Seeing as this week is National Butchers’ Week, I thought I’d make my Sunday post about The Ginger Pig beef butchery class that we attended last summer, as I referred to briefly in a previous post.
As I mentioned, my dad worked for the Meat and Livestock Commission for his whole life up until the late 1990’s when he retired, and spent a lot of time working with local butchers and abattoirs to make sure top standards were maintained, to ensure high quality meat, which is something that has always been important to me. The message behind National Butchers’ Week is that “butchers remain the number one choice for range, service and convenience when it comes to purchasing meat,” which I couldn’t agree with more. I think the problem these days is that it’s all too easy to include meat in your weekly food shop at the nearest big supermarket, rather than having to take a detour to a local butcher. In fact, I think it’s the same with fish, and even cheese, to an extent. Tim and I both lead busy lives and have our food delivered via online shopping with one of the major UK supermarkets. Living in London and not having a car, it’s actually the easiest and cheapest way of doing things. But it often means that we sadly have to sacrifice good quality meat from the butchers – we try and visit the local butcher when we can, or we order from local butchers that offer an online delivery service.
We were excited about attending the beef butchery course at The Ginger Pig (I bought the vouchers as a Christmas present for Tim), if a little nervous – as much as we love cooking, we couldn’t exactly say that we knew how to chop up a cow! We arrived at the Moxton Street branch in Marylebone where we were met by our lovely butcher, who gave us our rather dashing grey overalls and made us feel very welcome.
There were about eight of us in the class, and we gathered around a table where the beef had been laid out. Obviously due to the size of the animal, it’s unrealistic to work on the whole thing, so the class focused on the centre part where the sirloin, rump, forerib and fillet are found.
After being taught about the breeds that are reared on The Ginger Pig farm, how they dry age their meat and what to look for when buying (which was incredibly useful), the butcher then went on to teach us about cutting and preparing joints of beef.
Once all of this was done, we were given the opportunity to prepare our own côte de boeuf joint each to take home. I had expected this part to take a bit longer – in fact, this was over in about 10-15 minutes. But to be honest, I think I got more out of being able to learn about beef and what to buy, rather than spending the time attempting to butcher it myself.
Then, as if all of that wasn’t enough, we were treated to a meal of roast rib of beef that had been prepared while we were there, with salad and deliciously creamy (and garlicy!) dauphinoise potatoes, followed by a yummy bread and butter pudding to finish (with plenty of wine throughout!)
The butchery class isn’t cheap. It’s £155.00 per person, which includes the course (lasting 3 and a half hours), the dinner, and the meat that you prepared to take home with you. Considering we ended up with two huge côte de boeuf joints, which in themselves would probably have cost about £60.00 each, and a delicious meal, I think it’s actually pretty good value for money. Although something you’ll probably only do for a special occasion.
I can’t wait to try another of the classes. When we went to book last summer, they offered beef, pork, lamb and sausage making classes, but I’ve seen that they now also do poultry and seasonal game classes.
When was the last time you visited your local butcher? In fact, have you ever visited your local butcher, or have you always relied on the supermarket for your meat? Why not find out who your local butcher is, and pop in to see what they have to offer?