A very interesting piece about the new breed of butchers in town from the Food Program on BBC4

It features amongst others our amazing friends Dario and his wife Kim at  M.A.D last year. Sheila Dillon always curates a interesting well considered pieces for her show.
 
 
For those of you who didn't catch Nathan on Raymond Blanc's new BBC2 series "How to Cook Well" you can see the short of his section above. If you want to see the series, for all the recipes and other great guest spots it is on BBC iplayer 
 
 
With an Autumn feel in the air even though Summer seems to have only glanced upon us we are pleased to bring a few items some of you have been requesting, English Rose Veal and Native Breed Mutton.

As we only source whole carcasses to butcher in-house the veal has been trickier than we originally thought. We always knew it needed to be English Rose but with the added constrictions of natural rearing, high animal welfare and whole bodies only. Most farmers had not actually previously, which just goes to show, yet again that most of our London meat is no longer butchered traditionally in house. We pretty much had to leave our usual requirement for pure bred native breeds at the door as the dairy industry uses crosses to utilise maximum milk production with temperament and disease resistance.

Our first veal shipment is Holstein Friesians from Roger Mason at Heaves Farm in Cumbria
As always, that ever so sensible man Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall tells us why we should all be eating English Rose veal, a by product of the dairy industry with some tasty recipe ideas thrown in to get you in the mood for Saturdays shopping with us down at Spa Terminus. Fern Verrow have had lovely sage recently, and we heard rumours of spinach, then grab a tasty cured pork product from Ham & Cheese Co if you are looking to go classic Saltimbocca style. Heaves Farm website also has some great recipes.
 We did manage to buy a whole veal animal so the counter will have the liver, tail, tongue and all the cuts and bits in between if you want to get your hands on something more fun than the escalope.


Lamb is eating beautifully right now, fattened on the summer pastures and allowed to grow at its natural rate the end of Summer start of Autumn is actually our preferred time for lamb, spring lamb we feel tends to be over rated and a little tasteless. Let us know what you think of our latest batch of Llanwenog.
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A fine specimen fatted up nicely on a summer meadow diet
And we are buying mutton and hogget in as well from the same farmers, which will be a great chance for people to try the meat side by side or have the option for really flavourful long slow cooks.  We recently visited one of our favourite lamb farmers Sue Money-Kyrle based in Gloucestershire. Having loved her LLanwenog lambs, farming ethos and spirit since we opened, not to mention the feature in Jamie Magazine, it was great to finally see the farm for ourselves and it didn't disappoint. 

Running a small herd ( 67 animals over 40 Hectares when we dropped by) with real love Sue selects and drives her animals to abattoir by hand and she had a few set aside for us to get a quick lesson in carcass selection while the beasts are still alive a little different from how we normally see them but very educational end to a tour of Walkers Fram admiring the meadows, views, ohh and the sheep! Over the 12 years Sue and James have been at Walkers Farm they have slowly built up a pure bred herd suited to Sue's exacting standards of the breed and the conditions of their windy mountain top at the northern tip of The Forest of Dean. Lots of planting along fence lines as part of the Farm Stewardship scheme allows more protection for the animals.
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The view arriving back at the farmhouse after our tour
They have also been carefully monitoring the ancient meadows applying minerals to the soil as appropriate to encourage a balance mix of healthy meadow flora meaning the sheep stay naturally healthier in the tough conditions. Some plants help as natural wormers, all help create a balanced diet and impart a depth of flavour to the lamb not found on a single grass or cereal fed system.  We nibbled very sweet sorrel and spotted clovers, meadow sweet and lots of stuff I wouldn't be game to mention incase they were identified wrong amongst the grasses.
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close up of the meadows, which had just been cut for silage
Great farm, great farmer(ess)! damn fine lamb and mutton. EAT SOME NOW. 
 
 
As many of you,  especially I am guessing the self employed and small business owners would find, business and pleasure are often mingled. But if you weren’t at least a little in love with what you were doing then you would be crazy to be in business doing it !

