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Chris Berry takes a look at the cuts making their comeback
Nostalgia abounds during wintertime and talk around the festive dinner tables, while tucking in to turkey, goose, beef, duck, lamb or pork, can lead to fond memories of not just the Morecambe & Wise Christmas Special but also family reminiscences including the type of meals that were commonplace in the New Year.
Years ago after having spent a great deal on feeding families often with the biggest bird that could be bought the housewife's purse moved to buying something a little cheaper and the focus landed on other sometimes now forgotten favourites such as oxtail, ox tongue, ox cheeks, pork belly, brisket and the delightfully named scrag end.
These traditional cuts were as familiar in January and February as today's silversides, ribs of beef, sirloins, rib-eyes and pork chops. The really great news is that all of these forgotten favourites are experiencing a deserved renaissance.
Farmison & Co has become a leading player in this food phenomenon thanks to their commitment to the qualities of providing great cuts from native UK breeds of grass reared beef cattle, sheep and pigs. This is backed up even further with fabulous recipes from Farmison & Co's own award winning chefs.
Here's a guide to six great cuts that all benefit from long, slow cooking, will warm up your winter and more than tantalise your taste buds:
This fabulous cut on the bone is often deemed the perfect braising meat with amazing depth of flavour that many professionals believe to be unmatched by any other cut. Its position as an all-rounder comes from also being held in high regard for stews and as one of the most popular soup varieties.
For the uninitiated this is, as its name suggests, the tail of what was once regarded centuries prior as on ox but now is the tail of a cow. The meat comes from around the bones of the tail and it is the gelatinous tendons of this fibrous meat that when cooked and braised slowly provide its rich, deep flavour. The marrow in the centre of the bone also cooks beautifully and adds even greater taste.
Oxtail is a culinary success the world over and among its long line of credits are Jamaican oxtail stew, Chinese braised oxtail stew and Coda Alla Vaccinara (Roman oxtail stew) one of Italy's favourite dishes of all time.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall believes the rehabilitation of nose to tail eating in the UK has come around largely because of ox tongue's amazing taste. Farmison & Co is seeing ever increasing orders as smart restaurants and home cooks alike come to realise the rich and almost pate-like texture. Reputedly the tastiest part of the cow in many professionals' eyes and as such sometimes now seen as a delicacy there is no denying ox tongue's place in today's headlong rush towards finding even greater variety and flavour.
Farmison & Co's free range, grass fed beef from herds in the north of England offer extremely tasty ox tongue. The benefits of natural, native breeds come to the fore particularly when experiencing more individual, less well-known cuts.
Brined, slowly simmered, braised, boiled or cold pressed ox tongue is a taste sensation all around the world as tongue toast in North America as an open faced sandwich; pot roast and braised stuffed tongue in Puerto Rico; widely used in Mexican cuisine as a favoured meat in tacos and burritos; prepared as boiled beef tongue with mushrooms and Madeira sauce in Belgium and France; and in pot roasts with onions and sauces. Delia Smith describes ox tongue as wonderful with pickles and salads when sliced and with sandwiches.
Braised or brined ox cheeks have long been a favourite of quality restaurants. They are at their best when cooked slowly and carefully until tender when they provide a richly-flavoured, dense, creamy palate sensation often in a full bodied red wine.
If you're looking for something that has little or no fat then you're also going to fall quickly in love with ox cheeks that are, as you might by now have gathered, the cheeks of the cow. These are succulent, nutritious, healthy meats of exquisite quality and flavour from Farmison & Co's sourcing of native herd beef cattle that have been fed naturally. They benefit from being cooked in wine and brought to their perfect taste in a covered pot checked regularly to guarantee your culinary adventure is a mission completed admirably.
Perhaps the most famous name among the cuts of beef making a comeback is brisket. It's one of the nine primal cuts of a beef animal and comes from the lower chest area. This is the area where the muscles used support 60 per cent of the cow or bull's body weight while standing. That's why cooking of brisket correctly is so important as tenderising the tissue is vital to ensure you enjoy a fabulous mouth-watering taste that comes about best when cooked slow and long. Casseroles are one of the favourites for brisket, along with braising and in stews. In the US brisket is highly popular in pot roasts and when rubbed with spices, marinated and cooked slowly over charcoal and wood.
Brisket when tenderised remains a real UK favourite especially around this time of year as it is generally cheaper than the other eight primal cuts, while still offering fabulous taste and succulence. Farmison & Co's commitment to grass fed, native breed beef ensures its own brisket is as natural as you can get.
Everyone has heard of pork belly even if they haven't tried it. This soft, tender meat from the beautifully soft flesh of a pig is a slow roast delight and if cooked well will also provide that pork essential of cracking crispy crackling.
Farmison & Co sources top quality native breed pork from breeds such as Berkshire, Gloucester Old Spot, Large White and Welsh Black that have been raised free range and therefore stress free. This means the pork belly taste is unhindered by the kind of tightness that produces a tougher pork and ensures Farmison & Co's customers of a delightful, melt in the mouth experience.
Pork belly is particularly popular in eastern Asian cuisine, Europe and North America. Belly pork strips in apples and sage is just one of many great meals brought about by wonderful slow roasts.
In today's culture you'd probably not give this kind of title to any form of meat cut that you might want to put on the market, but it is a name that has stuck and scrag end is well and truly back!
At a time when Trivial Pursuit games may have been played once again the definition of scrag end could very easily have appeared as a question. It is the neck of the lamb and is highly regarded for its rich flavour when slow cooked and at its best used in casseroles, pies, soups and stews. Braised scrag end is another winner.
Scrag end comes from the fore part of the neck and is one of the primal cuts. It is the opposite side of the best part of the middle neck where you find the cutlets. Farmison & Co's sourcing of traditional outdoor reared, grass fed lamb ensures the most stress free scrag end on the market.