With meat so easily available from the supermarket in bloodless plastic packs, we seem to be moving further and further away from knowing where our food is coming from. Going to the butcher as a child – I always loved the queues so I could watch the butchers at work for a few minutes – at least I got to see the carcasses hanging up and the hard physical work that goes into preparing them. When the Little Sister (I predate supermarkets, she’s rarely been near a butcher) caught sight of sides of beef hanging in a truck recently she almost got sick.
After the pork scare before Christmas, there’s a new interest in traceability and – with purse strings tightening by the day – in making the most from cheaper cuts of meat, something your butcher is particularly well placed to help you with. When I worked in Mallow, Lucey’s Butchers was where I always went. Now, finding myself nearer to Mitchelstown, Hanley’s is my first port of call, especially for their superb black pudding – and, in an eco-friendly manner, all their packages come expertly wrapped in brown paper and tied up with string so your supper of lambs’ kidneys looks like a mysteriously shaped gift.
If you’re interested in learning more about meat, Urru in Bandon is hosting a series of Slow Food Master Classes all about meat, starting tonight. The Slow Food West Cork Convivium, Urru Culinary Store, Dan Maloney Meat Centre and Martin Carey Butchers have got together to facilitate the classes, which will start in Urru, moving onwards to the butchers’ shops for butchering demonstrations, instruction on identifying cuts, characteristics, matching cuts to cooking methods and budgeting. The evenings will end with refreshments in Urru, combined with discussion on meat issues, traceability, food chain, organic, free range, freezing and recipes.
The classes will be running for the next four Tuesdays, apart from St Patrick’s Day (3 March, 10 March, 24 March and 31 March), from 7.30pm to 9pm. Each class, including refreshments, recipes and special offers, costs €25 per night (€20 for Slow Food Members) or €80 for all four Master Classes. For more information and to reserve your place call Urru, Bandon on 023 8854731 or email email@example.com.