Which found us on a family “staycation” in Norfolk visiting The Carleton Herd, a small herd of Red Poll not far from Norwich. Conservation grazed on river meadows, these beasts tick all our boxes, native breed, lovingly, slowly and naturally reared on non-arable land, fed on mixed pastures, small groups, local abattoir, non intensive, low input and all those other fuzzy words which do add up to what we believe is spectacular tasting, healthy meat with low environmental impact. 
Robert one of the owners, two friends and neighbours have paired up to be able to best utilise the boggy areas around the river running through their properties, drove us around in his Ute to see the farm, the Red Polls are lovely medium sized healthy looking animals which as Robert admiringly points out fit naturally in the flat Norfolk landscape. One of the heifers had calved last night, therefore changing her status to cow, a few calved quite a while back and some are obviously due to be mums very soon. A good-natured breed our 5mth old daughter has her first encounter with a bovine and seems pretty pleased by it. The guys chose to let the heifers mature properly before allowing them to get pregnant so that they need less help with birthing.
We see different areas at different stages of the grazing process a very promising sign as it is a clear indication of the animals being rotated through the paddocks, so the beasts get a great diet, developing depth of flavour in the meat and the flora, fauna and soil have a chance to regenerate. This rotation of animals is a key aspect of conservation grazing and one whole heartedly endorsed by Graham Harvey in his excellent book, Carbon Fields.  
Red Poll are a local dual purpose (Milk and beef) breed for those based in East Anglia, previous Red Poll meat we have eaten could be describe as “buttery” and is beautifully succulent and tender. Technically this difference in taste and exceptional succulence comes down to the size of capillaries apparently, though as always, it needs to be well fed and raised animal or all the breeding in the world wont save it.
With bloodlines of a right royal pedigree including beasts from The Queen’s Sandringham Estate and a prize winning bull we hope you will get a chance to pop in over the next few weeks to try some Carleton Herd Red Poll. As we were lucky enough to get two steers killed on 4th July 2012 they have been aging nicely in The Butchery’s meat locker. With only 25 cattle killed a year they are a rare and tasty treat. Last week we had some very juicy, tender, sweet flavoured steak, this week with a little more age we think the beefiness will start to show depending on the cut you choose. If you’re a regular, a great chance to taste the same beef over a few weeks of aging and also think about the terroir of meat, a lot of our beef currently comes from Dorset, Devon and Herefordshire, how do these East Anglian raised beasts differ ? We talk about it in grapes and wine, is it not just as appropriate for properly raised meat ?

Clarissa Dickinson Wright of Two Fat Ladies fame had this to say about Red Poll beef  “An exquisite and unique flavour from mature meat of a very individualistic old breed. Try it!
What do you think ?
This seems as good a chance as any to introduce you to Compassion In World Farming an organisation we have been following for quite a while now and especially their latest report on the advantages, other than taste (we will let you be the judge of that as it is so individual) of eating this type of meat. 
 
 
People seem to have been enjoying my tweets of the secret butchers cuts so thought I would cover them in more than 140 characters.
So you're a keen cook and looking for something different to cook other than your regular steak or stewing chuck?
There are so many hidden cuts within a whole animal carcass that only a butcher knows about.
Getting in full beef carcasses at The Butchery allows me to break down the whole beast in such a way that I get a larger range of beef cuts than your average butcher or supermarket, both of whom buy in what’s known in the trade as “boxed meat”
 Non standard or smaller cuts are tossed into the “trim bin” and usually minced, yes minced and sausages are real meat not all the  ears and cartilage and other bits urban myths have decided. My years in butcheries and abattoirs in Australia, the UK and a brief stint in Italy  whilst also having time with different chefs and a hell of a lot of my own personal research has opened my eyes to these tasty cuts and how to cook them. 

Pope's Eye 

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Pope's Eye or Spider
My favourite cut is something with a few fun descriptive names, Pope’s eye in Oz or Spider in the States and Italy due to the network of fine marbling that runs out like a spiders web within the meat 
I call it the Pope’s eye as it’s a better definition of it’s location on the beast (essentially the sphincter muscle).
Small, well marbled piece of meat that sits in the aitch bone making up part of the pelvis, it has loads of flavour and I find it as tender as any other more popular cut on the whole animal, fillet I am talking about you! When a carcass is hung for dry aging this cut is very exposed and can sometimes be unusable. Best, flash fried, season well just before throwing on a super hot grill/griddle/pan and cook to your liking as this cut can handle it. Out of a whole animal weighing in around 300kg dead weight you are lucky to get 300grms of this meat. 

