For me, steak on a Saturday night is something I revere and a proper treat (and yes it always tastes better on a Saturday).
Not only because a tasty steak can’t be beaten but because ours are home grown.
All of our cattle spend the majority of the year outside – growing slowly in order to produce the best meat.
Now, while we are used to Highland meat, we are well on our way to switching breeds to Hereford.
Our cattle are terribly important to us and we treat our beef with as much care in the kitchen as we do in the field.
The thing is, you need to respect the meat – and use it all.
Earlier in the week we chatted to our butcher about the cutting list for the two beasts that were sent to slaughter a few weeks ago.
As of today the carcasses have been hanging for more than three weeks and will be cut in the next few days.
Working out a cutting list is so interesting and vital to making the most of the animal.
In a recent article in Country Life the importance of securing a future for British beef was laid out.
It really rang true.
It talked of the respect the Japanese have for the pedigree of their Wagyu beef and the fact that in Britain quality is all too often sacrificed for quantity…
“By making beef a commodity we have reduced its value and made it commonplace, not unique. As a result, it’s not seen as special and doesn’t command a special price, so farmers have to produce more and more simply to make a living. That’s led to over-stocking and the industrialised farming that revolts so many.”
The article went on to highlight the work of a farmer in Suffolk who is seeking Defra approval for a Wagyu breed society having established a herd of 400 head.
In Japan, Wagyu commands five times the price of the average carcass – much of this is due to the fact that it is from a known source with a known history.
“A good steak restuarnat in Tokyo or Kyoto will present the diner with a document laying out a family tree – not of the owner, but of the pedigree of the meat you are about to eat.”
The article was summed up with the opinion that in a post-Brexit world we should be concentrating on quality not quantity, with not only wagyu beef commanding a premium but great British breeds too.
The way to do this – and the future for beef in Britian – the article says, is to identify the farm, the parentage and the feeding regime, asking for a price based on quality not size.
The feature really made me think about our beef.
It echoed what I’ve often thought, not only about beef, but lamb and pork too – we should be respecting the animal, it’s history and heritage and making sure that the end product is maximised to make the most of the beast.
So when it came to our cutting list we made sure that we did just that.
When you visit a butchers you have a choice of cuts at your disposal, but when you take delivery of a whole beast, you are often faced with cuts you wouldn’t necessarily choose.
This is a great thing.
To me, there seems to be a resurgence of sorts with particular cuts of beef that have for so long been out of fashion.
I look forward to cooking with brisket, shin, short ribs and oxtail and with more modern cuts such as hanger steak and flat iron steak.