be where we're at," Nathan said.
Having their own shop means the Binghams get to showcase the latest meat-eaters fad: Bacon. There's bacon-flavored sunflower seeds, a bacon cookbook, bacon ranch dressing and bacon-flavored lip balm.
When they saw that lip balm, Sharlie said, they had to have it.
"We just like bacon, so whenever we see something bacon, we get it," Sharlie said. "It's just for fun."
Besides the bacon, Bingham's is also known for its 28 flavors of bratwurst, which sell year-round. A brat is like a sausage, but larger. The flavors include Loukanika, a sweet, mild sausage; Beef Bacon; the Pork Pinwheel, another sausage flavored with bacon; apple spice; bacon cheeseburger, chicken cordon bleu; and Cajun sausage. The flaming jalapeno cheddar inferno is the hottest flavor.
Bingham's Custom Meats is three separate businesses under one roof.
The freezer cases in the front of the shop feature meat for sale to the public.
The second business there is wild game brought in by hunters. Hunters bring in mule deer, elk, moose and antelope, Nathan said. There has also been the occasional buffalo and even mountain goat. A lot of wild game is processed into bratwurst or bacon burgers, he said. Quite a bit is used for jerky.
The third business is for farmers who bring in already slaughtered domestic animals, such as beef, hogs or lamb, for processing.
One man brought by three llamas to butcher that someone else had given him for free. They tasted like a cross between lamb and beef, Nathan said.
"Every carcass is different, but as far as cutting up, almost every animal is exactly the same."
Many people arrive at Bingham's Meats with their own slaughtered animals, ready to have the carcass hung in the meat freezer so the meat can age and be more tender. When the carcass arrives at Bingham's, the animal is already skinned out and divided right down the middle.
"People around here, their fathers, grandfathers and maybe great-grandfathers butchered their own cattle," Nathan said.
Although what breed of cattle produces the best meat might lead to fighting among farmers, Nathan recommends Angus. The bulkier muscles of Angus cattle mean that breed provides the best carcasses, he said.
Meat from any cow is divided into three categories; select, choice and prime. All grades come from how marbled the meat is, Nathan said.
Select is the lowest grade, which means it might come from an older cow and the meat is less marbled with fat. Unless its labeled otherwise, the majority of meat sold in grocery stores is select.
Choice is a medium grade of meat. The cow was probably slaughtered when it was between 18 to 20 months old, and there is significant marbling in the muscles.
Then there's prime, the meat served at the higher-grade restaurants. This is the most expensive meat because it's the least common, Nathan said. It has the most significant marbling, which means the meat is the most tender and most flavorful.
Although the whole cow is graded one grade, the calculation is based on how the rib eyes look: If the rib eyes are good, the rest of the beet will be super-marbled.
Everything sells, but spring and summer mean more steaks, burgers and kabobs. A couple hundred animals per week are processed from August to September.
Wild game and domestic animals arrive from August to January, with the greatest concentrations starting in October. The 4-H animals come from all over Northern Utah after the fairs and are known to be especially good.
"The fat is really white," Nathan said about the 4-H project animals. "They have good kidney fat. The muscles are bulkier rather than lean and thin."