Tri-tip 

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Tri-tip
The tri-tip which you are more likely to have heard about but most people still have no idea where on the cow it comes from.
The tri-tip is an extension of the point end of the rump and is not to be confused with the picanha which is the cap of the rump and connects with the silverside. Instead this muscle runs from the point of the rump and up and over the knee. In the States commonly called the sirloin fillet due to its tenderness. The tri-tip has similar flavours and characteristics to rump, but loads more marbling running through it which helps to keep the meat succulent in cooking. This cut is great for the BBQ or grilling, but as it is thick I find it best charred on the outside then finished in a oven if you like your beef cooked anymore than medium. I often use it in a rare beef salad. Out of a whole carcass you will only get about 1.5 to 2kgs 

Bolar 

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Bolar muscle whole
A small muscle about the size of a fist, found deep within the shoulder of a beef carcass. It is equivalent to the human bicep and is a ball of delicious, gelatinous goo. Grab this cut for all your slow cooking needs, whole or diced for stews and curries it is hard to beat. Two large tendons on each end that are sticky when cooked but ever so soft. In Asian cooking the tendons  by themselves are added to soups and used in warm beef salads.  Generally treat the same as a shin cut then when eating appreciate twice the amount of connective tissues that have broken down with slow cooking into a fabulously rich texture. From a whole carcass you get about 1.2kg.
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Bolar Muscle cross cut

To be continued.........

 
 
Coming to The Butchery Ltd this week is one of the most majestic and ancient of the British rare-breed cattle, White park. White park have been favoured for their meat for centuries, origin of the “Sir” loin after a King (some say Henry some say James) knighted his meal of White Park loin. And Sir Winston Churchill sending some to Texas in the war to ensure the breed was preserved.
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In the late 60’s White Park in the UK had declined to only 60 animals, the Rare Breed Survival Trust, hard working farmers and breeders have brought this back up to approximately 3500 animals, taking the breed off the critical list. Few people have had the chance to eat real White Park beef over the last 100 years as they were so close to being totally wiped out by industrial farming. I have been lucky enough to get my hands on a whole beast from an amazing farmer, John Lean in Devon. John’s farm is truly beautiful, on our visit we drove down a drive so long and steep we worried we wouldn’t make it back out.  Catching glimpses of white in the fields we arrived at a setting that made us wish we hadn’t been able to make it back out. The farm sits in a deep valley surrounded with forest protecting the “closed” herd. Steers Winter in the Pine forest, whilst cows and calves Winter in an open barn close to the farm house.
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John kindly leant us some wellies
John has been farming White Park for 15 years now and has a totally closed herd with all the animals born on his land coming from his pedigree registered live stock. Each year when the new calves are born they name each and every animal with that years letter of the alphabet, this year all the new borns names start with N (yes I did ask for a Nathan). We will be serving Kestrel, a steer born September 12th 2008, living a happy life grazing with his family before heading a short distance to the slaughterhouse on 4th November 2011 at 37 months of age (twice as long as your commercial supermarket beast)to then be dry aged 29 days ready for you to enjoy. 
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Kestrel's forerib
White Park raised slowly and pasture fed makes a rich and tasty meat with a beautiful light marbling. Having a whole beast, “Kestrel” come into The Butchery Ltd from the Bickleigh herd is a rare treat that I am really looking forward to sharing with you on Saturday.
 
 
Well Saturday 26th November will be our 3rd Saturday trading at Maltby St Market, specifically in 1 Ropemaker Walk with the very supportive and welcoming Ham and Cheese Co and The Kernel Brewery.

It has a been a hectic ride, with quite a few challenges still to come, including preparing our permanent space where we are currently doing the production, a little further east down the railway tracks ready for the grand opening early next year.

But this is an update promised to many of you about what we will be serving this week. 

Beef will be a combination of some very nicely 42 day dry aged Traditional Hereford from Farmer Tom in Herefordshire and a new one for us, Red Poll from Suffolk, succulent and well marbled this is the “beef of old England”. Originally from East Anglia the breed made it’s first herd book in 1874. Red polls are excellent foragers allowing the animals to graze naturally on mixed pastures and shrub land developing a great flavour for us to graze on. Also a fab milk producer this is the just the sort of animal we should be "eating to keep", and have been, with the Red Poll having made a successful comeback from a small herd of only 800 breeding ladies.

"An exquisite and unique flavour from mature meat of a very individualistic old breed. Try it! " - Clarissa Dickinson Wright

Lamb is another Suffolk this week, a native breed rather than an a rare-breed these also come from farmer Tom of the Traditional Herefords and have led such a happy pasture-fed existence and are so tasty we can’t resist.
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Mutton - the foggy weather has definlty meant it is time to pull out ther Le Creuset, slow cooker or whatever is your prefered method of creating comfort food and we have Sullolk Mutton for you also fromTom. Not always avaible and very often neglected by all, come and see hat you have been missing, fabulous for full depth of flavour mutton is lamb that is more than 24mths old when it goes to the slaughter house (or AltonTowers as Farmer Tom puts it). We love our cattle slowly raised (30months at least) on good pasture lets savour our sheep this way too. If its good enough for the Hairy Bikers, Hugh, Matt Tebbutt and Prince Charles maybe its good enough for you?

