We have a butcher’s behind the scenes at one of the UK’s best home-reared meat purveyors…
This week is National Butchers’ Week, and all across the country we are celebrating this authentic, traditional trade. Butchery is something that is very much a part of our heritage. As we become more source-savvy cooks more and more of us are seeking out the guys that really know where our meat has come from; can provide a personal service and show enthusiasm for their work. No shrink-wrapped fillets here, this week is about celebrating ‘real’ meat and the real people working the trade.
One such place that has been championing home-reared produce and boasts one of the best on-site butcheries, is Trevaskis Farm. They have picked up awards for their home-reared British Lop pork and South Devon beef, and people flock from far and wide get their hands on the best cuts, finest sausages, free-range chicken and speciality meats such as game and wild boar.
So, where better to get the low-down on all things meaty? We caught up with Trevaskis Farm butcher, Peter Davis, to find out about what makes British butcher’s great, how best to buy your cuts and what the up-coming trends to watch for are…
What made you get into butchery and what do you enjoy most about your job?
I’ve been doing butchery for over 30 years, now. My story begins in London where I worked at Smithfield Market. At first I worked one day a week as part of my qualification, and it really ignited a passion for this work, and I knew that this is what I wanted to do. I showed such enthusiasm for the trade that I ended up being offered a three-day week job at Smithfield Market. From there I had my own shop in London, before relocating to Cornwall 16 years ago. I worked at a butchers in St Keverne out on The Lizard before starting at Trevaskis Farm in 2006.
Is all your meat from Trevaskis Farm?
All our pork is reared on the farm. We only use rare-breed British Lop Pork, which has been reared by the Eustice family for over 400 years and is one of the rarest breeds in the Country. We also sell our own-reared South Devon beef where possible. For a farm of our size the demand can sometimes be hard to meet, but we always make sure that we use other trusted local suppliers for our beef, lamb, poultry and game, if it hasn’t been reared on the farm.
Has the market changed since you’ve been working in the industry?
Yes, dramatically. I’d say the market has totally changed from what it was when I very first started out. I think when I began in the butchery trade customers would come in and know exactly what they wanted, people were more savvy to how to shop from butchers counters. Now we enjoy teaching our customers about the cuts and quantities. It’s just a case of re-educating people. With the rise of supermarkets, there are plenty of people who have never shopped in a traditional butchers. People are intrigued when they visit us for the first time; our counter is carcass formed, so nothing comes in a box and we cut to order.
If someone wanted to learn more about working with different meats, what would you suggest?
The best thing to do is get involved with as much as possible. Start by looking for an apprenticeship – here in Cornwall we are very lucky to have such an array of local suppliers and small independent businesses and these are the best places to start. We train all our butchers in house so the skill level and customer service is always consistent.
In your opinion, why is a traditional butcher’s best?
Shop at a traditional butchers and you will get exactly what you’ve asked for. It’s a personal service and only a reputable butcher will give you exactly what you want. Not only that but you can see exactly what you’re buying; you know where it’s come from, and it’s always going to be fresher than anything you get from a supermarket.
What top tips would you give to someone new to buying from a butchers?
Give us a try – we’re not as expensive as you think we are. Quite often people perceive independent butchers as far more pricey than a supermarket, but actually we’re very competitive with our prices. Additionally, when you shop at a traditional butchers you only need to buy the weights you require so waste is kept to a minimum.
What cut of meat do you see being the next ‘big thing’ on the scene?
Recently we’ve been seeing certain cuts edging to the forefront and they are the ones that have previously been out of fashion. Shin of beef and cheaper stewing joints are becoming more popular, as well as joints of less-well-known cuts. These are the cuts that customers have been shied away from previously, simply because they are cheaper, but they are excellent when slow-cooked, especially on the bone, and I think this knowledge is spreading.
Do you have anything going on in the shop for National Butcher’s Week?
Yes, we’ll have some really great offers running all week – each day we are going to pick a selection of products to discount for those who mention ”we support national butchers week ”. These will range from 20% off through to 50% off.
Sounds like the perfect excuse to get yourself down there – not only to pick up some choice cuts at a great price, but also to have a chat with this guy and his team. We think it makes such a difference to meet the people behind your food, and that is exactly what National Butcher’s Week is all about. They also have a restaurant on-site at Trevaskis Farm, you can read our review of it here.
As Peter’s favourite thing to cook is a beef stew made from on-the-bone shin of Trevaskis Farm beef, we thought we’d share one of our favourite beer-braised beef stew recipes. Why not pop along to Travakis Farm, pick up some tasty cuts and celebrate this National Butcher’s Week by supporting local businesses and tucking into tasty, heartwarming meals?
Beer-braised on-the-bone beef stew – from BBC Food Recipes
6 tbsp oil
2 large onions
2-3 celery sticks
½ garlic bulb
3 tbsp plain flour, for dusting
2kg/4lb 8oz shin of beef, bone in (ask your butcher to cut it into 3cm/1¼in slices)
568ml/1 pint your favourite ale
300ml/½ pint beef stock
3-4 sprigs rosemary
Salt and pepper to season
- Preheat the oven to 160C/140C Fan/Gas 3. Chop the onions, carrots, celery, and finely slice the garlic.
- Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a large heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic and fry until they start to colour.
- Transfer the fried veg to a large casserole dish.
- Put the flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper. Coat the beef in the flour and shake off any excess flour. Turn the heat up to high, then add the remaining oil to the frying pan. Fry the beef, in batches, for 1 minute on each side until browned all over.
- Add the beef to the casserole dish. Add a splash of ale to the frying pan and scrape off any cooked on pieces of food, then pour it all into the casserole dish.
- Pour in the remaining ale, the beef stock and rosemary. Put in the oven and cook for 3-4 hours, or until the meat falls easily from the bone.
- While that is cooking, prepare some mash potato. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to the boil and cook up some potatoes for15-20 minutes until tender. Drain and return to the pot. Mash until smooth. Mix in the butter and milk.
- Dish up the mash and spoon the delicious stew over it – enjoy.