Monthly Archives: December 2009


After a crazy couple of weeks butchering over the Christmas season, it’s time for a holiday and this time I’m off to South Africa for the cricket, sun, wine and a little bit of work. So I will be back in a couple’ish of weeks with lots of pictures , stories and ideas. In the meantime “Happy New Year”.

Charlie the Butcher.


Wishing you a happy christmas

The meat madness is over, almost finished up at Borough Market and I’m off to the Isle of Wight for Christmas, with a turkey cooked in the aga, a Mrs Kings Pork Pie and a side of smoked salmon I’m sorted. Wishing you all a wicked Christmas, and a great new year.

Charlie the Butcher.

Wood pigeon

With no close season wood pigeon is a fantastic source of game all year-round. But they are best between late spring and early autumn when they have been on the farmer’s crops. They are quite pricey, I got four breasts for £6.60 from Ferness Fish and Game at Borough Market the other day but they are great. If roasting, place some streaky bacon on over the breasts and roast for 20-25 mins at 200c. Remove the bacon for the last 10 mins to fully cook, allow one per person. Thats a simple way of roasting them. I’ve also had them on the bbq!  Give them a go if the weathers good. I like to tart them up a little in a winter salad. It’s easy and well impressive.

Warm winter wood pigeon salad


  • 6 pigeon breasts 6 people for starter or 3 people as a main.
  • 2 thinly sliced raw beetroots
  • 1 pack of lambs lettuce
  • 1 Pomergranate
  • Olive oil, pepper and salt

Stage 1
Season the breasts.

Stage 2
Fry in a pan until plump to the touch about 2 mins either side so they pink in the middle.

Stage 3
Put the lambs lettuce, beet and pomegranate on the plates.

Stage 4
Finish the breasts and slice, give each person one breast for a starter or two for a main dish.

Stage 5
Enjoy with a good glass of full-bodied red.

I think the crunch of the raw beets and the pomegranates popping in the mouth with the gamey pigeon is all a winning recipe. Give it a go….

Charlie the Butcher.

Cheats canapé Caesar Salad

I love holding dinner parties for my mates. I like to provide a good old spread with lots of grub and wine glasses full. It’s always nice to offer my guests some canapés as they arrive to kick-start the evening. This particular canapé came from my old man who is the king of canapés. It’s a twist on the classic Caesar Salad and it doesn’t disappoint. It is ideal for a pre Christmas dinner party canapé. Caesar Salads have been around since 1924, invented by Caesar Cardini an Italian born Mexican who served it in a kitchen in Tijuana. I like to serve each individual salad in a leaf of gem lettuce. It’s very easy, tastes great and always impresses. I have made a cheats easy way of making them and it only contains basic ingredients.


  • One free range or organic skinless chicken breast sliced thinly
  • Mayo,  3 large desert spoons worth
  • Salt and pepper a twist of each
  • Juice from one lemon
  • Two gem lettuces
  • A pinch smoked paprika
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Croutons

Step 1.
Fry the chicken breasts and season them with salt, pepper and olive oil.

Step 2.
Take the outer leaves off the gems and wash.

Step 3.
Mix the mayo, lemon juice, shaved parmesan and paprika for a little kick and colour. Taste to check as it may need more lemon juice or seasoning.

Step 4.
Add the chicken to the mayo and mix.

Step 5.
Spoon onto each gem and serve.

You could also add an anchovy which would add some extra richness to them. I buy my parmesan from Elliott of the Cheese and Ham Co at Borough Market. It’s great stuff, I eat it straight from the cheese box.

Charlie the Butcher.

Horse sausage

It’s that time of year again; yes it’s the busiest time of the butchery calendar but also my yearly jolly up trip to France. It’s turned into a yearly trip with my mates and the Volvo estates boot is getting lower each year we go. Full of cheese, pates, wine and other delights including white chocolate lion bars. But it was one item that jumped out at me this year. I’m a huge sausage lover and it was making them at home that inspired me to enter the butchery trade. I’ve made lots of different type and tasted hundreds of types from the basic pork to kangaroo. But sitting on the shelf in the supermarket city Europe meat counter was mini saucissons de cheval fumes fecules (horse sausage). Now I’m always interested in tasting new meats and products, so this was an offer to good to turn my nose up. Two euros for about ten cocktail horse sausages seemed very cheap and I dread to think of the quality of the meat but I’m sure horses live a decent life as it was killed and born in France. After we got back to London a little tired and a lighter wallet I couldn’t wait to taste them. But I wasn’t sure on how best to cook them as they looked like a boiling sausage. So I decided to take them to work and ask the guys in the la Marche de counter in the market, but as luck had it my friend Adam Perry Laing who is the king of the bbq popped in, and he can talk and read French. He filled me in with all the information, 51% horse meat, 20% pork fat and the rest with stupid E numbers and horrid coloring agents, but he said they were smoked as well, and told me best to par boil them then slowly fry them. So with the bad news that they were filled with E numbers and other wired stuff I still wanted to try them. So I cooked them to the instruction and let them cool slightly and tasted them. Well they were horrid, tasted like a cheap frankfurter. More like a meat paste with smoking flavorings packed into the fake casings. I was very sausaged off! But the search for a decent horse sausage is not up, and if you can help me find a good horse banger please tell me.

Charlie the Butcher.

Goose fat

With the goose getting fat and Christmas orders flying in at the market, it is time to get the store cupboard up to stock. Goose has become very popular over the past years but it has been around since 2500 BC and it is where we get the delicious fat from. Years ago the fat was never given to you when you bought the bird from your butcher because it was exported to France and other countries with a different culinary tradition. But times are changing and people are becoming more aware of its delights.

It was the great Elizabeth David, who is responsible for bringing French food into the British home, that was also responsible for saving goose fat. In an article in House & Garden (1958), she describes how to cook a goose and writes, “The fat from the bird should be separated from the juices and poured off into a bowl, for it is very valuable for frying.”

So the revival of the goose fat began. It is great melted and spread over roasting potatoes, it gives them the crunch and the full meaty flavour. It is easy to store, just keep the jar refrigerated as it is a solid fat and becomes fairly liquid at room temperature. It solidifies between 16°C and 22°C and has a melting point between 25°C and 37°C. Goose fat has a high burning (or smoke) point which means foods can be cooked at a high temperature without the fat burning or breaking down making it ideal to use for roast spuds. It is also great for confits, chips, frying onions, and even melted and on toast mmmm …….. It is available from delis, butchers shops and other decent food shops priced around £3 – £5 per jar,.

Treat yourself and enjoy.

Charlie the Butcher.


People ask me “Charlie the Butcher, what is the best beef steak ?”. The answer is unique to everyone. Some like big t-bones and others like a tender fillet. But one of the most common steaks in restaurants and butchers shops around the globe is the famous “sirloin” steak. It is a fantastic steak packed full of flavour and available in different sizes. Its taken from the loin (back) of a bovine. It has a lovely creamy looking external fat covering it and a great taste. I think its best cooked medium-rare on a cast iron griddle pan, just seasoned with sea salt, pepper and the best olive oil you can get your mitts on.

But why is it called sirloin ?  Some people say it’s because of King Henry VIII(1491 – 1547) was a big fan of the steak and as it is taken from the loin, he came up with ‘Sir Loin’, as though he had knighted the noble meat.  But other searches have come back as it coming from the word “surloine”, which itself was derived from the old french word “surlonge” or  “sur la longe” meaning above the loin, and over time it has evolved to sirloin. In modern French, the term has further evolved to become aloyau or faux-filet.

So you can make your own mind up. I like the King Henry story so that’s got my vote.

Charlie the Butcher.