Category Archives: Meat History

Black Puddings

I’m not sure how this all links to the Royal Jubilee or this time of year – but I’ve heard that black pudding is one of the Queen’s favourites, and who can blame her !

Black pudding in the United Kingdom is generally made from pork blood and a relatively high proportion of oatmeal; in the past it was occasionally flavoured with pennyroyal mint, differing from continental European versions in its relatively limited range of ingredients and reliance on oatmeal and barley instead of onions to absorb the blood. It can be eaten uncooked, but is often grilled, fried or boiled in its skin.

In the United Kingdom, black pudding is considered a delicacy in the Black Country and the North West, especially in Lancashire, in particular the towns of Bury and Ramsbottom home of The World Black Pudding Throwing Championships, where it is sometimes boiled and served with malt vinegar out of paper wrapping.

Follow that van …..

Black puddings are also served sliced and fried or grilled as part of a traditional full breakfast throughout the UK; it is also served this way in Ireland, New Zealand, and the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. The further addition of the similar white pudding is an important feature of the traditional Northumbrian, Scottish, Irish and Newfoundland breakfast. British towns noted for their black pudding include Bury, Dudley and Ramsbottom.

Just click here for a splendid webiste devoted to black puddings. For a bit of black pudding history try here.

Spanish morcilla has many variants. The most well-known and widespread is morcilla de Burgos which contains mainly pork blood and fat, rice, onions, and salt. In Albacete and La Mancha, the morcilla is filled with onions instead of rice, which completely changes the texture.

My all time favourite

In Extremadura the creamy morcilla patatera includes roughly mashed potatoes. In the northern regions and the Canary Islands there is a sweet variety known as morcilla dulce. Other varieties introduce breadcrumbs, pine nuts, almonds and vary the proportions of the other ingredients or flavourings, some of them considered delicacies.

I’m not sure how many of you might be wanting to have a go at making your own black puddings but if you are try here or here for some ideas.

…. and for the very adventurous here’s someone else having a go …. a bit of theory first then on to the action …

Charlie the butcher

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National Butchers’ Week 2012

It’s that time of year when everyone should be celebrating butchers’ creativity and passion.

 

National Butchers’ Week was set up five years ago by leading business-to-business magazine Meat Trades Journal to promote the craft skills, knowledge and profile of retail butchers across the UK by leading a week of special focus and activities.

 

By headlining the week under the banner ‘Ask the Expert‘, and encouraging consumers to visit the  ‘Find a Butcher‘ website to locate their nearest first rate independent butcher, Meat Trades Journal uses the week to highlight the true expertise of the trained artisan butcher – many of whom have been at the heartland of their communities for decades.

 

From showcasing butchery as a craft-based, fast-paced retail career, to providing recipe lesson plans for schools to teach primary aged children all about the nutrition of meat using the fun of sausage and burger making, National Butchers’ Week seeks to engage with all ages.

Butchers all over the country will be running special events, activities and promotions to highlight the value for money that the shopper can find on their local high street as well as offering – as they do every day – their specialist knowledge and free advice on any aspect of meat cuts, the use of meat in recipes and cooking instructions

You can also gain special access to many of the butchers’ own special recipes .

Charlie the Butcher

Meat Vs Meat, Real Vs Unreal ?

The news has brought two meaty stories that seem to coming from different perspectives … you be the judge.

In one story from this week it is reported that the world’s first hamburger made with a synthetic meat protein derived from bovine stem cells will be publicly consumed this October after being prepared by a celebrity chef, according to the inventor of the artificial mince.

Mmmmm .... looking good

Heston Blumenthal is the favourite to be asked to cook the £207,000 hamburger, which will be made from 3,000 strips of synthetic meat protein grown in fermentation vats. Dr Mark Post, of Maastricht University in the Netherlands, said the anonymous backer of his research project had not yet decided who would get to eat the world’s most expensive hamburger, which will unveiled at a ceremony in Maastricht.

Dr Post told the American Association for the Advancement of Science that a hamburger made from artificial beef protein was a milestone in the development of novel ways to meet the global demand for meat, which is expected to double by 2050.

