The Quality Standard Mark way

Hello, it’s Daddacool here, moonlighting from my normal abode.

As one of natures great carnivores, I was delighted when the Quality Standard Mark invited wifey to a meat butchery evening to find out more about preparing meat and the exacting standards that meat bearing the QSM label has to adhere to. I was doubly delighted when they agreed for me to attend in wifey’s stead as she couldn’t make it.

The chef cum butcher showing us how to prepare meat wasn’t any old herbert either. Nope, it was Henry Herbert (see what I did there), from the Fabulous Baker Brothers.

Over the course of an hour or so, I learnt the secrets of rump steak, where is best to buy it and how to prepare half a lamb. We actually had a go at spatchcocking a leg of lamb ourselves too. I’ll call it a success because I finished with exactly the same number of fingers that I started with and a whacking great hunk of lamb.

The thing I love about cookery classes are the tips and tricks for making what you do at home as simple as it appears on the telly. For example, whatever Henry attacked, he attacked with a small 6 inch knife (or a bone saw but that’s not something we had to worry about) because you can’t get any precision out of a foot long carving knife. And boy was it sharp.

some sheep were killed in the production of this blog post

In our household we use a lot of lamb, whether it’s chops, joints or mince. We’ve always had this notion it’s healthier than beef because it’s a lot harder to intensively farm sheep than cows. To us sheep like wandering around hills and so on, where cows seem to like having antibiotic injections and avoiding badgers. Of course it’s a quaint half truth view of things but we generally like to live on quaint half truths. It took me a long time to forget reading Fast Food Nation I can tell you.

So reading the rigorous procedure that lambs have to be subject to in order to have the Quality Standard Mark on them was a bit of an eye opener. Assured and inspected abattoirs  specific hanging times that are dependant on age, they’re not allowed to have given birth, the list goes on and on (you can read about the procedure in detail here). I think we focused too much on how the animals were treated when alive, which is obviously important but only part of the story.

Having said that, this episode of Panorama from 2003  still haunts me since a company was caught injecting beef and pork protein into chicken to help it retain water. You’ll get none of that with the QSM, which has recently upgraded it’s inspection process to be one of the most vigorous in the world. The process that beef has to undergo is remarkable similar really. Of course you probably won’t see the QSM mark on the two joints for a fiver packs in most supermarkets but that misses the point really.

Personally I’d rather eat less of something thats better quality than more of something that might have been wet hung, or not very well looked after, so you pay your money and take your choice to a degree. That is where people like the inimitable Mr Henry Herbert and your high st butcher come in though. There are plenty of cheaper cuts of meat that the butcher can sell and prepare for you that will be immeasurably better than a thin slice of rump steak from a supermarket that would cost the same and you get the opportunity to support local businesses to boot.

Or, you could do what we did and learn to prepare it yourself, which makes it even cheaper!


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