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Easter Feast

Way back, before the days of Meat London, I was the General Manger of a food import company. One day, as we were trying to recruit for our sales team, I received an application from a young guy who, amongst other things, listed ‘Scalextric test driver’ as a previous job. Well, I needed no further encouragement. He got the job. As a kid, Scalextric was probably my greatest Christmas gift ever. I can still remember back to my 7 year old self playing day and night with my sisters. To us it was magical. But, ‘Scalextric test driver’? Can that really be a job? Well it is, and it got me thinking about other jobs that seem too good to be true.

If you get to thinking about it, there are loads of great jobs, but, closer to home, surely tasting food and wine all day is up there? It has it’s moments, without doubt, but on closer inspection, it has it’s downsides too. I spent nearly ten years as a food buyer at Harvey Nichols, and I applied a rule to myself that I have always insisted is continued at Meat London. If we take a prospective product from an existing or a new supplier, we taste it. For good or bad, someone has made a huge effort to get their product to market. They will have worked hard, investing time and money, and they will be very proud of what they have produced. It would be rude to take the product, and then not to at least taste it. Whilst we often come across some delicious stuff, I have eaten some really awful things too!! In our pursuit of keeping our shelves full of new and innovative products, we will often be found firing up the BBQ or lining up the latest range of cheeses, hot sauces or condiments, teaspoons at the ready. About ten jars into any tasting, the glamour does often wear off. And beers and wines? Attending a suppliers portfolio wine tasting usually means being confronted with possibly hundreds of wines to choose from. Needless to say, we have to be very discerning when thinking what to taste. The next time you are in a fresh food shop, look around and ask yourself where you would start if you wanted to create your own range. Buying food and wine is loads of fun, but it can play havoc with the midriff!!

Easter Feast

It happens sometimes, we get two Easter’s in one financial year, and this March, we get exactly that. The last weekend will be Easter, and we are gradually turning our minds to the holiday weekend. In cosmopolitan Britain, not everyone joins in the religious festival, but who can miss the fun of Hot Cross Buns, delicious lamb with family and friends and, of course, an excuse to gorge on chocolate at every turn. The poor weather at the start of this year, coupled with an early Easter, means that there will be no New Season Lamb, but in truth, I think the lamb is generally fantastic at the moment. Lambs born last Spring will be moving towards the Hogget stage, and are full of flavour, while maintaining a succulent tenderness.

Depending on appetites, a full leg will feed between 8 and 12 people. Of course, we can cut the leg to a suitable size. Best for a traditional roast, placed into the roasting pan with a few herbs, seasoning and maybe a garlic bulb. A shake of the oil bottle and the leg will cook beautifully. Just add veg and potatoes. For smaller numbers, the Rack is a delicious treat. Usually 8 Cutlets, let the butcher chine the Rack and tie the bone back on. The Rack can then be cooked, using the bone as a natural trivet, releasing flavoursome juices for the sauce. For something a little more leisurely, and possibly less formal, a whole Shoulder, bone in, will cook slowly, covered in the oven for four to six hours, allowing time to sit with guests while enjoying an aperitif, and catching up. A whole Shoulder is easily enough for 10 and, again, we can cut to size. At Meat London we have a large selection of Angus and Oink dry rubs that lend themselves to creating amazing flavours for the slow cooks. If cooking on the bone is not for you, have the Shoulder boned and rolled. A lovely option. Finally, on Page 154 of ‘Meat London – the Book’, I wax lyrical about the decadence of a boned and rolled Lamb Saddle. It is one of my favourite cuts. For 6 to 8 people, the Saddle offers a picture on the plate. As with the leg, a few herbs, good seasoning and a sprinkle with a little oil. The Saddle will cook perfectly to your taste. A tip here is to ensure that the Saddle rests for at least 20 minutes after cooking. This will give the meat time to rest, and ensure that it doesn’t fall apart while carving and serving. I have purposely here not gone into cooking times and oven temperatures. It’s a lot to write about, and to read, but please do ask the teams in the shops. They know these things!

Lamb Saddle Recipe

Of course, it’s not all about lamb. We will have plenty of Pork, Beef and Poultry. Our Cheese fridges will be replenished, and, in line with my comments above, this week Gessica and I selected two amazing wines for our Easter offer, to go alongside the huge selection of international wines that are already in our shops.

Paint brushes at the ready

Easter, of course, brings out the artistic prowess in our little Meat London customers. Our Easter Painting competition is always greatly anticipated by the kids and is a well supported event. We ask our budding Picasso’s and Tracy Emin’s to draw or paint their finest Easter Bunny or Chick and to pin their exhibit to our shop walls. Every entry wins a prize and on Good Friday our guest judges will pick out the winning entry for the Grand Prize. Entry forms are available in our shops, and the only real rules are that we only want pictures featuring Bunnies and Chicks, and entries must be A4 size (for fairness).

Visit our wine section

As a quick reminder, if you have guests coming for the weekend, or you would like to top up your Spring wine rack, remember that we have a number of incentives for you, including discounts on our ‘Two Wine’ boxes, and discounts on cases of 6 or more. There is more information in the shops, or we can discuss it at our regular weekend tastings. See you there. 

Cherry Cola Beef Short Ribs

Liberally cover the Short Ribs with the Cherry Cola rub and leave to marinade overnight.

Using 1/3 of a Chimney Starter (around 8 briquettes), get the BBQ to 140˚. Set the BBQ for indirect cooking, with lit briquettes to one side of the BBQ and add the wood chunks. Smoke penetrates meat when it’s raw. Once a layer of cooked meat forms on the outside, smoking has little effect.
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Lamb Saddle with Caramelised Baby Onions and White Wine Jus

Lamb Saddle

I make no secret of the fact that this is one of my favourite cuts. The saddle is from the middle of the animal and is all soft, tender meat. Rolled properly, it looks so elegant and is a real winner for any dinner party. Adding the soft, sweet baby onions on the side is a bit like putting a silk hanky in your pocket before you leave the house. An unassuming touch of decadence.
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Beef Wellington

With Christmas upon us, I am proposing the always decadent Beef Wellington. ‘Celebrity’ Chefs, and all those weekend glossy mags, will tell you that only a ‘Centre Cut’ Beef Fillet will do the job. That’s all very well if you are running a smart restaurant, and you want every piece to look the same, but the Rump Fillet, Chateaubriand, has all the flavour, is just as tender and will save a few pennies. It’s my cut of choice. As with all good things, your Beef Wellington will need a little investment of money and time, but, as it sets off your festive table, you will decide it is worth the effort. (BTW; this is the Christmas treat destined for my table this year).
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