Best Sheep Breeds For Meat

I have been asked what are the best sheep to breed for meat.

I have read that for best meat production, consider fast-growing breeds with good carcasses. Generally, medium to large breeds are good for meat.

My husband felt that downland breeds such as Texel or Suffolk are best sheep breeds for meat.

I asked my sheep farming friend and she said that her husband “favours a Beltex tup to a Suffolk ewe for meat production.”

Via twitter Jane @ dovefarm suggested the Ryelands, ” I would have to say ‘ryelands’ from mine n customers experience.”

I googled best sheep breeds and found that the Hampshire  and the Dorper or White Dorper seem to be good meat breeds.

Which sheep breed do you think is best for meat production?

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Rabbit Casserole

We had some rabbit meat in the freezer so I made a rabbit casserole with it.

Rabbit Casserole

Rabbit Casserole

Ingredients

  • whole rabbit cut into joints.
  • 1 carrot diced.
  • 1 leek sliced thinly.
  • Half a red pepper, green pepper and yellow pepper cut into small pieces.
  • 4 tomatoes chopped into quarters.
  • 6-8 mushrooms sliced.
  • 1 onion peeled and sliced thinly.
  • 1 pint of vegetable stock.
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
  • Pinch of thyme.
  • Flour for coating meat.
  • Butter for frying.

Method

  1. Coat joints of rabbit in flour.
  2. Melt butter in a pan.
  3. Fry rabbit joints so that they are brown on both sides. Remove and keep warm.
  4. Fry onions, mushrooms and peppers in remaining butter.
  5. Add remaining vegetables, lemon juice, thyme and stock.
  6. Return the rabbit to the pan, cover and simmer for 1 hour or until the rabbit is tender.
  7. Remove the rabbit and take the meat from the bones and then add the meat back into the pan and stir until meat mixed in.


Serve the rabbit casserole with potatoes and green vegetables. Serves 4.

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Mike Robinson’s Toad In The Hole Winter Recipe

With the nights drawing in, the clocks soon to be going back and the need for the heating on to take the chill out of the Autumnal air, Winter is definately on it’s way.  Top chef and TV presenter Mike Robinson, has come up with some delicious, warming recipes to turn the dark evenings into a real treat.

Mike’s takes on the British classic, Toad in the Hole with savoury goose fat which he says is perfect for adding a subtle savoury flavour and silky texture to traditional dishes. He comments; “Goose fat is an essential Winter store cupboard ingredient.  It takes classics like Toad in the Hole to new heights.”

Toad in the hole of Lincolnshire sausage, roasted red onion and field mushrooms

Mike Robinson's Toad In The Hole

Mike Robinson's Toad In The Hole

This British classic positively requires goose fat for its successful completion.

Serves 4

8 large Lincolnshire sausages

2 large red onions

4 large field mushrooms

A small bunch of fresh sage

100g goose fat

Pudding batter:

250g plain flour

A pinch of salt

600mls of milk

2 large eggs

To make this successfully you must have a heavy pan and cook it in a hot oven.

For the batter:

Well in advance of eating, make the batter. Beat the flour, salt, egg and milk together into a smooth batter.  Let it rest in a fridge for a couple of hours, or overnight.

For the Toad in the hole:

Preheat an oven to 220c.

In a heavy pan on a hob, heat the goose fat and then add the sausages and cook until brown.

Chop the red onions into quarters and then add them to the pan, allowing them to colour.

Pull the stem out of the mushrooms and cut them into quarters. Add these to the pan and cook until brown.

Make sure that there is plenty of goose fat in the pan (the mushrooms will soak some of it up). Remove from the heat and then pour in the batter mixture.

Add sage leaves and seasoning. Bake in a 220c oven for 30 minutes or until well risen and golden.

Click on the link for more information on cooking with goose fat and more recipe ideas, or contact the Goose Fat Information Service on 0207 631 3232.

Let me know if you try Mike’s Toad In The Hole  recipe and what you think.

