When Butcher’s Bistro came to college…

A blog post by Cohort 6 apprentice Danielle Morse.

Last Thursday, we were lucky enough to have Chris from Butcher’s Bistro in Newquay at college to demo the butchering down of a whole pig and a whole lamb. He started off with the head and told us how brawn was made. These days it doesn’t sound like a very tempting dish! He then cut from head to tail down the pig. As the whole body was too big to fit on the table, Chris showed us it was easier to cut it in half.

Chris started by taking out the shoulders and de-boning them and then showed us the best way to avoid leaving any waste. As he was talking he told us how each part could be used as a dish which was really interesting. Every time he butchered a part he strung it up, ready to roast and cook. While stringing is better for portioning, it also ensures even cooking and makes the meat look nicer to present. Stringing the meat also ensures there is consistency through each dish, for example, in the case of a pork loin on a carvery. Every time you carve it, it looks the same and any stuffing stays in.
After preparing all of the cuts from the pig, we then moved onto the lamb.

The lamb was on the table in whole as it’s a lot smaller than the pig. Chris explained to us that lambs are typically killed early because before mating and lambing, the meat is more succulent. Mutton produces a much tougher lean meat which may be used in a stew for example.
After we’d prepared the lamb, Chris explained to us the profits that can be made from butchering down and de-boning meat. While you may pay X amount for the whole animal, there is a premium on having a cut of meat and some are more expensive than others, for example, the French chops. You could potentially butcher the meat yourself but you’d need to know how to otherwise there would be lots of wastage. Chris’ demo was between 9am and 12pm but he said he could have done it in 20-30 minutes on his own. Butchers certainly work fast!

After the demonstration there was a bit of time for questions and Chris spoke to us about the knives he uses. He advised us to always sharpen a knife down towards your hand on the steel and never backwards. While you might chop away from you, sharpening in this way blunts the very small teeth on the knife edge. Chris also explained to us that the stamps on the animal show it was healthy when slaughtered and disease free. A second stamp shows that the meat is up to catering standard. A third stamp will tell you whether the meat is organic. All of the animals will have tags in their ears which means the meat can be traced back to the slaughterhouse, farm and field they were in.

At the end of the morning, any wastage from the demo was minced by Sean who then made meat balls so that we could all try the meat. He mixed in sage and rosemary and bulked it out with breadcrumbs. They were really tasty and you could honestly taste the quality and freshness of the meat. I really enjoyed the demo and found it very informative. I think we all agreed we had learnt a lot!

Thank you to Chris from Butcher’s Bistro in Newquay!

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