This year I turned 35. As such, I thought that I deserved a proper grown up present so I bought myself a beef butchery course – you all know how much I enjoy my meat! I had noticed on a website called Edible Experiences that a butchers shop I was familiar with was offering courses. In fact, the offer 5 different courses; beef, pork, lamb, sausage and a beef tasting course.
The one that drew my interest the most was the beef course. Reading it, I saw that you get to assist with breaking down a hind quarter of a carcass, prepare different cuts, learn different techniques and about the origins of the carcass and then take some home. How could i say no?
The shop in question is called The Butchery. A fantastic artisan butchers based in 2 locations; Bermondsey and Forest Hill. They also pop up at Brockley Market on a Saturday, which is where I first discovered them. They pride themselves in being a whole carcass butchery, “butchering ‘nose to tail’ in the traditonal manner” and showing full respect to the animals. The Butchery has been in business for around 6 years and is run by an amazing guy called Nathan Mills, or Nath: an Aussie with butchery in his blood. He is super friendly and knowledgeable; a real people person.
I arrived on the day at the production unit in Bermondsey where the course was taking place. Nath came over and introduced himself (unsurprisingly he has a firm handshake) and I sat with the others and waiting for the remaining few to arrive. Nath keeps the courses small, to a maximum of 9 participants, which allows everyone to get a good experience and be able to take plenty of meat home! One of Nath’s butchers, Scott, was there with him teaching us the techniques and showing us what we should be doing.
When everyone had arrived, we all got our tunics, aprons and gloves on. It was to be a messy day, fat gets everywhere when it’s warm.
I could tell you every little thing that we did but I don’t want to spoil it! I will say that I particularly enjoyed learning about portioning up the steaks such as these lovely T Bone.
I arrived in Bermondsey at about 1pm and didn’t leave until 8pm. It was a long day for all of us. I had so much fun breaking down the hind quarter with a couple of the other participants (3 to a hind quarter). It was mentally and physically challenging for someone who usually sits at a desk all day at work. I can see how butchers become so strong.
You can see here we got a lot from the hind quarter. All of this was split between the 3 of us! 2 of whom live in the same house!
This is a picture of the meat I took home just before I filled the freezer with it. All in all, including the bones I took for stock, weighed in at over 12KG.
End of the Day
After the course, we all sat down at the long table and shared a huge pot of chicken stew. The stew had been prepared by another of Nath’s butchers who used to be a chef. Along with the stew we had bread from Little Bread Pedlar and beers from The Kernel Brewery which are all on the same row of railway arches.
I truly cannot recommend this course enough. It was a very rewarding day; both intellectually and gastronomically. If the other courses that Nath does are anything like the beef one, I’m sure to want to do them all. Bash the Beef, Break the Beef costs £190 (although the other courses on offer are cheaper) but just think about what you come away with:
- over 10KG of beautifully aged and lovingly reared Dexter beef
- new found respect for the beef cattle
- increased respect for the work of independent butchers and producers
- knowledge that you can take home with you
- the desire to learn more
This is something that is going to stay with me through my lifetime. Thank you to Nath and Scott for such a fantastic day.