In early 2013, I was asked to investigate, and write a highly current article at the height of the of the British meat scandal. Reporting for West Country Foodlover Magazine, I spoke to just a small fraction of the South West’s well established, and trustworthy meat suppliers on the hot topic of the British meat industry’s transparency and traceability.
After nearly a year since the meat scandal hit the press, and consumer controversy swept the nation, shoppers’ concerns of steadfast sourcing and product provenance seems to be quickly becoming a distant memory.
Just 12 months on, shoppers’ steady return to the large faceless retailers was a concern for many local butchers, who at the time of the scandal were reaping the benefits – deservedly. With both print and online media outlets heavily influencing our day to day concerns, what was the food scandal of the century has quickly become history. But surely this is the perfect time of year to rekindle our relationship with our faithful butchers, not only supporting them, but also local economies, well into the 2014 culinary calendar.
Some shoppers will always argue that supermarkets are a consumer’s cheapest and quickest option – in some circumstances this may be the truth. In a life with a jam-packed schedule, the supermarkets convenience and cost is often light relief for many people. However, convenience and price unnecessarily seems to take prominence, and quality and value for money, seems to sadly take a back seat.
Since moving to Somerset and swapping my supermarket meat for my local butcher’s premium product, the outcomes of my culinary creations have never been better. Not only is the quality of meat far superior – enhancing other ingredients and delivering on flavour – purchasing regularly from a local supplier ensures you avoid supermarket trickery, and BOGOFF offers that make you wastefully and unconsciously over spend. With smaller supply chains, and smaller suppliers, local butchers are often competitively priced, playing larger retailers at their own costly game – so no excuse with the post-Christmas pinch!
Building a rapport with your butcher is something that will benefit you financially, as well as providing you with an abundant source of culinary knowledge. This personal relationship, unachievable with a supermarket shelf, is something that should be harvested, allowing you, the consumer, to gain vital knowledge not only about your product’s provenance, but cooking and money saving ideas.
To celebrate our local butchers, and wish them every success in the New Year, my first recipe of 2014 is a West Country Beef and Mushroom Cider Stroganoff. This comforting recipe is perfect for fighting off all the bad weather January has offered, and laud our local butchers (mine being F J Scriven and Sons), suppliers and assiduous farmers, and thank them for our fantastic British beef!
- Dash of oil
- 1kg Chuck beef
- Bottle of dry cider (around 500ml)
- Up to 400ml Beef stock
- 500g Mushrooms
- 1 Large red onion
- 1 piece of garlic
- Large handful of parsley
- 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
- 1 tsp Nutmeg
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 2 tbsp Cream Cheese
- Salt and pepper
- In a large, heavy-bottom pan, heat a small amount of oil until hot. In batches, brown off the meat, adding a little more oil if it begins to stick. Ensure not to overload the pan as this reduces the heat and stews rather than browns the meat – set aside the browned meat.
- In the same pan, fry off sliced onion and diced garlic until soft. Add the cider and allow to cook-off for a couple of minutes. Return the meat to the pan when the cider bubbles at the side, along with the thickly sliced mushrooms.
- If the liquid does not cover the ingredients, simply top up with a little hot beef stock. Lowering the heat and allowing to simmer, cook the meat for 1 ½ to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
- 15 minutes before serving (perfect timing for cooking your accompanying rice, pasta or vegetables), add the additional ingredients – mustard, spices, seasoning, cream cheese and parsley (reserve a little parsley for serving) and stir. If the sauce remains a little thin, simply add a small amount of corn flour to thicken.
- Serve hot with an additional sprinkling of fresh parsley – and enjoy!