I’ve never been to a butchery demonstration before, sure I’ve watched Kill It, Cook It, Eat It on the television but I’ve never seen an animal butchered and cut ready for cooking.
There are plenty of butchers in the capital who have seized on the opportunity to show off their skill in various guises from the hands-on class to the demonstration. Jamie Oliver is no exception, his Barbacoa Butchery is where the meat for his upstairs restaurant in One New Change (near St Paul’s) is hung and prepared. So to make the most of the space and the rent, he also butchers and sells meat for the public. It’s also here that Marco, Zach and Adam make light work of a 170kg half Charolais Speyside cross. swinging by an industrial chain in their walk in fridge.
The shoulder was the first piece to be butchered and by using an array of knives and saws the rest of the carcass soon followed. The butchers read the cow like a seamstress reads a haute couture pattern, using the natural grooves to make their incisions, cutting in exactly the right place with no room for error.
As the cow became smaller Adam explained the cuts, and usefully one of Jamie’s former apprentice chefs, now running Barbacoa’s kitchen upstairs, suggested great ways of cooking them.
The sharp knives were laid down and we were offered some wine to taste. The Head Sommelier at the restaurant, Paul Green, explained that the wines we were about to taste were on sale in the butchery to compliment the meat that they sold. The first was a 2009 red from the vineyard of the Familia Pacheco, a Monastrell/Syrah from Jumilla in South East Spain, my favourite of the night. The second was ‘Paper Road’ a New Zealand 2010 Pinot Noir very light with hints of black cherry and mushroom leaving an earthy note on the palate. The last was Italian and was a 2009 Gaja Ca’Marcanda Promis a red from Tuscany. It was a beautiful light garnet colour and tasted of sweet blackberry and black cherry. Merlot, syrah and sangiovese grapes. Perfect for the rib-eye steak we’d been given in our goodie bags.
A couple of hours flew by and it was a real treat being so up close and personal watching these guys indulge in a skill passed from father to son, master to apprentice. I thought I had a good idea about cuts of meat, but now I feel far more educated for my next visit to the butchers. I now know that marbling is a good thing and that if I want a tasty rib-eye steak I’ll go for the steak cut from the rib-end.
Also in our goodie bags pork sausages (delicious and full-to-bursting) and some smoked bacon which crisped up a treat under a hot grill (dreaming of it now).
The butcher is on Watling Street, closest tube is St Paul’s and here’s the opening times.
We watched, but there’s a chance to get your hands dirty too. They assure me you get a steel glove too, so no days off for lost limbs!
Give them a call to find out about the classes 0203 375 5553