Mike Robinson’s Chicken Pie Recipe

I was recently sent top chef and TV presenter Mike Robinson’s Chicken pie recipe, so thought I would share this tasty Winter warmer recipe with you as the nights draw in.

Mike Robinson's Chicken Pie

Mike Robinson's Chicken Pie

Mike’s takes on this British classic, Chicken Pie, cooked with savoury goose fat which he says is perfect for adding a subtle savoury flavour and silky texture to traditional dishes. He comments; “Goose fat is an essential Winter store cupboard ingredient.  It makes the most lovely, crumbly, savoury pastry as my recipe for Chicken, Wild Mushroom and Sage Pie shows.”

Chicken, wild mushroom and sage pie with goose fat pastry

A one pot pie topped with lovely, crumbly goose fat pastry.

Serves 6

1 medium chicken, about 3lbs/1.4kg in weight

Bouquet garni of sage, rosemary and parsley

2 large shallots

3 cloves of garlic

1 litre of milk

300g salted butter

Large bunch of sage (finely chopped)

Large bunch of parsley (finely chopped)

2 courgettes

250g flour

1 tbsp wholegrain mustard

Pastry

200g plain flour

1 pinch salt

1 egg

80g goose fat

20g butter

To make the pastry:

(This pastry is very crumbly and short, so don’t worry if it doesn’t roll out perfectly.)

Place all the pastry ingredients in a food processor (make sure the fats are cold) and pulse once or twice. Now bring together into a ball by hand and wrap tightly in cling film. Leave the pastry to rest in the fridge for 2 hours.

To make the pie:

Poach the chicken in a large pan by covering the bird with cold water and placing on the heat until it is simmering. If you wish you can add some salt and peppercorns to the water.

When the chicken is tender (for a 3lbs/1.4kg chicken this will take about 45 minutes), remove from the broth and keep the stock for future use – it freezes very well.

Now cool the chicken and pull of all the meat from the carcass. Keep the meat in good sized chunks – it improves the pie’s texture.

Finely chop the garlic, courgettes and shallots and gently soften them in a small amount of the butter in a heavy pan on a low heat. This will take 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the white sauce. In another pan, melt the remaining butter and mix in the flour. Cook very gently over a low heat for 5 minutes.

Then add the milk slowly until the liquid is smooth (if you run out of milk, add some of the chicken stock).

Add to the white sauce, the softened vegetables, the mustard and the finely chopped sage, then season to taste.

Stir in the chicken gently and add the chopped parsley.

Pour the mixture evenly in several small pie dishes or alternatively a large pie dish.

Preheat the oven to 200c.

Roll out the chilled pastry quickly and carefully and cover the chicken mix in the dishes. Brush the pastry with a beaten egg and bake at 200c for 30 minutes.

Serve with a green salad and Chablis.

Click on the link for more information on cooking with goose fat and more recipe ideas, or contact the Goose Fat Information Service on 0207 631 3232.

Let me know if you try Mike’s Chicken Pie recipe and what you think.

National Steak Week In UK

National Steak Week will run from October 12th to October 18th and will basically try to encourage everyone to eat more steak.

The British restaurant Beefeater is celebrating it’s 35th birthday this October and to celebrate 35 years of chargrilling they are launching National Steak Week so that the nation can indulge in their love for steak.

The week will be a celebration of all things steak, from the juiciest rumps, to the tenderest sirloins and the meatiest T- Bones and with a choice of 12 sauces, such as peppercorn, béarnaise and Argentine speciality ‘Chimi Churi’ there is something to suit all meat eating tastes!

Beefeater are also running a promotion giving anyone who is 35 during National Steak Week the chance to get a free meal. So if you are are celebrating your 35th birthday between 12th-18th October or just want want to celebrate all things steak then why not check out Beefeaters.

RSPCA BBQ Source Campaign

This Summer the RSPCA launched the BBQ Source campaign, which focused on making people aware of issues surrounding animal welfare, especially when shopping for meat for the barbecue. The campaign offers help and advice to welfare-conscious consumers who don’t want to forget the ‘source’ of their meat when cooking on the BBQ.

