Great British Beef Week | Rose House Butchery
As soon as we decided to celebrate Great British Beef Week, we knew exactly who we wanted to give us some expert advice on the delicious red meat…The Saints’ very own Artisan Butcher, Jamie Willows – owner of Rose House Butchery in St Peter’s Street.
We only use rare and native breeds at the Butchery, which tend to be a bit smaller. They take longer to mature – around 30 months – whereas commercially bred cattle are produced fast and grown in 12-18 months. My cows average at 4-10 years old, they’ve had a good life, and it’s a better quality of meat.
It’s also about the hanging: people talk about ’28 days matured’, but you have to be careful that it’s actually dry hung – a lot of the time it’s killed, cut and packaged in its own juices for that time. Mine is dry hung, which means it loses all its moisture, and the taste is much more intense. As a general rule; the drier it looks before you cook it, the juicier the finished result will be. I’m always told that my beef actually tastes like beef!
You’ll find there tend to be ‘fashionable’ cuts at the moment: your bavette, your onglet steak – we’ve been selling it for years as skirt! In terms of cuts of meat, every animal has the same muscle structure; just slightly bigger or smaller. Any muscle that gets worked a lot will build up collagen, so anything towards the front or back will have a lot of collagen and be tough, but if you cook it ‘low and slow’ this collagen melts into the meat and that’s where you get your flavour from. The fillet, for example, sits on the inside of the spine and barely gets worked, that’s why it’s so tender. But it can lack in flavour. I prefer cooking low and slow on a lot of things, because you can just forget about it – chuck it in and leave it, and you get all the flavour.
That’s why people come to the butcher as well: you can get information on different cuts of meat, so you can start to use the cheaper cuts too. They definitely don’t lack in flavour, and we have to start using all of the animal otherwise it gets wasted and the process is not sustainable.
I love a featherblade – it comes from the shoulder, which is where you also get flat iron steak – or ‘butler’s steak’ or ‘butcher’s steak’ as it used to be called, because it was the cheaper cut that the butcher used to take home!
Marbling is muscular fat, but you also need to look at a good bit of fat on the outside. You’ve got all these different beefs – wagyu, kobe beef etc – the original ones were spot on, but now there are a lot of cross-breeds, and now you see a ‘wagyu burger’ and think “what’s the point?! Just put some beef mince and fat together!” It’s a lot of BS that floats about!
I love ossobuco – shin or leg of beef, cut cross section so there’s a big bit of marrow going through it – do that low and slow, and you get all the marrow coming out from the bone, it’s amazing. Steaks are good too, but I rarely eat them! If I did have a steak though, it would be a ribeye. Oxtail is awesome too! It used to be a cheap cut, but chefs got hold of it and now it’s expensive! If you make a normal stew, you only need one lump of oxtail in there and it really thickens the stew and adds flavour.