Everyone has someone in their lives for whom it is difficult to buy presents. They seem to already have everything, and nothing gets your creative juices flowing.
I am not one of those people. If you get me something food-related, I will be a happy camper. But my excellent boyfriend went above and beyond the call of duty for my last birthday, and made me the most joyful of the all the outdoorswomen. He bought me a voucher for a butchery class at the Ginger Pig at their shop in Marylebone.
Best birthday present ever!
I won’t write a play-by-play description of the class because I think you should experience it for yourselves. But I will say that if you like to cook meat, and want a much better understanding of what quality and cut of meat to look for, this class is for you. I now know the difference between wet-aged and dry-aged beef, and the parts of the cow from which come sirloin, ribeyes, and fillet steaks.
Some highlights from the class:
- I just barely learned how to tie butcher’s knots! I never got my knot-tying badge during my short-lived period as a Girl Scout, and tying three knots took me about ten minutes of alternating tongue-sticking-out concentration with choice words questioning the knots’ intelligence, parentage, and sexual preferences.
- I also won a steak by lifting 35kg of beef and holding it out with my arms straight for four seconds. The prize-winning effort sounded like this:
- At the end of the class, my classmates and I were given an amazing dinner of rib roast, potatoes dauphinoise (AKA kiss your healthy-eating streak goodbye), salad, and chocolate-laced bread-and-butter pudding for dessert. Delicious, but definitely oof-inducing.
After the class, I toddled home with my steak and the standing rib roast I’d learned to prepare.
It made a fantastic dinner for a group of friends with blanched purple sprouting broccoli, T’s heavenly Yorkshire puddings, and carrot cake for dessert (of which more tomorrow!)
Joints of beef like this one exemplify the idea that the more money you spend on a cut, the less time and effort required to make it tasty. While stewing steak takes a long simmer in a flavourful braise to reach optimum deliciousness, all a standing rib roast needs is to be rubbed with a little neutral oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and after a quick sear, to be roasted for 15 minutes per kilogram, plus an extra 15 minutes at the end, in a 180C/350C oven.
My 2.5kg roast (which fed 5) took 90 minutes to cook. After roasting it, I wrapped it in foil and left it to rest for half an hour. You will be tempted by the delicious smell of hot roast meat to cut in right away, but if you do so, you’ll lose all the meat juices and get dry roast beef. Even if your meat is no longer piping-hot when you serve it, it’s worth it for its tenderness and juiciness.
You can find further information on Ginger Pig’s butchery classes on this website. They offer lamb, sausage-making, and pork courses too.