Hints and Tips For Successful Meat Purchasing

You’re Not Alone!

Are you sometimes bewildered by the variety of meat cuts available and more importantly what to do with them, but afraid to ask?  Well you’re not alone.

Experience has shown that many people stick to the same things week in week out because it feels ‘safe’.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and it could be argued that if something isn’t broken, why try fixing it!

Very true, but, if you were asked to describe a ‘good quality’ cut of meat, what might you say? Fillet steak perhaps, or leg of lamb.  Yes, they should be good, but only if they have been properly produced and of course properly cooked.

But does this mean that something like ‘Shin beef’ or ‘Neck of Lamb’ is of inferior quality? The answer is an emphatic ‘NO’.  What it does mean is that careful attention needs to be paid to matching the cut of meat to the needs of the meal into which it is to be incorporated.

There would be little point in using fillet steak for a stew for example.  That’s obvious I hear you say.  But, it is less obvious when for example something on a meat counter is described as ‘Frying Steak’.  I have seen cuts such as Topside, Silverside, Knuckle, Thick Rib, Chuck and Rump so described.  These cuts may or may not be suitable as frying steak, depending on ‘their quality’.  And that’s the point, you can have ‘good quality topside’ or ‘poor quality topside’ for example, but it’s all topside.

So what makes a good quality piece of meat?

There are many variable factors, including;

  • Breed type
  • Husbandry i.e. feeding, general care, transporting
  • The age of the animal itself
  • The sex of the animal
  • The handling of carcases and maturation
  • The care given to butchering the meat
  • Matching the cut of meat to the meal
  • There are many others………..

So how on earth are you expected to be able to know about all this?

Well of course you’re not, that would simply be unreasonable.  But if you’ve ever wondered why, when you buy, say a joint from a supermarket one week and it’s nice, why, when you buy the same joint a week or two later is it horrible?  This is, where the variable factors come into play.

The key to consistent eating quality is to reduce the variable factors to a minimum.  Combine this with matching the right cut of meat to the meal occasion and you’re on the right road to enjoying what you buy time after time.

Sounds like a minefield doesn’t it?  After all, all you want is a nice bit of meat for dinner, or a decent sausage, or bacon that doesn’t disappear to nothing when you cook it.

Well this is where specialist Butchers such as here at Westlands can help.  Because we know the provenance of the meat we sell and because we manufacture on site all the pies, sausages, bacon, burgers etc, we are able to exercise great control over the ‘variable factors’.

Of course many of you reading this will be very good cooks and your culinary skills unwavering.  Variability in a meal can therefore only come from the raw ingredients.  Others may not be so confident in their abilities.  Most will have wondered why, when they’ve done everything right, was the meat tough?

We’re here to help

If any of this has whetted your appetite to question the meat or meat products you buy, or if you’re looking for hints, tips or inspiration, then please do pay us a visit at Westlands Farm Shop.  You will be warmly welcomed by our small team of friendly staff and we will endeavour to ensure that your shopping experience is memorable and your purchases enjoyable.