Pork is Tamworth this week - The good old Ginger just like the butcher, originally a Midlander ours is from Herefordhsire this week. The Tamworth was bought back to the UK for it's revival from Australian breeding stock. Pork from the Tamworth is renowned in pig cirlces for coming first by a full pig length in a ‘taste test” by Bristol University.  

Bacon -  for a first the first appearance this week week, we have of some Gloucester Old Spot bacon,  green and smoked, streaky and back so come and get it sliced to order for you on our very ancient big old Berkel Slicer. Is it bad that owning one of these has been a long time fantasy? Eventually we will be doing our own bacon from start to finish but in t he meantime we have sourced this great rare breed bacon as it’s not really a butcher shop unless we stock the secret vegetarian conversion weapon is it ?

Sausages from Gloucester Old Spot - this is a tough one (not the actual sausages I hope) We are making our own from scratch using meat from the same rare breed pork we are serving in the cabinet each week, a standard if you are going to be able to do proper whole carcass nose to tail butchery. But we also dont want to add rusk and all the “E” numbers and anti-caking agents that invloves. Most sausages have small to large amounts of rusk in them - this binds the meat together and soaks up the fat as you cook creating texture and keeping the moistness of the fat within the sausage.  Whilst our sausages are bulging with fab pork (a little beef too in the Kilebasa), fresh herbs and spices they do not have rusk, and so we are still tweaking the recipe each week a little to we find perfection for you. Kielbasa and Zingy Herb and Garlic up for grabs this week.

Chicken and one lonely Cockerel - So far our Fosse Meadows chickens have had many great comments and even repeat customers (pretty good we thought after only 2 weeks) so they will be happlily in the cabinet again alongside soemthing a bit special. For Christmas we plan on stocking Cockerel, also from Fosse Meadows, so those of you still debating what to put on the Christmas table you might find a cockerel the perfect answer. An uncastrated male chicken, tradionally used to make Coq Au Vin or for long slow roasting. A great alternative to the turkey, just a touch smaller msking it easier to cook and with serious flavour. 

Hope to see you Saturday and thanks to everyone that has dropped by already. Christmas orders will be taken from next week.
 
 
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I often get asked why, or how, I became a butcher.

My life has never been sheltered when it comes to the ins and outs of meat. 

From as far back as I can remember my parents have been involved in the meat industry.

