Game On - Yard on the Edge 13th November

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As you know, we haven’t organised a MeatClub for a while due to various other commitments. The ones we did were gaining in popularity, word was spreading and they even attracted the attention of The Guardian Word of Mouth Blog.

The idea of MeatClub was never to make money or to promote ourselves, we simply wanted to offer meat lovers the chance to meet local high street butchers and learn more about various animals and different cuts of meat in a social dining environment.

Our Twitter account is still going strong and we use it to promote a number of similar and interesting butchery demo events all over the region.

Now we’re well into the game bird season, one such event has come up that we thought you might be interested in and it’s game on!

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You might recognise the chap above as Coronation Street’s Jim MacDonald, aye so it is. What you might not know is that actor Charlie Lawson is also a licensed gun carrier, expert game enthusiast and co-owner of Prestbury Farm Shop outside of which he can be found behind the BBQ most days.

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Charlie will be joining forces for a GAME NIGHT with Arthur Potts Dawson who, though perhaps not quite a household name himself, has worked in some jaw-droppingly awesome kitchens over the past 21 years. 

Starting with a three year apprenticeship with the Roux brothers, he then worked with culinary luminaries such as Rowley Leigh at Kensington Place, and Rose Gray & Ruth Rogers at the River Café. He then went on to restyle Petersham Nurseries Cafe, and re-launch Cecconi’s restaurant, before becoming executive head chef for Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Restaurant.

Arthur has been asked to host a series of relaxed, interactive monthly social dining and cookery demo events at Yard on The Edge in Alderley Edge. This will be the third ‘Open Kitchen' event with last month's being a sausage making demo with Julian from Pig and Co and cider from our friends at Moss Cider.

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As we have held two MeatClub events at Yard on the Edge and this Open Kitchen is a particularly meaty one, we said we’d help to promote it.

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Game night with Charlie Lawson and Arthur Potts Dawson is on Wednesday 13th November at 7pm at Yard On the Edge, 32 South Street, Alderley Edge, SK9 7ES.

Charlie will bring along a variety of game birds and will give a brief talk about game in general whilst Arthur demonstrates how to pluck, draw and butcher the birds and cook a variety of more interesting game dishes.

Guests will then sit down to dine on some of the dishes Arthur has demonstrated during the evening.

The evening is meant to be relaxed and sociable so questions are encouraged and volunteers are more than welcome to have a go at game butchery or try a bit of cooking.

Tickets are £25 and can be purchased directly from Yard on the Edge on 01625 586 962. Book now as places for this event are limited.

MeatClub Wrexham

We went further afield for MeatClub#6, crossing geographical borders into Wales. It turns out that the Welsh like chopping up animals, drinking beer and eating meat too.

The ultimate point of setting up MeatClub was to encourage butchers and venues to put on their own events and for us to support them via social media and through the central website – like a meatier version of the Clandestine Cake Club with knives and booze.

We always wanted this to go national so we really should have called the project MeatClub Nation with only the starting point being in Manchester. Sorry.

That said we got a call from Ian Rowley who runs French Flavour and is based in Wrexham. He told us that there was some funding support by Wales Union Learning Fund (WULF) and Unite to ‘encourage and support learning’. He’d seen our previous events and asked us to come over there to show the Welsh some MeatClub love.

To set up a MeatClub, all we need is a venue, a butcher, a couple of brewers and an animal. Ian put us in touch with The Plassey, a Caravan Park and craft & retail centre set in 247 acres of magnificent park and woodland with its own restaurant, deli and onsite brewery. Tidy.

The pig was a large white female cross, approximately 4-5 months old supplied and lovingly raised by Mike Ford at Pen-Y-Lan pork. Mike had already delivered half the beast to The Plassey kitchen where Chef James had been busy preparing some pork dishes for us to try. The other half was packed on ice ready to be broken down for the butchery demo.

Mike actually has a ‘proper’ job, but his passion for pigs lead to a smallholding where he raises pigs from which he makes and sells sausages and dry cure bacon. He makes a small range of sausages containing 88% pork, to provide that succulent old fashioned pork taste you can’t get from the mass produced versions. Mike only uses the four best parts of the pigs in his sausages - shoulder joint, leg, pork chops and belly pork, and uses all natural skins, so you know you’ll be eating great food and not sweepings from the abattoir floor.

You can find Mike’s sausages at several local monthly farmers’ markets around Cheshire and North Wales as well as local events and festivals. You can also order direct through his website.

He’d brought along his favourite butcher Chris from D and J Thomas, one of Wrexham’s finest family butchers who have been providing customers with quality locally reared Welsh meat for 35 years and operate their own abattoir guaranteeing full traceability. Chris began his butchery career at 13, becoming an apprentice when he left school before joining D & J Thomas 6 years ago.

Like any good butcher the meat just seemed to separate from the bone into neat joints by a simple flick of the knife. It wasn’t until people got up and had a go themselves, that they could truly understand the years of experience it takes to make it look so simple. Chris and Mike happily answered everyone’s pork based questions and people actually cheered when Chris expertly removed the leg from the rest of the carcass.

