Thursday, 24 October 2013
... this story is for meat-lovers only, unless, as a vegetarian and with Halloween so close, you feel the need for a classic tale of family horror... because here's a story about how I met Gareth one of the worlds most valuable Angus bulls... how I met his wives... and then how I ate their children... and how very tasty they were too...
... the good people at Quality Standard Beef and Lamb kindly invited me to visit a very special farm in Gloucestershire, a farm where I would suggest the benchmark for the Quality Standard mark is set. I've talked often on this blog about eating good quality meats and how, in my opinion, reducing the amount you eat meat in favour for buying better quality meat that may be slightly more expensive will in the long term be better for you, the livestock and the whole food chain in general and this visit to meet Gareth confirmed for me that I should stick to this hypothesis and it also reaffirmed my belief that here in the UK we're not only producing some of the worlds best quality meat but we're also going a very long way to ensuring the livestock are well looked after from farm to fork.
it was a fascinating day and I learnt an awful lot about how the quality mark is met and how the criteria is set... I also learnt quite a bit about how and why certain breeds make for better meat and how feeding them specific foods along with natural freshly growing grass goes such a long way towards the final flavour of the meat... I also learnt about the shape and definition of what makes Gareth such a high-quality bull... and the detail is intense, from every cow having their own passport - the number of which you will find on each piece of Quality Standard meat, to educating farmers on the change in attitude toward meat and when their meat is ready for the market...
...so I guess the out-take from this day on the farm is that if you're buying meat in the UK you should look out for the Quality Standard mark on the meat you buy, wether it be in the supermarket or the butcher, you should try and learn where the meat is from and the journey it's had to your table...
roast shoulder of lamb
lesson over and time for the good stuff... of course the best part of the day was the eating and I came away with some fantastic tips on how to cook different cuts of beef and lamb... and I was so very lucky enough to have been sent an incredible cushion of shoulder of lamb from the good people at The Ginger Pig who only purchase meat with the Quality Standard mark... the cushion dressing involved the removal of the bone so the joint becomes incredibly easy to carve, which is a major plus in my book... I actually called the phone number on the Ginger Pig website and spoke with a lovely chap who suggested this very simple way of cooking the lamb... and i'm so glad I did...
1 cushion of shoulder of lamb - your butcher should be able to dress it this way
1 large onion - quartered
5 cloves garlic
2 large purple carrots (just for some halloween flavour you understand...)
a sprig of thyme
pre-heat the oven to 130C
place the veg and a sprig of thyme into a large lidded casserole dish and season.
lay the lamb on top, place the lid on and roast for 2 and a half hours, then take the lid off and turn the heat up to 180C for 20 mins until beautifully golden and crispy
eat and of course, enjoy!