When I was of a very young age, my stepfather met my mother and the story of my introduction to meat stems from there. My stepfather was, and still is, a butcher by trade along with his father and brother. Earlier his grandfather was the founder of the slaughter-house (abattoir) in Canberra, Australia. By the time I entered school, my extended family of mother, father, sister and brothers, 7 in total, were in some way involved in the meat trade and mostly at the slaughter-house in Canberra.
Mother was working in the canteen supplying all the meat workers with lunch. Stepfather was grading beef, two stepbrothers working on the slaughter floor, my sister supported mum and my brother was working in the boning hall. So my family where likened to the Mafia at the slaughter-house. 
Most of my school holidays were spent walking every inch of the Canberra slaughter-house which is not the way most 5 to 13 years olds spend their school holidays.
There were unexpected benefits.  If a pregnant ewe came in and lambed overnight we would take the lamb home to raise in the backyard. I remember at one stage having 8 young lambs running around which meant coming home from school on lunch breaks to bottle-feed the little blighters.
When I was 15 my parents went back into retail butchery. It was a husband and wife operation with a little help from me making sausages and minced meats. After leaving school this is where I began to learn real skills as a butcher. Father was a very good teacher, but sometimes lacked patience.  If something wasn’t right, or up to his high standards he would make you do it over and over again till it was perfected. A habit I have now picked up when training my new butchers.
Straight after leaving school I had no interest in butchery at all. The thought of long hours, little pay and hard work put me off. My challenge was getting to the beach every day to go surfing. It slowly dawned on me 
that I needed money to do the things that I wanted. So I returned to my hometown to follow the family tradition of working in the Canberra slaughter-house. I worked packing meat for a year before it closed it's doors for the final time. 
From Canberra I returned to the family butcher shop near the coast to start my 4 year apprenticeship as a butcher, which meant working closely with my stepfather on all aspects of butchery. He always gave you the impression that what you were doing was not up to his standards which was good in a way. This always made me try that little bit harder. I think now he is very happy with my achievements as a butcher. It was great working side by side with my mother.  It still amazes me how quick she was with a knife. Dear old mum could debone a chicken quicker then I could. 
After the completion of my trade apprenticeship, I moved to an export boning hall some 200 km commute away, living on a farm in the company of 4 other meat workers. Here I learnt the art of getting a knife razor sharp. Your knife was your best weapon in keeping your wrist in good working order and every night I would ask different people how they sharpened their knives. The answers were many and varied, but the common thread was keeping the sharpening angles exactly the same all the time. I quickly worked my way up from just a laborer to a slicer, which was close to a portion controller, de-fatting meat and trimming correctly for mince or other specified cuts. The next step was one of the hardest challenges in my butchery life, learning to bone out beef hindquarters suspended on a moving conveyor belt. I had been doing this with my dad but this was a whole different game. The carcass was always moving and you had only 4 minutes to do it in. I remember I had 6 weeks to get up to the speed of the other boners some of whom had been there for years. I think for the best part of those 6 weeks I could hardly open a packet of crisps as my hands were so sore from holding a knife and meat hook. But some great times were had. Picture a warehouse full of suspended beef carcasses, with 60 men dressed in full food safety whites, including hat and wellies (gumboots in Australian) singing and dancing along to Sophie Ellis Bextors, Murder on the Dancefloor
Her producer should have come to us for her video clips !
Not long after I made the progression to a fully qualified boner there was a family illness that saw my return back to the family butcher shop. My favourite part of being back in the shop was the customers and the chance to show off my new found knowledge and skills. I worked for my parents for the next 2 years before my girlfriend offered me a chance to run her modern pizza restaurant. Which happened to be right next to a pub, so how could I decline.
Upon moving to London I found that butchers were in high demand and had 3 jobs to choose from in my first week, in London.  My choice was to work at the Smithfield Meat Market for Butcher & Edmonds who used to be in the old Leadenhall market. Trading out of Smithfield, Butcher & Edmonds became one of the biggest catering butchers in London. Both the managers were ex-Allen’s of Mayfair so they really knew their stuff. I learnt some very fine knife skills here, the importance of presentation, speed and timing. All orders were done during the night and after no contact with the general public, I found myself looking elsewhere for work after a year.
After a brief stint with Daylesford Organics, I joined the Ginger Pig @ Borough market. Under the watchful eye of Paul Greatorex, I built my knowledge of meat, breeds and the importance of animal husbandry more than I had in my entire butchery career so far. It was great working with Paul listening to all his stories about the way London butchers used to be. Murray’s meat market and their massive meat displays was often a topic. Paul still carries the photos around with him. They show massive meat displays that were created for competions, every thing from top displays to whole sides of pork hanging above the meat counter. Paul is a very talented butcher; one of London’s best and most passionate. When he left The Ginger Pig I had the chance to become manager and work a little closer with the farm. This involved a couple of trips and over night stays at Ginger Pig HQ in lovely North Yorkshire. Whilst working at “The Pig”, I met some very nice customers who I still love to catch up with and a lot of great chefs like Nuno Mendes, Ben Greeno and Adam Perry Lang of Daisy May’s fame in the States.  Adam eventually asked me to join him and Jamie Oliver in the opening of Barbecoa Restaurant and Butchery. An amazing experience and a real eye opener to just how differently meat is treated across the pond, lots of BBQ, brining, different cuts like short rib (Jacobs Ladder), Denver and especially interesting were the South American influences, like pulled pork or picanhana (the ‘cap’ or top muscle from the rump), more popular in Brazil than Rib eye or Fillet, get yourself some if you haven’t already. I recommend a BBQ or very hot griddle and only cooking to medium rare.
I was in awe of Adams meat ageing room in the Las Vegas restaurant, CarneVino, some 1000 square feet of meat love. And at Barbecoa we really enjoyed having the space to age beef well beyond the UK standard of 28 days – to watch the process week by week and taste the results. As well as fun things like BrawnOff - great food bloggers Meemalee, Aaron Davies, Paul and Danny Kingston invited to make their own brawn and us lucky butchers to taste test and pick a winner.
And currently I am learning about animal welfare as Meat Team Leader at Wholefoods High Street Kensington, come by and say hi.