“In October we’re going to provide a ‘proof of concept’ showing that with in vitro culture methods that are pretty classical we can make a product out of stem cells that looks like, and hopefully taste like, meat,” Dr Post said.

“The target goal is to make a hamburger and for that we need to grow 3,000 pieces of this muscle and a couple of hundred pieces of fat tissue. As long as it’s a patty the size of a regular hamburger, I’m happy with it,” he said.

A handful of researchers has been working for the past six years on the technical problem of extracting stem cells from bovine muscle, culturing them in the laboratory and turning them into strips of muscle fibres that can be minced together with synthetic fat cells into an edible product.

The technical challenges have included giving the meat a pinkish colour and the right texture for cooking and eating, as well as ensuring that it feels and tastes like real meat.

Dr Post admitted to being nervous about the final result. “I am a little worried, but seeing and tasting is believing,” he said.

At the same time, in another story, a prize bull called Fabio has set a world record at auction. The pedigree Limousin was expected to fetch £40,000 at the cattle market in Carlisle, Cumbria but went for £126,000 beating the previuos record by £21,000.

Fabio

Glyn Vaughan who bred Fabio at his farm in Machynlleth, Powys, said “When it hit £80,000, I hoped it woud reach £100,00. I’m not sure I remember what happened after that. It was unreal.”

The winning bid by Alan Jenkinson of Penrith, set a world record for a Limousin and a British record for a Bull.

Agricultural experts say the new owner will quickly recoup the money for the 17 month old bull through breeding. Mr Vaughan said “He’s a big fellow but very docile.  I’m sorry to see him go, but delighted he made so much money.”

Charlie the butcher

Pork Scratchings – scratching a living

Recently, there seems to be a bit of a thing about Pork Scratchings.  Perhaps people are latching on to my own method for making them at home ?  My earlier recipe is here.

Mmmmm .... hint of caraway seed added

So a bit more information on the subject is required …..

  • Pork scratchings originated in the early 19th century, when the production of meat began to be industrialised. The term literally means the scraps from the slaughterhouse floor.
  • An estimated 20 million packs of pork scratchings are sold each year as bar snacks. The Black Country in the West Midlands is the epicentre of the industry.
  • There are 606 calories and 2.9g of salt per 100g of pork scratchings (Source: Mr Porky’s, sold in 20g packs).
  • Traditionally, scratchings are fried and made with the softer, relatively hairless skin with attached fat, behind the hock (back foot) of the pig; crackling is roasted or baked, and can be made from a wider portion of the pig.
  • Before cooking scratchings, hair must be singed off and the skin blanched in boiling water to open the pores. Some swear by this to optimise crackling levels when roasting pork at home.
  • International versions include pork rinds and cracklings in the USA, grillons or grattons in France, chicharrones in Central America and the Spanish Caribbean.
  • 99 per cent of scratchings sold in the UK are made with Danish pork. Before recent changes in legislation, this was not revealed on labels.
  • When fried, the skin of the scratching hardens. All UK brands carry a label warning that contents are suitable only for people with strong healthy teeth.

There are also a couple of excellent websites devoted to Pork Sratchings with more on the history, recipes, reviews etc …. click on the logos

Enjoy.

Charlie the butcher

Haggis time again

Yes, it is haggis time again. Last year around this time I gave you a bit of background history and some recipe and serving advice so have a little butchers here ….

This year has been a bit milder some we are hoping for a better supply from the highlands but it hasn’t always been that way ….

This once popular sport amongst the nobility and gentry of Britain and Europe reached its peak in the early 1920s with gentlemen converging on the stately homes of the North Yorkshire Moors from all around Europe during haggis hunting season.  Back in those days, when large haggis herds roamed the Moors in abundance, a hunt would last for several days, with literally dozens of haggis being shot (or hagged in hunting parlance) in just one session.

A good days work

A typical haggis hunting session would consist of the beaters, or haggillies to give them their correct name, taking their haggis hounds, an all but forgotten breed of specialised hunting dog, onto the Moors and herding the haggis towards the carefully positioned haggis hides.  In these hides the hunters would wait patiently until the traditional cry of ‘Hag Ho!’ went up from the chief hagilly, at which point they would take up their gun positions and attempt to hag as many of the small but elusive creatures as possible as they stampeded past.

