A Very International Guide to Very British Meat
Shopping in the butchers can be something of a daunting experience if you are an overseas student coming to the UK for the first time. British butchers shops tend to sell a huge range of different meat products ranging from familiar products to some pretty bizarre stuff.
Unlike much of the rest of the world, most British butcher shops tend not to specialize in one kind of meat (In France for example a Chacuterie predominantly sells pork products) in many British butchers shops you will find a wide range of Beef, Pork, Lamb and Poultry products usually sourced from the local area.
Forget the dog, if you like meat then your local butcher will become your best friend! British butchers are known for their ability to combine an encyclopedic knowledge of all things meaty with a jovial personality. Many of the butchers I speak to while on a studentcooking.tv shoots are very friendly and deal with international students regularly, so don’t be afraid to ask questions!
One thing you may find difficult is some of the name, cuts and phrases by which the British label meats, so here is a quick guide to British Meat.
There are numerous cuts for the humble cow. Their uses are all pretty different and their prices range considerably:
This cut of meat come from just above the leg and is ideal for roasting the perfect Sunday joint. You will see this cut in the supermarket and the butchers shop. It is a relatively large cut of meat and usually forms part of a shared meal. It is best cooked at a low heat for three to four hours and is usually inexpensive when bought between a few friends
The Rump is a cut of meat taken from the lower back of the cow and makes an excellent piece of frying steak, usually at a price that wont break the bank either. Can be found In the supermarket and behind the butchers counter
Fillet is usually considered the finest cut of the cow and this is reflected in the price. On the cow, it sits between the rump and the sirloin and usually has little to no fat. It is a very lean piece of mat and best eaten as a steak and not as part of another dish. Usually an expensive cut of meat
Sirloin is one of the most common steaks available. It has a good band of fat on it which makes it great as a simple frying steak but can also be used diced up in a stew. Usually sirloin is a little more expensive than Rump but tends to be a thicker steak.
Shin is a cut from the lower leg and makes wonderful stewing meat as it is fibrous with some fat content. It is usually quite a cheap piece of meat and quite common in British cooking. If it is not displayed on the butchers counter always ask.
Cheap and easy cut of meat to prepare, has a nice piece of fleshy meat surrounded by a few bands of fat. Diced up can be used for stews and pies but also tastes great simply fried or grilled. Usually a very cheap cut of meat found in the supermarket.
Premium Pork joint. Very little fat, steaks cut from the leg are great for stir frying but generally this is a roasting joint. Usually bought from the butchers
Relatively cheap cut of meat, very good for roasting. Cut it into cubes for kebabs and stir fry’s and stews. Mostly found in the butchers shop.
Thighs and Drumsticks
Basically these parts make up the leg and can be used for a wide range of meals. The thigh is excellent slowly roasted and contains a nice balanced of white and dark meats on the bone for extra flavor. Drumsticks are usually found mostly on the barbecue but also cook great in the oven. These parts of the chicken are very inexpensive from both the butcher and supermarket.
Many British butchers will keep back offcuts of meat such as the neck, brains, hearts and intestines. Sometimes these are displayed in the shop, however if they are not its always best to ask.