Posts Tagged ‘Great British produce’

Vegetarians look away now!

There’s more to meat than a Sunday roasting joint, chop or pack of mince and if you’re going to eat meat I strongly believe you should know where it comes from. I don’t mean the butcher, market or supermarket but the provenance; how it has been brought into the world as an animal, cared for, slaughtered, hung, butchered and sold to us.

The Ginger Pig Meat Book, a collaboration by Tim Wilson, the farmer behind the Ginger Pig chain of butchers, and Fran Warde, cook and food writer, is more than just a cookery book. It tells the whole story, from terre to table, of the pig, the cow, the sheep, birds and game animals.

It’s an easy to read and skilfully produced reference book on the characteristics of different breeds, what is good and bad husbandry, humane methods of slaughter, good butchery as well as what quality meat should look like, how to pick the right cut for a dish and how to store, prepare, cook, rest and carve it.

Not only does it serve as encouragement to us all to choose our meat well,  but also to the growing number of farmers working to bring back traditional British breeds of animals, so-called rare breeds, pushed to the verge of extinction as a result of intensive farming.

The recipe section, complete with a collection of 100 recipes showing off head to toe cuts from all the great British animals featured in the reference section, are organised around a year in the life diary of a busy and bountiful Yorkshire farm.

The seasonal recipes cover family favourites (meatballs, burgers, casseroles), British classics (hot pots, pies and roasts), quick evening meals (I can vouch for the smoked bacon and cheddar tortilla, roast duck legs with lentils and fragrant lamb kebabs), dishes for entertaining (Navarin of lamb, roast Michaelmas goose) meals from around the world (Bogota bavette, goulash and lamb pilaf) as well as recipes for the more daring; curing your own ham for instance. There’s even a recipe for the Ginger Pig sausage roll which, according to Valentine Warner, is the finest sausage roll known to man.

In essence the recipes are for good, honest food, the key to which is quality meat.

The book has a charming rustic look and the beautiful photographs of happy animals in their natural habitat as well as the wonderful dishes they serve to create are plentiful. A real treasure and a fabulous book for any animal and meat lover.


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Mark Hix, British Seasonal Food. I couldn’t have received this book at a better time. Just as I was really starting to think that winter was never going to end and February’s lull of fresh and exciting home-grown vegetables would zap me of all remaining inspiration, I could at last look ahead to March with a gentle reminder of the joys to come with the start of spring. 

I felt the excitement bubbling inside of me knowing that soon purple sprouting broccoli would give rise to spring lamb, which would lead on to asparagus, broad beans, peas and then a plentiful bounty of summer produce, before we could harvest soft fruits and tuck into autumn colours and flavours. I almost felt ready to be able to look forward to next winter too, only this year armed with a month by month handbook to keep me sane. 

Hix shows us that with a dose of creativity, a bit of forethought, not too much planning, a hunt around the hedgerows or seashores and a good source of meat, fish, fruit and vegetables you can really make the most of the great British seasons. Some may see it as a romantic ideal but why not look on it as a challenge? If we open our minds, there’s no reason why we can’t achieve at least some of the food lifestyle changes he suggests. 

British Seasonal Food is about going back to our roots. It holds an abundance of useful information about ingredients, tips on working and shopping with the seasons, not to mention heaps of encouragement. Hix’s passion for British produce is addictive and really shines through in the recipes. Classics, such as faggots, are brought up-to-date, quick and simple meals like cabbage and bacon soup, are combined with the more elaborate, there are inventive demonstrations of under-used cuts of meat and fish (fish collar curry or cod’s tongues perhaps?) and every dish shows off produce at its best. All this will ensure I pull his book off the shelf at least once a month ahead of any other!

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We spent the weekend with friends who had rented a cottage for a week near Radstock. We arrived famished on Friday evening in the pitch black and pouring rain after having lost our bearings twisting and turning our way through the narrow lanes. We’d have to wait until morning to see the idyllic surroundings in which we found ourselves, and so with the promise of a glass of red and food warming in the oven, we quickly unpacked the car.

Our friends had spent the day visiting local farm shops and had picked up tonight’s dinner along the way. We tucked in to hand-made Scotch eggs, giant herby pork sausage rolls, deep-filled and chunky chicken and bacon pie, fresh baked bread and salad from White Row Country Foods in Beckington. If ever there’s a need to defend Great British produce and cooking, farm shops like White Row come to the rescue. This one is definitely worth a day trip for the sausage rolls alone!

On Saturday we awoke to see a stream running past the front of the house, goats and sheep grazing in the back garden and a view across luscious green fields. We set ourselves up for a walk to the public house in the village (not much effort involved with it only being a five minute walk!) with brunch of American pancakes with maple syrup. With local ales and ciders on tap we could have stayed all afternoon but returned instead to our temporary homestead to watch the rugby joined by two more friends (Wales v Australia and Wales lost, in case you’re interested!). After the torments of the match we refueled with that Great British classic cottage pie.

Before heading our separate ways today we stopped in the next village, Lower Vobster, for lunch at the Vobster Inn. This 16th century inn for travellers has a menu which shows off the best of British produce – cheese, seafood and game were highlights on today’s specials board.


We had starters of crab soup, creamy with a deep, rich flavour from both the white and brown crab meat; terrine of wild mallard, beautiful layers of duck and duck liver bound in a fresh herb jelly and served with a home-made brioche; and scallops, seared to perfection, served with white and black pudding and bubble and squeak.

For main course we had roast pheasant breast with pheasant boudin wrapped in proscuitto, saute potatoes and spinach; home-made beef burger with chunky chips and tomato salsa; and slow roast lamb with potatoes and vegetables.

We finished with a trio of fruit sorbet, warm chocolate brownie with ice cream and sticky toffee pudding with caramel sauce and ice cream.


This isn’t a modern gastropub, it’s a good old-fashioned pub which champions great British produce, simply but very well cooked. All jaunts in the countryside should end at a pub like this!

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