What could be more English than celebrating the country's best beef producers on St George's Day?
We might not have a specific national food (though fish and chips is definitely in the running) but a plate piled high with roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and gravy is a favourite meal up and down the country and one which we’re known for internationally.
The French even call English people “les rosbifs”. So we at lovefood.com thought we’d use the occasion of St George’s Day this week to celebrate the very best of our beef producers.
Topping the bill is Laverstoke Park, an organic and biodynamic farm run by former F1 champ Jody Scheckter. You might have seen the farm on Channel 4’s Food: What Goes in your Basket?, which used Laverstoke’s top butcher to educate viewers about different cuts of meat, or on a recent episode of Raymond Blanc’s Kitchen Secrets.
Scheckter began farming to produce top quality food for his family, but when he realised that every time he killed a cow he would have to spend the next few months eating beef, he decided to make his meat available to the rest of us through a farm shop.
Lucky us – now we can get our chops around Laverstoke’s traditional Hereford and Aberdeen Angus cattle. These rare breeds are famous in name but surprisingly small numbers of them are left. Laverstoke has 133 pure Herefords, about 20% of the total number globally, and 18 pure Angus, one third of the total number. The plan is to build up the herds of native breeds so that we can all enjoy more of them.
Laverstoke is also famous for its buffalo, but that’s another story. The Fat Duck and Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons are fans, so you’ll be in good company if you order one of their joints of beef to celebrate St George’s Day.
The Greigs, who run Pipers, are so careful about rearing the best animals possible that they even formulate their own feed. They have rare and traditional breeds such as Devon Red Ruby cattle and only use one small, local abattoir.
For a special occasion, splash out on the Red Ruby forerib of beef.
Sheepdrove Organic Farm
Another of Rick Stein’s Food Heroes is Sheepdrove Organic Farm in Berkshire, which is working on converting its South Devon and Aberdeen Angus herds to Hereford and Aberdeen.
The farm has shops in London and Bristol (the city’s only fully organic butcher) and online. Like Laverstoke and Pipers, Sheepdrove works with its land and animals to get the best out of them, rather than pumping the fields full of pesticides and fertilisers and the cattle full of growth hormones. Yes, these are time-consuming and expensive standards but you’ll taste the benefits when the steak hits your plate.
Well Hung Meat Company
The Well Hung Meat Company is an established online retailer that sells meat from just a handful of local farms, including Geoff Sayers’ Carswell Farm who was the first to produce meat for Well Hung.
Carswell stretches along the coast of South Devon and has been farming the area for hundreds of years. The warm, wet and sunny weather provides conditions for some of the country’s finest organic meat.
Food writer Tom Parker-Bowles describes their meat as “Steak as it should taste. The Well Hung Meat sirloin steaks are packed with beef heft and lip-smacking flavour, they had real character, rich with a touch of sweetness.”
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