RSPCA BBQ Source Campaign

RSPCA BBQ Source Campaign

As part of the campaign, a survey was conducted and found that 72% of respondent’s buying decisions were price dependent. Many consumers’ view higher welfare meat to be expensive, but the RSPCA’s shopping guide also includes tips on how to shop on a budget. To help show the importance of buying higher welfare meat the RSPCA has developed a shopping guide which provides useful reference guides to food labelling, recipes as well as addressing the key issues surrounding animal welfare, such as growth rates and living conditions of the animals.

“With around 93%  of the population eating meat, we know that people’s buying habits can have a very direct influence on how farm animals reared for meat are raised. That is why we feel it is so important that as many people as possible are informed about and encouraged to choose meat raised to higher welfare standards,” said Mel Andrews, campaign manager for the RSPCA.

“If more people go out of their way to choose or ask for welfare-friendly food such as RSPCA Freedom Food labelled products, more of the 900 plus million animals reared for food each year in the UK will be raised under higher welfare standards,” she added.

“Price can sometimes be seen as a barrier when buying higher welfare meat, and this is where the RSPCA’s online shopping guide can come in handy,” adds Andrews. ” You can still save money when buying higher welfare meat by preparing the food yourself, getting the portions right and using up leftovers for another meal the next day.”

According to the government funded ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ campaign which sets out to encourage shoppers to make the most of the food they buy, and waste less of it, in the UK we throw away the equivalent of 33 million chickens and 3 million pigs per year. This is a waste of money and animals’ lives.

The  ‘BBQ Source’ RSPCA campaign website provides:

  • lots of barbecue-related hints and tips,
  • a shopping guide with information on what labels to look out for when choosing higher welfare,
  • price comparisons,
  • ideas on how to use leftovers,
  • a portion calendar to help cut down on food waste,
  • information on the key welfare issues affecting farm animals.

Next time you are planning a BBQ, checkout the ‘BBQ Source’ RSPCA campaign website.

Chicken Rillette Sandwich

I was sent an email from Becky @ Impact Agency with a recipe for a Chicken and Green Peppercorn Rillette from top chef Henry Harris of Racine.

To make the rillette Henry poaches luxurious shredded chicken in goose fat, garlic and sea salt. He then combines this seasoned meat spread with the sharp flavours of capers and tarragon to make this highly satisfying sandwich! I can’t wait to try it with this mouth watering introduction.

Chicken and Green Peppercorn Rillette

You will be left with extra goose fat after making the rillette but this can be used for making excellent roast potatoes.

500gm boneless chicken thighs, skinned

Sea salt

1 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tbs green peppercorns (the wet variety in brine)

1 tbs chopped fresh tarragon

250gm goose fat

Season the chicken thighs with sea salt and place them in a saucepan along with the garlic and goose fat. Warm over a gentle heat until all the fat is liquid and then give the pan a little stir so all the chicken is covered with the goose fat. Cover and poach gently for 45 minutes or until the chicken will fall apart readily when pulled apart with a couple of forks. Do keep an eye on it during the cooking process to make sure that they don’t cook too fiercely as this will dry out the chicken and could make the fat too hot.

Strain the chicken in a colander, collecting the goose fat below in a heatproof bowl. Transfer to a tray and loosely shred the chicken into chunks. Add the green peppercorns, garlic and tarragon and mix through the chicken until evenly distributed. Transfer this mixture to a bowl and add about a third of the goose fat so that everything resembles a nice dry jam like state.

Pack this down into a clean bowl and refrigerate until the next day.

Henry Harris©2009

Chicken Rillette, Radish and Caper Sandwich

Take a slice of good rustic sour dough bread and spread on a goodly layer of the rillette mixture. Sprinkle over a teaspoonful of capers and a couple of radishes that have been finely sliced. Finish off with a couple of leaves of crisp iceberg lettuce and a final slice of the bread.

Lightly toast the bread first if you prefer.

Henry Harris©2009

For more recipe ideas or information visit www.goosefat.co.uk

Let me know what you think of this sandwich.

