An excerpt from “River Cottage A to Z by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall”
“I’m convinced that the best tasting beef – and the beef that is best for us – is from the highest welfare herds. Generally that means traditionally bred and traditionally fed animals of established native herd breeds. These animals are well adapted to their enviroment and live outside for at least 8 months of the year (though not necessarily all year round, due to cattle’s propensity to churn up wet, muddy ground)….. But they thrive, for the most part, on pasture: good green grass in the summer, hay and silage in the winter.
In fact, a small proportion of the very best British beef is raised on pasture alone – a great boon since grass-fed animals, in comparison to their grain-fed counterparts, have been shown to produce meat with higher levels of many beneficial nutrients including omega – 3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid. If you are after beef from 100 per cent grass-fed cattle, the “Pasture for Life” label, a fairly new certification issued by the Pasture-Fed Livestock Association, will tell you that your beef was 100 per cent pasture-fed right up to slaughter.”
Hornton Grounds Farm’s Pasture-fed Aberdeen-Angus enjoying the spring weather.
Catherine & Graham are founder members of the Pasture Fed Livestock Association
Thinking of buying some pasture-fed meat and wondering what cuts to use…….
Which cuts do you cook in which way?
For Roasting use:
Saddle or Loin of Lamb, Rack of Lamb, Shoulder, Leg of Lamb. Breast of Lamb for slower roasting.
For Braising use:
Chump Chops, Shoulder, Loin or leg of Lamb.
For Grilling or Frying :
Loin Chops, cutlets, Chump Chops, Leg of Lamb Steaks.
For Boiling and Stewing :
Knuckle, Scrag end, Neck, Breast and Shank.
Lambs are usually fully grown and consumed in the year in which they are born. Lamb that passes the year old is of a stronger fuller flavour and is known as Mutton.
Although a lamb stands on four legs in culinary terms there are only two legs on a whole lamb !
The Shank near the knuckle on a leg is super for slow braised cooking.
Legs of Lamb are renowned for their quality when roasted but can be sliced to the equivalent of a steak or Chump Chop for speedier cooking.
The Loin of Lamb is excellent for roasting with either the bone in or out. The eye of the loin can be trimmed for Noisettes which need the lightest of cooking. The two loins from either side of the lamb still joined together are called a Saddle of lamb.
Best End or Rack of Lamb is often roasted but when trimmed of fat and chined to the bone and sliced are known as cutlets. Two racks of lamb deftly butchered form the impressive Crown Roast.
Breast of Lamb has quite a large percentage of fat but when boned and rolled and stuffed with herbs and bread crumbs and roasted long and slow is a most economical and flavoursome cut.
The Shoulder or front leg can be difficult to carve with the bone in but boned out and rolled or stuffed cooks very well just taking a little longer to cook than a leg of lamb roast but produces moist and flavoursome meat.
Neck and Scrag End form the basis of some great north country stews e.g. Lancashire Hot Pot. Cooked long and slow even on the bone is very tasty.
Minced lamb forms the basis for Moussaka and Shepherds pie but can be superb for burgers.
Lambs liver and kidneys are of good flavour and are readily sautéed.
A half lamb requires very little freezer space once jointed and packed filling one drawer of an average upright domestic freezer.
Cuts of Lamb
Thinking of buying some pasture-fed meat and wondering what cuts to use…
There are many cuts of beef and many have different regional names at the butchers depending upon the part of the country you live in.
Oxtail is normally cut between the articulations in the bone and needs very long slow cooking.
The meat from a leg of beef produces Shin beef which has wonderful slightly gelatinous tissues running through which when diced produces superb well flavoured moist stewed beef. Leg can be diced for casseroles or minced for slower cooking.
The leg bone or Marrow bone is not just for dogs – when boiled produces superb stock.
Thick Flank or Top Rump is excellent for braising, diced for casseroles or minced for burgers.
Silverside is a superb joint for slow roasting or for pot roasting.
Topside produces a very large joint frequently divided into three smaller joints. It roasts well if a little slower than Sirloin or rib. If the animal is lean it will benefit with added piece of fat or cooking in a lot of dripping.
Rump is the more economical cut for steak. It is made up of three distinct muscles and can be chewier as a steak when fried or grilled. Longer hanging of beef significantly improves Rumps. Rumps make a superb roasting joint which is easy to carve.
Sirloin is the whole joint from the lower middle of the animals back. The Fillet is the muscle found running under the sirloin.
Steaks may be sliced from the sirloin. A T Bone steak is a cross section slice from the sirloin on the bone with a piece of the fillet on one side of the bone and sirloin muscle on the other. Sirloins may be cooked on or off the bone as a supreme roasting joint or sliced as flavoursome tender steak which cooks quickly and is tender even when still pink.
Fillet is one of the smallest muscles and is little used in exercise and is exceptionally tender. It is the most expensive cut of beef.
Although very tender and quick cooking, it has less flavour than sirloin. A fillet can be cooked whole or sliced or prepared into medallions. Fillet of beef is the classic cut used for Beef Wellington.
Flank and Skirt provide excellent meat for casseroles and stews.
Fore Rib or Rib of beef has quite a lot of intramuscular fat which when cooked yields superb moist roasted meat. Well trimmed and sliced produces a Rib Eye Steak which is tender and flavoursome.
Neck or Clod produces excellent stew or minced beef.
Chuck steak comes from the shoulder and is excellent for braising or casseroles.
Brisket can be on the bone but more often is boned and rolled. Thrifty cooks use this for pot roasts although a lot of fat comes out during cooking and needs to be skimmed off. Brisket on the bone forms the basis for excellent soup.
Minced Beef – The quality depends entirely on which particular muscle has been used and how well the butcher has trimmed out the fat. For Burgers you really need mince from better cuts such as silverside or skirt which has been well trimmed. For Chilli or Lasagne slow cooking uses the cheaper cuts producing well tenderised meat.
Kidneys – beef kidneys are used mostly diced and mixed with cubed stewing meat to make Steak and Kidney Pie. Kidneys need to be well cooked to tenderise them.
Liver from beef animals is coarse in texture and quite strong in flavour but is excellent in Pates.
The hard fat deposited around the kidney makes excellent suet for xmas mincemeat or renders down to make superb dripping for roasting potatoes or chips.
Wild birds enjoy a piece hung out in winter on the bird table too !
For good stewing meat remove all the gristle but not all the fat as the fat adds moisture and flavour. Cut into 2.5 cm or 1 “ cubes or larger. Too small pieces are difficult to seal and may become dry and shred during cooking.
Which cuts to cook in which way ?
|Roasting||Grilling and Frying||Pot Roasting, Braising, And Stewing||Pies|
|Clod ( neck )||x|