Butcher for an evening
Have you ever fancied your hand at butchery?
In my opinion, if you’re eating meat, it’s really important to have some understanding of what you’re eating, where it’s coming from and how it’s prepared. There’s also something very satisfying about carving your own pork chops from an organic sow - very hunter-gatherer.
This year, I’m embarking on a journey of culinary education. I’m gradually swapping supermarket packaging and the very occasional ready meal for the real deal. And, learning to give fresh, organic produce the respect it deserves.
On Monday 30th January I was a butcher for the evening. White coat, stripy apron, meat cleaver and all. The Quality Chop House, Farringdon offers full carcass butchery course for pork, lamb and beef.
I went for pork, who doesn’t love crackling? It was a very impressive evening – not for the faint hearted. And I feel much better informed for it.
Now I can’t say it’s a very extensive list, I was a bit distracted with the bone saw. But here are a few tips for fabuous pork, straight from the pig’s mouth:
Give me the rib end: When you're at your butcher, always ask for 'rib end' chops. They’re super tender and have just the right amount of fat, more than a loin but not so much to be overpowering. Make sure you snip the fat every cm before you fry or grill - this always the fat to get really crisp and delicious.
Sharpen your knives: This may seem obvious, but it really is key. You want your blade to do the work, not your body. You'll need to use force in certain areas but generally you'll need a very sharp knife and a bit of precision and patience.
Get a meat thermometer: Cooking large pieces of meat can be joyous when done properly but a daunting task to start. Cooking times vary a lot, particularly when you get up to bigger cuts. Get yourself a good meat thermometer and you can't go wrong! This Thermapen is a chef’s favourite, you don't have to stick it far to get an accurate reading.
Waste not, want not: There’s no need for sausages to be full of husk and hooves. If you’re using large cuts of meat or butchering, why not make your own sausages? It’s all about getting the ratios right - 25% fat and 75% meat. You can easily buy sausages mincers with attachments for churning them out. You’ll just need a space for hanging!
Eat happy pigs: Organic produce just tastes better – we all know that. But it’s not just the taste, pigs that are killed humanly have a better texture too. The fat stays soft, white and thick. If a pig is distressed at the time of slaughter, the fat gets pumped full of adrenaline and becomes congealed and gelatinous. You can tell a pig is organic by the amount of back fat. Free range pigs are kept outside and develop a healthy layer of fat to keep them warm as opposed to their very lean counter parts.
If you’re gift hunting for a meat lover, keen cook or just someone looking to try something new, look no further. This thoroughly enjoyable course is insightful, in a beautiful setting and followed by a fabulous meal and a meaty goody bag.
For more details, head over to speak to the friendly folk at The Quality Chop House.