I’m a big believer in knowing where your food comes from. If you eat meat you should understand how your steak gets from the cow to your plate, in the same way that you should know that carrots grow in the ground, not on trees. That is exactly what you learn if you attend one of the new butchery courses at the Quality Chop House.
Since opening the Chop House Will Lander has acquired what once was a tired tool shop next door and converted it into a butchers and food shop. I’m told they even make their own crisps. In the basement they have a room fully equipped for chopping meat: a gigantic wooden table on huge old metal wheels, saws hanging from the walls and a row of pristine white overcoats. That and three hulking lamb carcasses on hooks. This course is full carcass and full on.
If like me you struggled to even go into a butcher’s shop until fairly recently this will be a challenge for you, as it was for me, but it is certainly worth it. Head butcher Ollie Seabright takes you through breaking down the entire beast, ribs, saddle, legs, pluck. Everything. And it is hands on.
Working in small groups equipped with gloves, saws and stiff boners (stop laughing, it is a genuine butchery knife) you learn the art of taking apart an animal and turning practically every bit of it into something that you can enjoy.
The class lasts two hours and by the end of it you are left with shoulders, legs, saddles, ribs and bellies. From something rather daunting you have produced recognizable cuts of meat. You can also clearly see as you go along how all of the cuts are connected and therefore which cheaper – but similarly good – cuts to get from your butcher. Best end of neck for example. This level of understanding is key to great home economics – making great food with high quality ingredients but for less money.
You even learn how to do a proper butcher’s knot. This involves a karate chop and twist motion. Complicated but very satisfying to master and it will make your roasts look even prettier (and more importantly not full apart).
After the class you move to the restaurant to eat the fruits of your labour. From lamb croquettes, crispy ribs covered in mint sauce to a full plate of roasted shoulder and leg – everything was perfectly cooked, as you would expect from a place of this caliber, and simply delicious. You are fed thoroughly and wined to a similar degree before being presented with a goodie bag of the meat you prepared to take home.
This is an informative, well thought through and enjoyable course. Moreover at £135 per person it is incredibly good value. So stop trying to pick carrots from trees and go and get yourself educated about your meat.