Whilst the trend for plant-based eating continues to boom, the majority of people in the UK remain omnivores. Nose to tail eating is high on the agenda, not only from a sustainability angle but also from a cost perspective, as chefs and caterers look to make use of the whole animal. With this in mind, we asked several leading chefs and butchery experts to reveal their thoughts and recipe suggestions for less well-known cuts of meat…
The versatility of lamb means there are cuts for many different meal occasions. Look out for seasonal variations too, from tender new season spring lamb to flavoursome autumn lamb. Do not worry about asking for advice on which lamb cut to use for your recipe, that’s what butchers are there for!
Here is our recommendation for lamb cuts available for grilling:
- Lamb cutlets – taken from the best end, these require little cooking and should be eaten slightly pink. The cooking time depends on the thickness but ask your butchers’ advice.
- Barnsley chops – also known as crown or double chops and prepared from the saddle, these are perfect for those with a hearty appetite.
- Valentine steaks – a modern butterfly cut prepared from the loin with the meat of two chops. For some great lamb recipes visit www.qguild. co.uk/recipes.
Making full use of the carcass is important for me, making sure there is as little waste from nose to tail as possible. I have a Lamb Four Ways curry dish, which utilises meat from four areas of the carcass and various cooking methods to give the guest a fantastic experience at the table. The full recipe is available online at www. stiritupmagazine.co.uk/recipes
The Tomahawk Steak is a rich marbled rib-eye served on the bone resulting in a cut about 2” thick. We have a night in Wood Restaurant devoted entirely to this fantastic cut – Tomahawk Tuesdays. Many guests request the cut rare which is too underdone for the cut, but to get the perfect Tomahawk steak, it should be served just under medium. Because of the fat-marbling in the cut, if it’s undercooked the steak can feel chewy rather than perfectly charred at the edges and pink in the middle.
When you think of nose to tail eating, the pig immediately springs to mind. From snout to rear hock of the humble pig, you will find a fantastic variety of textures and flavours. Each cut of the meat has its different uses and, with the right cooking technique and recipe, can be made into a masterpiece. One of my favourite cuts is the pig cheek which, when slowly braised in cider, onion and apples, creates a hearty dish full of flavour. Serve with sliced potatoes cooked in the braising liquor for a winning main meal worthy of any à la carte menu.
While nose to tail eating may seem like another one of those ‘buzz terms’, from the perspective of reducing waste and increasing flavour in a dish it’s bang on and utilises the whole beef or lamb carcass. The stand out dishes which encompass nose to tail eating I’ve seen use cuts like lamb sweetbreads which are pannier and blanched to really bring out the flavour. Ox tongue is also on trend, which is braised and pressed. Recently I’ve also tried dishes with multiple lamb breasts held together with meat glue to produce one delicious cut – watch more top chef tips in the new ‘Off the block’ series on QSMbeefandlamb.co.uk
In the United Kingdom, we commonly use certain cuts of lamb – though generally veer away from parts with surprising health benefits that are also incredibly delicious. For example, lamb brain curry is rich in protein and packed with flavour, juiciness and wonderful when served with a butter naan for an indulgent feast. Lamb hoof soup makes a hearty starter, especially when the bone marrow melts and give a unique, unforgettable taste – it also contains amino acids which are great for the body. My new menu with Mastcraft Hotels will showcase ingredients like these that stand out from the more traditional dishes.
Alongside the more expensive cuts we also use lamb breast and neck, and one of our most requested dishes is individual shepherd’s pie with lamb loin across the top – this was inspired by my grandmother. I use lamb mince, but also roast lamb bones with the carrots, onions and red wine to help enhance the flavour of the dish with the stock. The full recipe is online at www.stiritup magazine.co.uk/ recipes.