Good Food Blog
Have a butcher's?Posted at 11:30AM, 16 March 2011 by Carol Wilson - Food writer
Only a few years ago there were four butchers' shops in my town, now there's just one and sadly it's a pattern that's being repeated all over Britain. Increasing numbers of shoppers apparently prefer to buy meat and poultry in supermarkets, with the convenience of being able to buy everything under one roof.
I want to know where my meat came from, how it was raised and where it was killed
I always buy meat from my local butcher rather than the supermarket, as I know that the beef for instance will have been hung for longer, which improves the flavour and texture enormously. I can choose the breed of meat, ( saltmarsh lamb for example tastes completely different from other lamb) the thickness of the cut and which farm it has come from. I want to know where my meat came from, how it was raised and where it was killed. I know my meat comes from farms in the region, which helps the local economy too. In contrast, supermarket meat and poultry is often labelled simply 'Product of the EU'.
There's simply no comparison with supermarket meat when it comes to succulence and taste, although of course I don't expect an independent local butcher to be able to match the prices of a major supermarket; my local superstore currently has packs of four sirloin steaks for £8, which I wouldn't even consider buying as I know they'll be tough and flavourless.
I'm fortunate as my butcher frequently sells rare breed meat. Recently I tried Dexter beef, which has a greater level of fat marbling than that of supermarket beef. It's also darker, partly due to the breed and partly because the carcass is properly hung to produce a tender, better flavoured meat.
It's a good idea to get to know your butcher. Mine, like any good butcher, will cut meat to my requirements and if you tell him what you're cooking, he will suggest the best cut. He makes his own sausages (95% meat) is happy to weigh out 110g liver for someone living alone and minces beef as people ask for it too, so it's not sitting around in a tray all day long. I also know that if I give him notice he'll bone a leg of lamb - something a supermarket wouldn't be likely to do.
National Butchers' Week (13-20 March) was set up four years ago to raise awareness locally and increase their trade and also as a prospective career to young people. It's up to us, the consumers, to recognise that our butcher is the best place to buy locally produced, high quality meat. It's a depressing thought that if we don't support our local butchers they will disappear.
Do you use your local butcher?