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National Butchers’ Week: 4th-10th March 2013 #Nationalbutchersweek

Meat or, more specifically, horsemeat, has certainly been dominating the headlines for the past few weeks with supermarkets and suppliers undergoing DNA testing of beef products such as burgers, cottage pie and lasagne. Of the major supermarkets, Morrison’s has escaped unscathed by scandal since they have their own UK farming operations.

We have commented in several posts about the importance of traceability and correct labelling (see our labelling course info for details). Where meat is concerned you can’t go far wrong with purchases from a local butcher. They buy from local farms and prepare the cuts themselves; they also make their own burgers, sausages, black puddings and pies. The meat is matured properly and you can rely on them to provide advice, information and tips on ways of cooking the meat to get the best results.

The horsemeat scandal has undoubtedly given a welcome boost to the high street or village butcher, but a further weapon in their arsenal is that this week is National Butchers’ Week.  Organised by the industry publication Meat Trades Journal, National Butchers’ Week celebrates the high street butcher’s creativity and passion.

It encourages local butchers to hold events such as sausage and burger-making workshops with the local community and promotes a career in butchery for men and women alike. Butchers are crying out for hardworking youngsters to take their craftsmanship into the next generation. As a result of hard times, consumers are looking to their local butcher for advice on the cheaper but tasty cuts of meat.

Verner Wheelock Associates works with butchers and meat processors large and small offering HACCP training as well as Food Safety and Auditing Skills. The company has strong links with the meat industry going back to a project over 10 years ago which aimed to ensure the licensing of butchers shops. Clients include ABP, Cranswick Country Foods, Dovecote Park, Dunbia, Holmesterne, Vion, Woodhead Bros as well as a number of local butchers.  VWA also works with the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders Association (SFMTA) to provide HACCP training to butchers from Orkney to Kirkcudbright and many places in between. Thanks to the expertise of consultant and trainer, Paul Bache MBE, VWA clients can benefit from a wealth of knowledge on HACCP and food safety, with particular reference to the meat industry

There is plenty of information about National Butchers’ Week on the website, www.nationalbutchersweek.co.uk including recipes for beef, pork, lamb and poultry.  Here’s a tasty example for a delicious slow cooked Hearty European Stew:

Hearty European Stew Recipe


450g/1lb lean beef stewing or braising cubes

Salt and freshly milled black pepper

10ml/2tsp caraway seeds (available at large supermarkets), lightly crushed

10ml/2tsp oil

2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped

30ml/2tbsp tomato purée

2.5ml/½tsp cayenne pepper

30ml/2tbsp ground paprika

1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes

600ml/1pint good, hot beef stock

¼ small red cabbage, finely shredded

15ml/1tbsp runny honey



Put the beef in a large bowl or plastic food bag and season with salt, pepper and caraway seeds.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan, Cook the beef in the pan for 2-3 minutes until brown. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes until soft. Transfer to a large heatproof casserole pot with a lid.

Add the tomato purée, cayenne pepper, paprika, tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer on the hob or in a preheated oven at Gas Mark 3, 170°C, 325°F for 1½-2 hours, stirring occasionally.

20 minutes before the end of the cooking time stir through the cabbage and honey and return to the hob or oven for the remainder of the cooking time.

Serve the stew with seasonal vegetables and cheesy mash.