Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

FOOD: Don't Blame Bad Meal on Poor-Quality Meat

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

FOOD: Don't Blame Bad Meal on Poor-Quality Meat

Article excerpt

THERE'S no such thing as poor meat, just poor cooking, a butcher said to me the other day. While it's patently obvious that this is rubbish, I think I can see what motivated him to say it. He's a good butcher and knows exactly where his meat comes from.

If he doesn't farm it himself, he gets it from farms he knows. So I can understand him being rather upset when one of his customers returns to him to say the meat was tough or, as he described, poor.

He believes that none of the meat he serves should make anything other than superb eating - unless it's not treated properly.

There's no doubt the final dish is somewhat dependent on the basic ingredients. If you want good fish dishes, your fish must be as fresh as possible; you can't do as well with dried herbs as you can with fresh; well-hung beef beats the socks off the flabby red stuff you see too often in supermarkets, and so on. But too often people use the quality of the base product as an excuse for poor results and think the only good meat is tender meat, despite it only having been slapped under the grill for five minutes.

It's obvious we don't know what we're talking about. Take mutton - often a word used in a derogatory fashion. I was listening to the BBC's Food Programme a few days ago where a selection of people were asked what the word mutton meant to them and almost nobody had any good to say of it.

Now I can categorically say, here and now that mutton is a fabulous meat. But what is mutton? Those interviewed on the BBC used words such as old, fatty, tough, stringy and so on. No one described it as tender and tasty with a fabulous texture.

When I ask the question of farmers, I get a different answer than that which I get from butchers. But at least I can get one from them because ask the majority of chefs and you'll be rewarded with a blank stare.

Traditionally, mutton is lamb slaughtered after Christmas having been born in the early part of the year. …

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