Over the past few decades, true butchery has become something of a lost art form. The rise of supermarkets and vacuum packed meats have made it simpler than ever to pick up the week’s meat shopping without even having to talk to a butcher.
Now, in the wake of the horsemeat scandal that has rocked the food industry throughout the EU; it is clearer than ever that we have compromised quality for convenience.
There was a time when the doting family shopper would haggle and jest with the local butcher about their meats and their prices. Whilst this was under the guise of gentle fun, it served a very real a serious purpose: to discover the source and history of the meat.
The supermarket trend now means that meats can get away with one word descriptions such as ‘topside’ or ‘rump’, whilst little explanation for its origin is offered.
This makes it more important than ever that we educate ourselves rediscover where our meat is coming from. There are two distinct paths that can be taken with this education:
– Understanding the principle of meat and its production
– Discovering how to personally butcher
Both of these can be accrued by talking to your local butcher. For the former, do not be afraid to quiz them about the origin of any of their meats.
A quality butcher will be able to explain what part of the animal the joint is from, where in the world the animal is from and the approximate age it was upon its death.
Also enquire about the professional practices of the butcher, ensure that they take full and proper care for their equipment and effectively clean their commercial butchers block every day.
The latter method may require a few lessons from a qualified and dedicated butcher. There are butchery lessons available throughout the country that can educate individuals everything from the correct usage of butcher knives to joint preparation. Getting to grips with a fresh joint will help the amateur butcher identify high quality meats and detect any tell-tale signs of defect.
Using a butcher mincer, it is prudent to create fresh mince and beef burgers from fresh cuts of meat. The beef burger was the most affected of all food products in the recent horsemeat scandal so fresh preparation will teach the individual how to identify quality mince.
Until a uniform quality is attached to meat preparation throughout the EU, it is prudent to be well versed in meat production to ensure complete satisfaction and safety.