New school strips butchery to the bones
A new Norfolk venture kicked off at the weekend as the county's first public butchery school opened its doors….Most people explore their adventurous side when it comes to meat through conversations with their local butcher, courtesy of a favourite restaurant or through authors such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Ray Mears.
A new Norfolk venture kicked off at the weekend as the county's first public butchery school opened its doors….
Most people explore their adventurous side when it comes to meat through conversations with their local butcher, courtesy of a favourite restaurant or through authors such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Ray Mears.
There is now another way, involving a hands-on, up-close and personal meeting with meat in its rawest form.
Launched by established Thetford and East Harling butchery family FL Edge and Son at the weekend, this is a course for amateurs and for those with a little more than amateurish knowledge of butchery.
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Further courses will take students to an advanced level.
The first notable aspect of the course was the variety of people attending: a deer management expert used to butchering wild deer, a local businessman with some experience of amateur butchery, a smallholder wanting to expand his knowledge base and a keen home cook wanting to understand more about cuts of meat - all men, as it happens, although there has been interest expressed by women.
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The necessary but boring bit first - classroom-based health and safety information, some basic aspects of butchery and a simple understanding of grading of carcasses. Nothing too much to take in, but a useful grounding for what was to come.
Safety kit, including a chainmail glove and apron, was donned, along with hair nets, hats and paper aprons for hygiene. The use of chainmail raised some eyebrows, but the benefits were appreciated at the end of the day once we left with all fingers and toes intact.
Tutor Jonathan Edge, who is also managing director of Edges, took us down to the cutting area where we were each presented with a dressed carcase of lamb, headless, footless, skinned and eviscerated, apart from the kidneys.
For those concerned about gore levels, there was hardly any blood at all and not one of the half-dozen students batted an eyelid at any stage of proceedings. This may not be the case for everyone, but it was certainly less grim than perhaps I had expected.
The next three hours, split by lunch, were spent cutting, sawing, deboning, trimming and learning the necessary techniques to produce a saleable product.
With each student holding a different level of experience and wanting to take away a slightly different experience from the day, one of Jonathan's many strong points was a patience and understanding of his class.
Each of us was given the chance to create slightly different cuts and left to carry on at our own pace.
So who would this course suit? As a meat buyer, it taught me a great deal about types of cut and reinforced my belief about the benefits of buying meat from butchers rather than supermarkets.
But it would certainly benefit those in the catering trade, people wanting to become butchers but who want a gentle introduction before committing themselves, and smallholders who want to take more control of their product.
An end-of-session feedback questionnaire attracted very high praise for an informal but professional day. And all were appreciative that they could fill in said questionnaire using a full complement of digits.
For details, contact the FL Edge and Son butchery school on 01953 717203 or see www.butcheryschool. co.uk. Course costs start at £85.