Pork Brawn – Recipe

Last week I made pork brawn and was unsure of the results but I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised.

Pork Brawn

Pork Brawn

Ingredients

  • 1 pig’s head
  • a couple of trotters – preferably back trotters as they have a little more meat on them.
  • 1 bay leaf
  • mixed herbs
  • mixed spices
  • 1 onion
  • lemon juice


Method

Here is my method which I have adapted after reading Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s recipe.

  1. Cut the head and trotters into smaller pieces so that they fit in a large pan.
  2. Cover with water (salt can be added but I decided not to add any to my brawn).
  3. Add bay leaf, herbs, spices and pealed/chopped onion.
  4. Simmer the content and for the first half an hour remove any scum that floats to the top of the pan.
  5. Simmer the contents for about 4 hours.
  6. Remove the head and trotters – at this point I decided to just use the meat on the head and trotters and not the ears, skin, eyes or nostrils. I did use the brains which require you to remove the outer skin.
  7. Mix the meat and brains together and place in a dish.
  8. Add a dash of lemon juice and some parsley.
  9. Strain the stock and then boil up until the stock has reduced.
  10. Spoon a couple of spoonfuls of the stock over the meat and then refrigerate until set.
Pork Brawn Served With Chutney & Toast

Pork Brawn Served With Chutney & Toast

Eat the brawn cold with mustard or chutney.

My husband and I ate the brawn with toast and damson chutney and English mustard.

The brawn had a strong pork flavour and the sweetness of the damson chutney mixed with the strong mustard taste made the meal very enjoyable.

In future I am going to cook a belly pork joint and add that meat to the brawn to increase the quantity of meat.

Click on the image below to visit Amazon.co.uk to find out more about this book or visit one of the Farming Friends Bookshops.

Pork Brawn

  • Pork brawn is a type of meat jelly.
  • The meat jelly is made from pieces of pork from the head and trotters of the pig.
  • The trotters also help to give the stock gelatin to help the brawn to set.
  • All parts of the head can be used to make prok brawn.
  • The head and trotters are simmered in water (often salted and can have extra herbs, spices and onions added for extra flavour) until the meat falls from the bone.
  • The meat is stripped from the bone and skull and the jelly stock is strained and then reduced down further on the heat.
  • The meat and stock are mixed and then added to a contain and refridgerated until set.
  • Pork brawn is usually served cold and not reheated.
  • The brawn can be served as a cold luncheon meat and is particularly good with mustard or pickle.
  1. Hi Sara, thanks for taking me back to my childhood. Of course my Mum would often make pork brawn. A rather large head sitting in a huge pan, hairy nostrils and all. I remember I used to get morsels of the tasty tendorised meat as it fell off the bone. I remember mum used to put in herbs which included bay leaves. Yes it was served cold, after setting in a mould, although I remember not being too keen on eating it this way. x

    Comment by Louise – March 24, 2008 @ 8:21 am

  2. Great minds think alike, Sara

    I am just about to venture down the pigs trotter/ pigs head route. Wish me luck!

    Comment by Cottage Smallholder – March 24, 2008 @ 9:00 am

  3. hi my name is adam and i was just asking if you sell pork brawn in bulk, because i am having a stall at a hog roast and i throught that it would aproupret to have pork brawn at the hog roast.
    thanks.

    Comment by ADAM FOUNTAIN – September 22, 2008 @ 6:26 am

Roast Quail

Roast quail is quick and easy to prepare.

  • The quail takes about 30 minutes to roast in a medium to hot oven.
  • Add some water to the tin as this will help to keep the meat moist and succulent.
  • Cover the tin with foil for the first 20 minutes and then remove for the last ten minutes so that the quail can brown off.
  • One quail will provide enough meat for one meal and two quail will make a very substantial meal for someone with a good appetite.
  • Half a quail can be used to make a roast quail starter.
  • The quail meat is succulent, tender and moist.
  • It is very flavoursome meat.
  • Quail is a game meat but it does not have a strong game taste to it.
  • I would recommend quail meat.