Beefing up our butchers

Crown of English spring lamb
Crown of English spring lamb
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The latest initiative from The Meat Crusade campaign sees the launch of a cookery book, aimed at getting more people back to their local butcher.

The book gives an insight into how ethical meat operations work and explains the links between farmer, butcher and consumer. It also shows consumers how to cook a range of forgotten cuts that are best bought from a butcher.

“These are no-frills recipes produced by farmers and taste-tested by the people working on our farm. We do not claim to be expert chefs: these are simple-to-prepare, tasty recipes that use easily-sourced ingredients and I hope it will drive consumers back to their local butcher,” says Yorkshire butcher John Penny, from The Meat Crusade.

“Reputable butchers have learned their craft over years of dedication to their industry but they are disappearing from our high street at an alarming rate. If we want to preserve our high streets for future generations we need to start shopping with them now.

“For decades our butchers have been competing with the domination of convenient one-stop shops, they pride themselves on selling traceable, ethically sourced meat and, with more consumers wanting to know where their meat has come from, I urge them to shop at their local butcher.”

Oxtail chilli

Serves: 4-6


3 kilos oxtail, trimmed

200g plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper

2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp cinnamon

6 tbsp beef dripping

1 large onion, chopped

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp Demerara sugar

4 tbsp Dijon mustard

4 tbsp cider vinegar

4 cloves of garlic, finely sliced

5cm sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely sliced

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp Tabasco

130g light brown sugar

4 tbsp tomato ketchup

4 tbsp cider vinegar

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 tin red kidney beans


Oxtails are a really tasty cheap cut and this recipe is an exciting alternative to your regular chilli con carne.By slow cooking this dish the meat falls off the bone beautifully.

Put the four and dry spices into a plastic bag and mix well. Add the oxtails and toss them in the seasoned flour.

In a large pan heat the beef dripping. Once it is liquid add the oxtails in batches and brown. Set the oxtails to one side and lower the heat. Now add the onions and fry until translucent.

Add the ginger and garlic and fry for one minute then add the oxtails and all the remaining ingredients except for the kidney beans.

Stir well and bring to a gentle simmer, leave the mixture to cook for two hours stirring occasionally. Then add the kidney beans and cook for a further 10 minutes. Serve with boiled rice and garlic bread.

Crown of English Spring Lamb

Serves: 4


2 x racks of lamb (best end), French trimmed

For the stuffing:

3 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

6 slices of white bread

2 eating apples, peeled, cored and chopped

1 orange, zest only

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 lemon, zest only

Bunch fresh parsley, chopped

1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 200° C/ 400° F/Gas mark 6.

For the stuffing, heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion and fry gently for five minutes, stirring occasionally until softened. Put the bread slices into a food processor and pulse them until they become fine breadcrumbs.

Sprinkle the cinnamon over the onion and cook for one minute. Scatter the apple pieces into the pan and add the orange and lemon zest. Stir together over a medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add all the herbs and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook for a further minute, remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Season the racks of lamb with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the racks onto a large, sturdy roasting tin with the eye of the meat at the bottom.

Spoon the stuffing into the centre of the ribs and cover the surface with roasting foil. Be sure to cover the ends of all the bones with foil to avoid burning.

Roast the crown for 45 minutes for pink and an extra 15 minutes if you prefer your lamb medium. Remove the foil five minutes before the end of the cooking time.

Remove the baking tin from the oven and carefully transfer the lamb and stuffing to a serving platter. Cover with foil and a tea towel. Set aside for 10-15 minutes.

Take the lamb to the table and cut through the bones to serve. Depending on the size of your racks, 2-3 chops should make one serving when accompanied by the fruity stuffing.

Cola Baked Ham

Serves: 4


2kg boneless gammon joint

1 large white onion

15 whole cloves

2 litres cola

2 tbsp English mustard

2 tbsp dark brown sugar


Some gammons need to be soaked overnight, just ask your butcher when buying your joint and they will be able to advise how to prepare your joint for cooking. If you do soak yours, make sure that you throw away all the salty water before commencing cooking.

Put your gammon into a large pot and cover with cola, a large two-litre bottle should cover your gammon but top it up with water if you cannot completely cover the meat.

Peel the brown layers away from the onion and push 5 of the cloves into the white flesh. Add this to the pan and put the lid on.

Bring the liquid slowly to the boil and then reduce to a simmer, leave the pan on the heat for 2 ½ hours.

Remove the gammon from the pan and thoroughly pat dry with kitchen paper. Throw away the onion and cooking liquor. Place the gammon on a baking tray covered with foil.

Pre-heat the oven to 240° C / 425° F / Gas mark 9 and remove the top layer of fat from the gammon and score the remaining fat to create a crisscross pattern. Place the remaining cloves into intersections of the fat.

Mix together the mustard and sugar and cover the fat with the mixture. Now place the gammon in the oven for approximately 10 minutes or until the fat becomes golden and sticky.

Let the meat rest for at least 15 minutes after you bring it out of the oven before slicing.

Fantastic hot with salad and pickles or served cold sliced in sandwiches.

The Meat Crusade Cookery Book costs £15 from