Met Hugh this weekend...

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Thatch, Jun 22, 2004.

  1. Thatch

    Thatch Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    368
    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2002
    I'm not sure how many here will even know who I am talking about but I met Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall this weekend at an event a the River Cottage Center in Dorset. If you aren't familiar with Hugh he is a chef who has become quite a bit more than someone who cooks a nice meal. He put on a series here in the UK (which I think had some limited release in the states) called Escape to, Return to and Tales from River Cottage. He experimented with small holding (homesteading) in the hills of southern England with a focus on food and getting as close to the source for all your food; growing or raising it when you could, or hunting/gathering it or finding a local quality producer. The show touched on many of the issues the small holder has, from frugality and using the most of what you have to animal husbandry to marketing your produce.

    Though when Hugh started his small holding was only a part time affair, he has now made his home in Devon and has begun a series of events and courses at his River Cottage center. I attended one of these this weekend. The subject of the evening was "meat'. Hugh has recently released a new book aptly titled "The River Cottage Meat Book". This event was an opportunity to get a signed copy of the book and to have several hour presentation and Q&A session with Hugh on the topic of meat as well as have several recipes/techniques demonstrated to us. The evening then culminated in a 3 meat course dinner (can't beat that) and a rather late evening of discussion with like minded folks.

    Here is a pic of Hugh holding up what we were to later have for dinner. I was a bit surprised to learn that the beef was in fact from a Guernsey steer but upon inspection the beef was laced with incredible marbling and in fact turned out to be one of the best beef meals I had ever had.

    [​IMG]

    Issues such as proper hanging times, packaging, cooking and resting times were al discussed as well as some husbandry issues. It was only a 6 hour event so there was a limit of how much depth we could go into. All in all it was a great event.

    I have in the last few days been reading the RC Meat book and have learned a great deal. Hugh isn't one to shy away from his personal thoughts on intensive farming and the poor quality that grocery stores put out but the majority of the book (which is a big text book of a tome) is an excellent resource for any of the carnivores out there. Get it if you can.

    J
     
  2. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,622
    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2003
    Location:
    Maine
    Looks like a nicely aged, slightly skanky rib he's got there. I wish we could get beef like that here in the states, but everyone freaks out if the meat's not that freaky bright red color we've all been brainwashed to prefer.
     

  3. Thatch

    Thatch Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    368
    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2002
    It was indeed well aged. I believe that one was aged about 4-5 weeks. The aging and packaging aspect of the talk was some of the best information I received. He spoke quite a bit about the problem with wet meat packaging (vacupack and cling film type). Poor packaging coupled with improper aging results in meat marinating in it's own blood. The end result is tough meat. The problem is exacerbated when the meat is then frozen. Large amounts of liquid in the meat crystallize when frozen tearing the fibers of the meat, creating an even tough cut once thawed.

    The biggest rule of thumb discussed was wet meat = tough/dry meat when cooked. Air dried (i.e. well hung) meat = tender meat when cooked.

    The meal we had proved the axiom well. There was a variety of levels of doneness available and I selected the rarest (and this was VERY rare) cut and it was exceptional, in both flavor and tenderness. We also had a salt beef (brine/wet cured) on a puree of spring peas (very nice) and a sampling of his bacon (which he demonstrated how to make.

    Again, can't say enough good things about the book. We all take a great deal of effort to raise our animals well and to butcher them humanely, let's make sure we know all we can to make the most of that meat once the animal is culled.

    J
     
  4. Alison Homa

    Alison Homa Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    48
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    Devon England
    Thatch

    He still lives in Dorset, but you are right he is a great inspiration to Smallholders in the UK.

    Do you post on the River cottage forum

    Alison
     
  5. Thatch

    Thatch Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    368
    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2002
    Your right it is Dorset. I mistakenly said Devon. Comes from not being a native I guess.

    I don't post often on RC forums, simply because the breath of the forums there is so great. I don't like the way the discussion is spread out over so many sub-sections. It makes it difficult to follow the threads. Because of that I never really have gotten very active with that site.

    J
     
  6. Alison Homa

    Alison Homa Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    48
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    Devon England
    I ignore the section it is in and just check the "view posts since last visit" button. Much easier. What is your user name there

    Alison
     
  7. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    704
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    Western NY
    My Mum was telling me about is Homesteading show, when she was over here last month. I do wish we could get it over here, any idea if it will air on BBC America???

    Carol
     
  8. Alison Homa

    Alison Homa Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    48
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    Devon England
    Not sure. They weren't BBC programmes.

    Alison
     
  9. "I met Hugh.........." There for a moment I thought you was talking about my uncle Hugh Hefner! Sorry! :rolleyes: