Category Archives: Lamb Cuts

The lamb cut

Barnsley chop history

As I trained in Leeds to be a butcher and my dad being from Leeds, I have a soft spot for Yorkshire. It’s a great county which offers great meat due to its lush pasture and rolling moors.
But it is home to many great foods like the forced Yorkshire rhubarb, parkin cake, Wensleydale cheese and the famous Barnsley Chop …. and it is the Barnsley Chop which you can guess I’m particularly interested in.
It is a unique cut taken across the loin of lamb giving you a double lamb loin chop. Having traveled around a little and visited many butchers shops, the Barnsley chop is a rare cut and never seen in supermarkets – this gives it that special place in the butchers window and it’s a cut I’m always pleased to see and it brings a smile to my face.
But the history of the cut is a little grey. I’ve found a couple of stories with one being that a chef at the Brooklands Hotel in Barnsley first served the chop and does still serve it to this day as the “House Special”. So if you are ever peckish on the M1 motorway pop in, it’s on my list of things to do next time I visit Elland Road.
But my friend Matthew Fort did some research on the matter in the later part of last year and did mange to find this gold piece of information about the chop and it reads.

Quoting the Ferret of the Barnsley Chronicle, wrote, “The dish is thought to have originated at the King’s Head Hotel on Market Hill in 1849. On market day, farmers were served a ‘very large chop’ known as the Barnsley chop. When Barnsley Town Hall was opened in 1933, the then Prince of Wales and other guests were served Barnsley chops. The weight of each chop was 1lb 6oz, and just two chops came from each animal. A civic review in 1949 said the chop comprised the first three ribs after the shoulder, and only two such chops can be  obtained from a sheep. It was then dressed and hung for about 10 days, before being cooked by a special process to ensure tenderness. It’s usually served with chips and Barnsley-brewed beer.”

So there we have it the history of my favourite Barnsley Chop. Ask your local butcher and spread the love of the “Barnsley Chop”.

Charlie the Butcher.


Spring lamb

With Easter around the corner and chocolate eggs filling the shelves of shops it is time to explain the traditional “spring lamb” story. Easter brings the first of the highly prized spring lamb in Britain. It’s a huge part of the meat calendar each year with dead weight prices rocketing up.

I get excited about it, as it brings tender meat with clean white fat meaning tasty and tender cuts. The flavour and texture can range a little based on a number of factors such as the  breed, quality of the pasture and age at slaughter. The term lamb is used for either sex born and sold within the first year of its life and which wouldn’t yet have developed its full set of teeth. But spring lamb is usually 3-5 months old having been born around September to December and has just finished weaning from its mother, hence the pale meat colour.

It does carry a mild flavour compared to hogget (over a year old) and is best cooked rare to let its mild flavour shine.

If the mild flavour of spring lamb is not your cup of tea the price of hogget drops at Easter. Hogget carries more fat and is bursting with lamby flavour as it has a lived a life on open pasture for most of its life and it is a cheaper option.

After all you can’t beat a shoulder cooked slowly with rosemary, garlic and anchovy. But please support your local butcher as only 18% of the lamb eaten in the UK is purchased from butchers’ shops.

If you need a reminder about lamb cuts go to the CUTS section on the front page or just click here for a full page version of the lamb cuts diagram.

It is a busy period in the butchers’ calendar and let’s all get together and buy from your local butcher ….  and after all they will give you the best advice about and knowledge of their products.

Charlie the Butcher.

Goat meat

Goat – Any of numerous agile, hollow-horned ruminants of the genus Capra, of the family Bovidae, closely related to the sheep, found native in rocky and mountainous regions of the Old World, and widely distributed in domesticated varieties.

Most butchers up and down the country will sell the usual beef, pork, lamb and poultry. A little game if you are lucky. But goat ……… ?

I was talking to a friend the other day over a beer about my travels in Melbourne. I then remembered the amazing curried goat I’d had there. This got me thinking about goat.

I’ve butchered goat a couple of times and it always flies off the block. It’s becoming a popular meat in the London restaurant scene with my favourite restaurant Magdalen using it and it is also not unheard of at St John’s. I’ve done my research about goat and it is believed to make up 80% of the total meat consumption in the world. Well, they are the oldest domesticated species, and can be used for meat, diary (cheese, milk and butter) and wool. A great dual purpose animal. Its flavour, carcase size and shape is commonly compared to lamb and mutton.

I find the flavour full and strong and dark in colour. It’s cheap and makes a wicked curry or stew. It was not easy to track down, I racked my food head and decided to head down to Deptford High Street as it has a wicked range of Caribbean/Asian butchers, fishmongers and veg shops. I picked up my diced leg on the bone from Lobo Butchers in Deptford High Street, London. It cost me £5.25 a kilo, bargain of the week.

So then it was back home and recipe testing a decent curried goat dish. I wanted to make it with common ingredients available in decent food shops and easy way to make, so I came up with this bad boy curry.


  • Cumin seeds
  • Fenugreek seeds
  • Ground nutmeg
  • Ground coriander
  • Cardamon pods
  • Ground ginger
  • Ground cinnamon
  • 1kg diced goat
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tomatoes chopped
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 diced sweet potato
  • 1 small egg plant
  • Corriander leaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 scotch bonnet chillies
  • Water

Serves 3 – 4.

Step 1
Get all the ingredients togther. I used 1 teaspoon of each of the spices. Dry fry the cumin seeds and then put all of the spices in a bowl.

Step 2
Season the goat, add the lime juice and half of the spice mix. Leave in the fridge all day.

Step 3
Heat some oil in a pan and brown the goat off.

Step 4
Put all of the browned goat into a curry pot and add all the other ingredients and cover with water.

Step 5
Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for 2 hours. Keep a close eye on the pot, more water might be needed.

Step 6
Serve with some rice and enjoy.

Charlie the Butcher.

Meat cuts

There are loads of different cuts on animals and it can often get confusing. I’m often asked “where is that cut from ?” and  …. “I had this cut in France but never see it in England ?”.

Well I thought it would be helpful to try to answer these questions and explain different cuts and where they come from.

Firstly I have searched for the clearest drawings that I could find.  I don’t think there is a copyright issue with them  but if there is make the most of them quickly before they are minced.

So here is a side of beef …..

Just click on the picture or click here for the full page version.

…. and here is a side of pork ….

Just click on the picture or click here for the full page version.

…. and finally a lamb carcase

Just click on the picture or click here for the full page version.

So now hopefully you will know the difference between a shank and a tenderloin.

Charlie the Butcher.

Haggis – now and then

Burns Night is drawing closer – Monday 25th January – so I thought a bit of haggis research was needed.

This Sunday will be my only day off available to go on my traditional haggis shoot. Last year we had a bumper haul but the recent snow may have caused problems and they may still be hiding away in their burrows.

The origins are thought to be Scottish but there seems to be a lack of historical evidence that points to its origin in any one place or nation.

A haggis can and should be enjoyed at any time, but on Burns Night it is particularly celebrated. Traditionally, there is a ritual address to the haggis, where it is paraded into the room, escorted by a bagpiper and by someone waving two bottles of whiskey. The ‘Ode To The Haggis’ (Robert Burns) is recited and the haggis is stabbed at a precise moment in the poem. There is then a toast before the haggis is eaten.

Piping in the haggis

The first recorded haggis recipes.

The first known English cookery book is “The Form Of Cury” , written in 1390 by one of the cooks to King Richard II. It contains a recipe for a dish called Afronchemoyle, which is in effect a haggis:

“Nym Eyren with al the wyte myse bred scheps talwe, get as dyse grynd pepr safron  caste thereto do hit in the schepys  trype. Set it wel, dress it forth.”

In other words: take eggs, with the white and the yolk together, and mix with white breadcrumbs and finely diced sheep’s fat. Season with pepper and saffron. Stuff a sheep’s tripe with the mixture, sewing securely. Steam or boil and drain before serving. The saffron would give the mixture a golden colour, while the swelling bread would give a firm forcemeat.

The first know  written recipe for dish called ‘hagese’ is in the verse cookbook “Libre Cure Cocorum” dating from around 1430 in Lancashire.

“For hagese be hert of schepe, be nere bou take, bo bowel nought bou shall forsake. On be turbilen made, and boyled wele, hacke alle togeder with gode persole.”

The Scottish poem “Flying Of Dunbar And Kennedy”, which is dated before 1520 refers to “haggeis”.

According to the historian Catherine Brown, a haggis recipe was published in an English book, called The English Hus-Wife, by Gervase Markham, published in 1615, almost 200 years before any evidence of the dish in Scotland. This would pre-date Robert Burns’ poem “To a Haggis”, which brought fame to the delicacy, by at least 171 years.

Another old recipe for haggis is taken from is taken from the book by Hannah Woolley (1622-1675) printed at the White Lion in Duck-Lane, near West-Smithfield, London in 1672 entitled: “The Queen-like closet or rich cabinet scored with all manner of rare receipts for preserving, candying and cookery”

“To make a Haggis Pudding. Take a Calves Chaldron well scowred, boiled, and the Kernels taken out, mince it small, then take four or five Eggs, and half the Whites, some thick Cream, grated bread, Rosewater and Sugar, and a little Salt, Currans and Spice, and some sweet herbs chopped small, then put in some Marrow or Suet finely shred, so fill the Guts, and boil them.”

These early recipes were written in totally different way to today’s recipe book. There were no lists of ingredients – these were included as part of the text; food and ingredient measurements were basic – quantities were not often stated; temperature control was difficult and therefore not stated; cooking times were vague – and left to the cook to decide.

Coming more to the present day, here are some more takes on haggis recipes.

Traditional haggis recipe


  • 1 sheep’s stomach bag
  • 1 sheep’s pluck – liver, lungs and heart
  • 3 onions
  • 250g beef suet
  • 150g oatmeal
  • salt and black pepper
  • a pinch of cayenne
  • 150mls of stock/gravy

Step 1
Clean the stomach bag thoroughly and soak overnight. In the morning turn it inside out.

Step 2
Wash the pluck and boil for 1.5 hours, ensuring the windpipe hangs over the pot allowing drainage of the impurities.

Step 3
Mince the heart and lungs and grate half the liver.

Step 4
Chop up the onions and suet.

Step 5
Warm the oatmeal in the oven.

Step 6
Mix all the above together and season with the salt and pepper. Then add the cayenne.

Step 7
Pour over enough of the pluck boiled water to make the mixture watery.

Step 8
Fill the bag with the mixture until it’s half full.

Step 9
Press out the air and sew the bag up.

Step 10
Boil for 3 hours (you may need to prick the bag with a wee needle if it looks like blowing up !) without the lid on.

Step 11
Serve with neeps and tatties.

An easier haggis recipe


  • 2 lamb kidneys
  • 350g lamb shoulder
  • 125g beef suet
  • 250g beef liver
  • 1 cup of oatmeal
  • 1 cup of stock (tastier if you reserve this from when you boil the meat)
  • 2 pureed onions
  • salt and pepper

and some optional ingredients :

  • dried coriander (teaspoon)
  • nutmeg (teaspoon)
  • cinnamon (teaspoon)

Step 1
Boil the meat for about an hour and allow to cool. Then chop the meat into wee pieces but grate the liver.

Step 2
Toast the oatmeal in the oven in a shallow dish and shake occasionally.

Step 3
Mix all the ingredients together.

Step 4
Pop into a well greased glass bowl and cover with several layers of foil and steam in a pan of boiling water for two hours.

Step 5
Serve with neeps and tatties.

However, if you just want to buy one, I think that there are none better than the Macsween Haggis.

Mmmm .... a Macsween haggis cooked to perfection

Charlie the Butcher.

Lancashire hot pot

Lancashire Hot Pot

With the cold and dark nights happening on this side of the globe, my food thoughts often turn to slow, long and warming meat dishes. I love slow cooking, as it’s easy and always enjoyable. This week’s slow cooking dish was the classic Lancashire Hot Pot. A dish from Lancashire, which is in the north of England. After my usual research all information about its origins is a little sketchy but it is from the industrialisation days when Lancashire was famous for steel, wool and coal. It was and is a cheap, easy and wholesome dish, so would tick all the boxes to keep the Lancastrians going. Here is my recipe with a little Charlie the Butcher twist. Served me 3 meals, so ideal for 2 not so greedy normal people.


  • 1 whole neck of lamb into chops, mutton is better if you can get hold of it
  • 4 large potatoes
  • 2 onions
  • Thyme
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Water
  • Bone marrow
  • Butter

Step 1
Collect your meat from your butcher, one whole neck of lamb and a marrow bone. You may need to reserve the marrow bone. With a smile on your face ask your butcher to cut each end off the bone.

Step 2
Ask your butcher very nicely to chop it up into nice thick chops.

Step 3
Neck chops, chopped.

Step 4
Get home and turn the oven up to 150.

Step 5
Heat the butter in the frying pan, season the meat and brown.

Step 6
Take the browned chops out and add the onions and a little more butter.

Step 7
Slice the potatoes and get a casserole dish with a close-fitting lid at the ready, layer the meat, pots and onions in the dish, seasoning all as you go and adding a little thyme.

Step 8
Now take the marrow bone and with a knife take out the marrow.

Step 9
Add the marrow to the pot, and then put the water up to the middle of the dish.

Step 10
Put the final layer of pots over the top and over lap them.

Step 11
Put the lid on and cook for 1.5 hours.

Step 12
Take the lid off and butter the pots and finish off for 30 mins to get the crispy top.

Step 13
Serve with a little cabbage, enjoy one of the great British classic winter meals.

The marrow adds just adds a little more depth to the dish which I think brings it together. Neck of lamb is a wicked cheap cut and available in good butchers shops. It’s also lovely boned out and called “neck fillet”,  great for curry, stews etc …… it can also be cooked quickly and served rare when fried, grilled or even on that barbie. Enjoy.

Charlie the Butcher.


A good breakfast is the key to a good day in my book and on my days off I like to go that extra mile. This simple, quick and lovely breakfast is a favorite of mine. It has 3 key ingredients lambs kidney, dry cured back bacon and black pudding all on thick hand sliced white toast.


  • 2 Lambs Kidneys cut in half and core removed
  • 4 Rashers of dry cured free range or organic bacon
  • 2 Slices of the best black pudding you can get, try the classic Bury Black Pudding
  • Butter
  • Decent white bread
  • Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce

Serves 2.

Step 1

Get all the food ready.

IMGP0090Step 2

Warm two frying pans up, one for the kidneys and one for the black pudding and bacon.

Step 3

Add the kidneys and fry with the help of the perrins for a minute.

Step 4

Add the black pudding and bacon to the other pan.

Step 5

Cook for 4 minutes until the bacon is coloured and crispy and the black pudding is shinning.

Step 6

Start the toast.

Step 7

Put all goodies on the buttered toast with a twist of pepper and enjoy.


Charlie the Butcher.