Thursday, 20 February 2014

Learn the Lamb, Love the Lamb: Butchery Course

My finished cuts
On Sunday I finally used the gift voucher that I was given for my birthday last and attended a butchery class courtesy of the The Butchery, who have a stall at Brockley Market.

They run pork, lamb and beef courses, but having seen a lamb being butchered at the Eat Drink Blog conference two years ago, I knew that I wanted to further my knowledge of lamb. So I signed up for the Learn the Lamb, Love the Lamb course.

The course lasted close to five hours with Nathan patiently taking us through how to butcher a hogget (it's the wrong time of year for lamb). The class started with an introduction to the tools we'd need (just two different knives and a bone saw) and to the animal itself.

Classes are limited to just six students. We were divided into pairs and given a carcass each to practise on. Nathan started with showing us how to take the legs off and then paused for us to all give it a go, before proceeding onto the next cut in step by step stages.
The starting point
Nathan explained everything very clearly and it was easy to follow his instructions, but I'd be lying if I said I thought I'd be able to do it again on my own! Although all of the butchery steps were explained really well I would have liked a few more tips on the best way to cook each of the cuts we were creating.

I was pleasantly surprised at how little of the animal was wasted. We had to discard a few bones and some pure fat, but virtually everything else was turned into cuts that we could take home. Across four carcasses we only produced enough offcuts for 2/3kg of mince. I don't know why, but I'd imagined there would be more offcuts than there were.

During the afternoon I learnt that Nathan is an Aussie coming from northern New South Wales. There was quite a lot of conversation about the different styles of butchery between Australia and the UK, where The Butchery source their animals, how they age their meat and how cuts move in and out of favour during the year. It was good to know we were in the hands of someone who cares about the provenance of the animals they butcher and uses the whole animal.
Keeping our cuts refrigerated during the class
The afternoon ended with us all sitting round the table tucking into a hearty chicken stew. Apparently they avoid lamb in case we are sick of the sight of it by then!

As part of the class you take home the half lamb that you've butchered during the afternoon. I was pretty pleased with what I managed to achieve. In the top photo you can see the leg, a rolled and stuffed breast of lamb, the chops, a rack of lamb, the fillet and finally the shoulder.

It was a really enjoyable afternoon and I'm looking forward to cooking all of the cuts I took home with me. I've already had a couple of the chops and they were excellent.

Although I really enjoyed the afternoon there were a few things I would change:
- It was quite tough to actually use the gift voucher I was given due to the frequency of the courses and the speed at which they book out. At times I thought it was a bit cheeky to sell gift vouchers when it was so tough to get onto a class. Speaking with Nathan I understand Sunday's are the only time classes are possible and he likes to keep them small, but it was still a bit frustrating.

- There is lots of useful information on the website but the booking and reminder emails are outsourced to Edible Experiences who don't send you any of that information or link to the website. It would be quite easy to miss some of the tips about eating down your freezer, wearing closed toe shoes and bringing a bag to take all your goodies home.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you enjoyed the class, Richard. And thank you for your feedback. We'll with with Nathan and Ruth to include their class prep tips in their Edible Experiences booking confirmation and reminder emails.

    Founder, Edible Experiences