A typical haggis hunting party

In the intervening years between then and now there have been several unconfirmed sightings of haggis around the Moors, but the sad truth is that the haggis were hunted out of existence on the Moors and are now confined to the Highlands of Scotland.

So we have to rely on haggis being rustled across the border …

Haggis smuggling (a reconstruction to protect the identity of the smugglers)

Following my posting last year about Burns Night especially the traditional address to the haggis you might want to take a butchers at this nostalgic clip

Charlie the butcher

Good listening

A great little show on BBC Radio London aired last week to coincide with the Meat Traders Journal “Best Butchers Shop 2012”. This is the award that I won last year for managing the best shop in the South of England. Ed, the editor of MTJ has done a great job plugging the trade, nice one mate and thanks also to Robert Elms. Click this link or cut and paste below.

http://www.meatinfo.co.uk/news/fullstory.php/aid/13424/__Audio:_London_butchers_the_focus_for_BBC_radio.html

Charlie the Butcher.

I would like Santa to bring me a Berkel bacon slicer

I don’t suppose my ideal Christmas present is on everyone’s list but I’ve always wanted a big bad boy bacon slicer and the Berkel is tops.

Perfect, but how to gift wrap it ?

Wilhelm van Berkel, was born in Holland on 5 February 1869, son of a pub owner and brother of a butcher. He was the inventor of a cutting machine with a movable meat table. This way meat products could be cut neatly and regularly Up until that time butchers were kept busy slicing with 16-inch long carving knives.

Van Berkel had worked his way up from a butcher’s boy to become the owner of three successful shops. Then he began the deliberate search for a winning way to slice sausages and other meats mechanically.

This quest took years, often working through the night, ruining costly pieces of meat and starting many times over. During his search he saw the attempts of others who had devised mechanisms for slicing meat. No matter how ingenious these were – with spiral or elliptical knives – they could not be put to any practical purpose at all.

Van Berkel’s search was eventually rewarded. His find was the concave knife and an upper table sliding automatically towards the blade. He succeeded in constructing a prototype which more than proved its worth in his own pork shop.

He realised at once the far-reaching possibilities of his invention. He applied for a patent and immediately began to consider ways of mass producing his slicing machine.

This invention was set to revolutionise the butcher’s trade, where quality of cut and the speed of the slicer were very important.

By 1898, Van Berkel has started production at factories based in Rotterdam, and soon slicers were in demand all over Europe. Master butchers simply could not believe that hand-sliced meat or sausage could be matched or even excelled by a machine !

With his experience in the trade, Van Berkel confidently took to the road to win over all the butchers. He skillfully demonstrated the results that could be achieved with the slicer, and reassured butchers they would be fully employed coping with the increased business generated.

Van Berkel’s foresight and commercial spirit quickly led him to foreign markets. Berkel Ltd was established in London in 1908 and was manufacturing slicers in England for a period after the first World War. In America, Berkel started manufacturing as the U.S. Slicing Machine Co. Inc. in 1909. By 1915, the company had outgrown its facilities in Chicago and moved on to La Porte, Indiana.

Now part of Avery Berkel, slicers and food processing equipment are still sold under the Berkel brand throughout its companies and distribution network.

Van Berkel’s Patent Model A was the first commercially produced slicing machine to come out of the Rotterdam factory in 1898. This somewhat clumsy looking machine is today a museum piece. A hundred years ago it revolutionised the butcher’s trade across Europe, though it was anything but cheap to buy. The price was often more than the total value of the inventory of many a butcher’s business.

After the 1st  World War Van Berkel also started with the production of balances and related products for the butcher and the Food Industry. Sale offices and factories were built in several  countries, in the United States under the name Slicing machine Co. Inc. and in United Kingdom under the name of Berkel Ltd.

Here’s a clip in which Emilio Mitidieri discusses and demos one of his antique Berkel meat slicers on The History Channel’s “Modern Marvels: Cold Cuts”, from his showroom in San Francisco’s Mission district.


There’s also a super-cool animation here demonstrating how a Berkel works !

Charlie the Butcher