Friday, 29 March 2013

butchery for beginners...

Today I had the pleasure of attending a home butchery workshop at the new Hobbs House Cookery School taught by Fabulous Baker Brother Henry Herbert. The course was brilliant and it was great to attend at a time when I am really mindful of how our family are eating. 

I, like many others, buy my meat mainly from supermarkets pre-prepared in packets, occasionally I buy from the farmers' market or the local farm shop for Sunday roasts. This is for many reasons, convenience, cost, lack of confidence in knowing what to ask for in a butchers shop and I don't have a local butchers shop. Our food bills are really expensive, and the boys stomachs are like bottomless pits, constantly hungry and always hanging around the kitchen asking for food, driving me crazy. Since going back to work in January I feel quite out of control in terms of what the boys are eating and just how little time I have to spend on meal planning and preparation.

I'd have never entertained the thought of going on a home butchery course as I am the worst type of meat eater, one with a squeamish disposition! But I firmly believe that you should know the provenance of your meat and know how to use it all, making good use of all of the animal. Therefore what better way to learn than actually getting hands on?

 rocking the butchers outfit!

Upon arriving at the Cookery School situated in the charming market town of Chipping Sodbury, I was greeted by Tom Herbert, the other half of Channel 4's Fabulous Baker Brothers. After saying hello to the others on the course, we quickly changed into our butchers coats and aprons and were fueled with coffee and plum jam on toast.

The Cookery School bookshelf

Henry, is an excellent teacher, a chef-turned-butcher, he is passionate about the cuts of meat that have gone out of fashion and are often disregarded as waste. He guided us through knife use and sharpening, cutting a lamb breast and stuffing it with a wild garlic stuffing, cutting a chicken to make four meals (stuffed chicken legs, chicken kievs, chicken stock/soup and chicken wings) followed by sausage making. He shared with us chef tips, what to ask butchers for, which are the cheapest cuts of meat, recipes and information on where you can source things from.

learning to make sausages

The 'Herbert's' enthusiasm for their craft is infectious and soon us 'protégées' were stuffing sausages and tying butchers knots with string like we'd been doing it for years! Tom beavered away in the background, ensuring everything ran smoothly, providing coffee and spotify 'meat themed' playlists. The two of them worked together so well, like a foodie equivalent of Morecambe and Wise, telling funny stories (from their childhood escapades to plucked French chickens wearing jumpers) and making us hanger steaks on sour dough toast for lunch, it was like being in an episode of their TV show! We left with full bellies and a large bag of meat to take home and impress our families with.

a communal lunch of hanger steak with mushrooms on wilted watercress

The course was brilliant fun and has really given me the confidence and inspiration to shop more cost effectively and experiment with different cuts of meat. It's also made me want a Kitchen Aid with a sausage making attachment - the boys would love it!

Find out more about the courses run by Hobbs House Cookery School, from bread making with Tom, butchery with Henry and many other guest course leaders too, from knife skills to tea appreciation, visit workshops start from £75. The Fabulous Baker Brothers book Glorious British Grub is also out now. 

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