More and more I feel like the choice to eat meat should come with a certain responsibility and commitment to good animal husbandry. And the best way to be certain of this is to buy from trusted local farmers.
If it’s possible I like to purchase whole animals for meat, I’m more likely to know who farmed it, it’s a good price, and it’s nice to know where the meat comes from, what it was fed on, the breed etc. Whole cows.. now that’s quite a commitment, you’d better have a huge party imminent, and plenty of time! either that or an empty large chest freezer to hand. There is a lot of meat on a cow! An average Red Poll for example will feed around 400 people, but of course that’s numerous different cuts of meat, which need to be prepared and cooked in several different ways, using 1 cow is actually a very tricky way to feed a large party, and it’s unlikely that the host would be happy for some guests to feast on fillet while others make do with topside..
Of course pigs are often roasted whole for hog roasts and usually very good value for money. There’s so much you can do with a pig! From succulent 6 hour cooked belly, or bbqed ribs in sticky sweet sauce, to long roasted stuffed shoulder and the finer cut of loin or tenderloin. We don’t tend to use the bones in our stock here in the UK much, some countries do however, Japanese Ramen relies on a good pork stock boiled for several hours. Whole pigs will feed around 100 people and pretty much all of it can be roasted slowly in the same way, your leaner cuts won’t be quite so delicate, but I think this is a pretty good pay off to be able to feed a large party all at once without too much hassle.
Whole lambs, well they’re about the easiest of the larger beasts to butcher, we use sheep excellently farmed on the Hoveton Estate, Norfolk. A whole lamb is around 25-30kgs and once butchered, trimmed and cooked feeds around 45 people. At the cafe legs and shoulders get slow roasted, the neck braised, belly perhaps also braised and then breadcrumbed, crisp fried and served with a spiky dip such as zourg or salsa verde. The saddle perhaps stuffed whole and roasted. It makes a great wedding dish does stuffed saddle of lamb, we make a stuffing using lamb mince, pine nuts, spinach, roasted garlic and breadcrumbs. if it’s a classic French or Italian dish. maybe a little cumin, kalamata olives and feta cheese if we want to go towards Greek or Moorish cuisine.
The offal of the lamb (hearts, liver, kidneys, alas I’ve never prepared a lung..) we usually sell in the cafe as classic dishes; devilled lambs kidneys on toast, chargrilled lambs liver and bacon, mash ‘n onions or braised stuffed hearts…the sweetbreads (brain not bo****ks!) are fantastic poached, peeled of their membrane and then dipped in cornflour and gently sautéed in butter, served simply with perhaps a smooth purée such as cauliflower, a few intense pinhead capers, sea salt, parsley and a squeeze of lemon to tart them up.
The bones of the lamb of course are made into brown stock, and then usually a Madeira or red wine sauce.
Here the leg is slowly roasted with date syrup, glazed and then served with baked aubergines tossed in a spiky dressing.
- 1 leg lamb
- 1/2 bulb garlic
- 1 white onion sliced
- 2 carrots sliced
- Few sprigs thyme
- 3 tablespoons of date syrup
- Salt and pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground, toasted cumin
Pre heat oven to 140oc
Place the onions, carrots, garlic and thyme in a large roasting tray.
Place the lamb on top.
Mix the date syrup, cumin and seasoning with 1 pint boiling water and pour over the lamb.
Cover with a sheet of greaseproof and then foil tightly.
Bake for 4 and a half hours.
- 3 large aubergines large diced
- 200 ml olive or rapeseed oil
- 2 cloves garlic sliced
- Salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon of thyme leaves
Toss together and place in a baking tray, bake on 170oc for 25 minutes or until soft.
- 200g cooked beetroot roughly chopped
- Juice 1 lemon
- 100ml olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
Purée it all
- 1 bunch fresh coriander
- 1 clove garlic peeled
- 1 tablespoon jalepino peppers
- 50 ml cider vinegar
- Juice 1 lemon
- 100 ml olive oil
- Plenty of salt to season
Purée it all.
Greek yogurt to splat where required
Serve with warm flatbread.