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

Wishing you a Happy Christmas

So the meat madness is nearly over for another year , just a few more days before we are finished up in South East London. I’ve been workimng day and night …

…. not quite in these sort of conditions !

This year I’m on my way to Exmouth. With a free-range turkey, a Mrs Kings Pork Pie and plenty of smoked salmon I’m sorted. Wishing you all a wicked Christmas.

Charlie the butcher

Cooking your turkey – there’s an app for that

OK …. the most regular question from both turkey virgins and old hands is …. “How long should I cook the turkey ?”.  Each family seems to have developed its own approach to the whole business.

It can be a very stressful time especially if you are hosting Christmas lunch for the first time and want to impress – but you don’t always need to get up in the middle of the night to kick the whole the process off.

You might like to look at this app that seems to be getting reasonable reviews ….   at just 69p it might be a life and reputation saver ….


The write up says ….

TurkeyTimer helps you take the guesswork out of Christmas and other holiday cooking. Enter the weight of your turkey, whether it’s stuffed, your desired internal temperature, and whether you plan to baste the turkey. Using algorithms based on top cookbook instructions, TurkeyTimer will track the approximate brownness of your turkey, the approximate internal temperature of your turkey, and about how long it will be until you can take the turkey out of the oven. This handy tool will even remind you when it’s time to baste the turkey!

FEATURES
– Know how soon your turkey will be ready
– Know your turkey’s internal temperature
– Track your turkey’s brownness
– Choose between a moister or a dryer turkey
– Know when it’s time to baste
– Always works, even if you send text messages or make or receive phone calls

With TurkeyTimer, you can be certain that your turkey will be perfect!

It’s a bit Americanised and I’m not sure though about defrosting times as I always say fresh is best – support your local butcher ….


Charlie the butcher

Stuffing for your turkey

It is often the trimmings that really make a Christmas lunch and I am frequently asked for advice on stuffing !!

I usually recommend people to look at my old mates at the Good Food Channel where I sometimes pop up.

Click here for some excellent stuffing ideas.

 

They also have some really great ideas for trimmings here.
Charlie the butcher

Its that goose time of year

Around this tme last year I was suggesting that you might want to think about having a goose instead of a turkey for your Christmas dinner. Have a peek here to see what I was on about.

It seems that many people are taking the idea more seriously with more people choosing a goose for Christmas – the age-old tradition, natural open-air lifestyle of the goose and succulent flavour are appealing qualities.

Families often choose a goose for the first time – and find that cooking is much easier than they’d realised. There’s also the bonus of goose fat, so cherished by top chefs, for perfect roast potatoes and parsnips.
The British Goose Producers have created a new recipe leaflet available from their producers, farm shops and butchers, or by contacting British Goose Producers.

A recent independent ADAS study on goose meat has found that the real fat content of goose meat today is much lower than the general figures quoted in the traditional nutritional textbooks. Aagain the British Goose Producers have published five helpful hints for cooking and serving goose.

For much more information from the British Goose Producers take a look here.

If all else fails you could follow Gordon Ramsey’s spicey goose recipe.


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