Monthly Archives: September 2010

An Evening of Meat

On Monday 1st November me and my good friend Ben Greeno of supper club Tudor Road will be hosting ‘An Evening of Meat’.  It was decided over a couple of drinks and we both thought it would be a great idea to share our skills and passion. Ben is a very talented chef and over the last few years he has spent his time working around Europe, including two stints at Restaurant Sat Bains and two at Noma in Copenhagen where he was the first cook employed at the then unknown venture.  You will experience a wide range of different cuts of meat, a butchery demonstration and be talked through each course by Ben and myself.  We will be using unusual meat cuts complemented along the way with matching drinks.  Over the evening you will be served six courses along with matching drinks,  it will cost £80 per person.  Spaces are limited to 10 people.  For bookings please email

Hopefully see you on the 1st.

Charlie the Butcher.



Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga and meat. You would think they are miles apart. Well …. read on.

Gaga is a little wild, but this time she has gone one step crazier. She decided to pose on the front cover of Japanese Vogue magazine covering her body in beef steaks. Gaga told Q Magazine “For my next album I’d like it to be about meat and I want to be wearing a bacon bikini. Also I want my records to smell of sausages or pork.”  So watch out next time you are in HMV !  She is one crazy cat.  I was thinking of a meat outfit. The ideas I came up with were pork steaks for shoes, slices of back bacon for a vest and if fancy dress is call for then ox tail for a tail. Any other clothing items that you can think of please post them!

Charlie the Butcher.

Verjuice – my special ingredient

OK- time for me to share a little secret with you !  It might well be the next big thing !

Verjuice (from Middle French vertjus “green juice”) is a very acidic juice made by pressing unripe grapes. Sometimes lemon or sorrel juice, herbs or spices are added to change the flavour. In the Middle Ages, it was widely used all over Western Europe as an ingredient in sauces, as a condiment, or to deglaze.

Picking green grapes for making verjuice. Tacuinum Sanitatis (1474). Paris Bibliothèque Nationale.

It was once used where modern cooks would use either wine or some variety of vinegar, but has become much less widely used as wines and variously flavoured vinegars became more accessible. Nonetheless, it is still used in a number of French dishes as well as recipes from other European and Middle Eastern cuisines.

The South Australian cook Maggie Beer has popularised the use of verjuice in her cooking, and it is being used increasingly in South Australian restaurants. Take a look at her website.

Maggie Beer's verjuice

Verjuice is first and foremost a flavour enhancer, adding richness and flavourful complexity to all your cooking with its balance of gentle acidity and sweetness.

Verjuice is also an elegant, delicate alternative to both vinegar and lemon juice and can be used in larger quantities than either of these in cooking. It adds zest to your food, avoiding the sharpness of both vinegar and lemon juice and therefore, does not mask flavours but rather enhances them.

It heightens the flavours of any fish, chicken, game, red meat, vegetable and fruit dishes. It is ideal for deglazing, dressings, syrups, sauces, marinades, gravies and reductions. It has an affinity with nut oils, e.g., walnut, hazelnut and peanut oil and emulsifies well with olive oil.

Range of verjuices from Verjuice UK

It isn’t always easy to get hold of but it is stocked in Harvey Nicholls Food Halls and after a bit of persuading I think that some Waitrose stores may have it on their shelves.  An alternative is to order it direct from Verjuice UK, new on-line supplier of South African sourced verjuice.

For all my meat fans I will suggest a seasonal recipe but the real deal is …….

Deglazing with Verjuice

Set aside your roast/fries/grills and any vegetables that you have cooked with the meat.
Remove excess fat from the pan, leaving approximately 1 teaspoonful. Over a medium heat, add 225 ml verjuice and using a wooden spoon, scrape up the brown bits, incorporating them into the verjuice.

Bring to the boil and reduce until jus begins to coat the spoon. Add stock or water to thin if necessary and stir in a knob of butter for richness and shine.

Tip: Resist thickening the jus.

Now, thanks to Maggie Beer, here is a recipe for you that uses verjuice to deglaze.  It will be just right for the autumn.

Pheasant with grapes and verjuice

Ingredients (serve six)
3 young pheasants
1 lemon
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g chilled, unsalted butter
250 ml verjuice
250 ml chicken stock
2 handfuls of grapes


Step 1
Preheat the oven to 240C. Remove the second joint and wing tip from the pheasant and cut through the skin around the thigh to free the legs a little but do not remove them completely.

Step 2
Squeeze a little lemon juice into the cavity of each bird and season with the salt and pepper. Melt a little of the butter in a frying pan and brown the birds gently on all sides until golden brown

Step 3
Arrange the birds in a baking dish allowing the legs to spread.  Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn over, then cover and rest in a warm place for 15 minutes.

Step 4
Deglaze the baking dish with the verjuice and boil vigorously. Add the stock and cook until reduced by half, then beat in the remaining butter to finish the sauce.

Step 5
Less than a minute before serving add the grapes to the sauce. Carve the breasts and legs, pour over the sauce and serve immediately.

Charlie the Butcher