After munching on some freshly made pork scratching, guests all moved downstairs to visit the bar and The Plassey Restaurant where James and his team had prepared a porcine feast featuring dishes such as sweet and sour pork, aromatic pork ribs, pork meatballs, squares of slow cooked pork belly, seared tenderloin escallops, pulled pork tortilla wraps, pork tenderloin with red onion marmalade on salami, a rich pork and bean casserole, a pressed offal terrine and spoonfuls of good, old fashioned brawn.

To wash it all down, we took advantage of the fact that there was an Plassey Brewery onsite. Guests went back upstairs to the function room for a talk from head brewer Jack Hamby who briefly explained the brewing process, what goes into a typical brewer’s week and what goes into their range of beers and stouts.

Finally it was the turn of Mark Roberts from Wrexham Lager, which, he told us was actually Britain’s first lager producer and even supplied the White Star Line – and the Titanic (although they did close between 2000 and 2011).

The brewery was originally founded in 1882 by German immigrants Ivan Levinstein & Otto Isler who wanted to recreate the lager from their homeland. They chose a site in the west of Wrexham, next to the river Gwenfro, and dug deep cellars to insulate the brew and keep it cold enough to mature. Read all about the brewery history here but Mark also let slip some exciting news about their future. He casually mentioned that they’d been filming all day and have been planning some exciting super brew with none other than top Michelin Starred Chef Heston Blumenthal.

So once again, we’re glad to have had the opportunity to visit a great venue and shine a light on some talented local producers, giving them a chance to tell their story and show people what they can do. Please try and avoid the supermarket and buy local. As we said, tidy.

MeatClub#5 WILD BOAR 29.05 with butcher Simon Chapman

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MeatClub has been a real learning experience, which is fine as it was set up as a social education project. To be honest though, when we decided to do MeatClub#5 with Wild Boar we expected a huge, fierce looking, hairy beast with yellowing tusks sharp enough to make a hunters sphincter twitch.  

Our wild boar was a rather pretty looking 15 month old gilt from Arley Hall. Much more lean and slender than expected, she arrived shaved apart from a few tufty bits under the fore quarters, like the porcine equivalent of Julia Roberts.

A few days previously, butcher Simon Chapman had removed the loin with surgical precision and sent it off to be hot and cold smoked at The Cheshire Smokehouse 

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We served cold smoked wild boar on celeriac remoulade to guests as they began to arrive.

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There was a full house at our venue, Yard on The Edge, a deli, butchers, cafe, juice bar and flexible event space in Alderley Edge which was the venue for our first MeatClub back in January.

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Simon brought out half a pig carcass as well so guests could see the difference between that and a wild boar regarding muscle to fat ratio and the different depth of colour in each animal.

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The vibe at this MeatClub was relatively relaxed and sociable so people were invited up in groups to get a closer look or to have a go at cutting the meat themselves - under the ever watchful eye of Simon, our professional butcher.

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Never wanting our Meat Club guests to go thirsty, or miss the chance to help promote some of our local brewers, we invited Gregg Sawyer along to talk about how he brews his excellent beers at Tatton Brewery in nearby Knutsford. Our friend Charlie The Wine was also there to make sure wine lovers were catered for with the delicious southern Australian Shiraz he had brought along to compliment the wild boar dishes.

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Gregg had brought along two Tatton Ales for us to try, the award winning light, amber Tatton Best and 'Ruck & Maul', a dark, smooth English Porter and one of their seasonal range.

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As Wild Boar and apples are well known friends, we thought this would be a great opportunity to spread the word about the brilliant Moss Cider Project. We had given Dan and Joe two washing baskets full of apples we’d picked back in September and they magically turned them into 20 bottles of 'Cider Pony' for us (well, actually, for MeatClub as it turned out). See their website for how you can get more involved in this project.

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As wild boar is used in many traditional Cypriot dishes, we asked George Hadjiyiannis Head Chef and owner of local Wilmslow restaurant The Stolen Lamb to create a few dishes for guests to sample.

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George brought along some Zalatina, shredded Wild Boar snout, ear and cheek set in disks of it’s own jelly.

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He also brought along a smaller version of the excellent 'Bandit's Breakfast' starter they serve at the restaurant which is made from smoked leg of wild boar. Guests also tucked into some Greek sausages George had made wrapping wild boar with garlic and herbs in pig’s cawl and some straight up barbecued wild boar chops with apple sauce.

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Thanks again to Joby from Anti Limited for letting us use his excellent photographs. Click here to see his Flickr stream for more images of the event.

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Butcher Simon Chapman is available for private butchery demonstrations or events. Feel free to contact him via Twitter.

Save the date for MeatClub#6 which will be on June 25th at The Old Sessions House, Knutsford with a rare breed pig from Julian at Pig & Co, a sausage making machine, cocktails on a meaty theme with mixologist Callum and some hearty banter from top Cheshire chef David Mooney.

Click here to book your place.

MeatClub#5 - WILD BOAR: The Beast of Alderley Edge

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Alderley Edge, an ancient place of mystery and legend, and the perfect place to make a pilgrimage for #Meatclub5 and learn about WILD BOAR - the ancestor of the domestic pig.

We’re back at Yard on the Edge (the venue for the original MeatClub#1) where we’ll be teaming up with their resident butcher Simon Chapman. He’s managed to get hold of a wild boar from Arley Hall, Cheshire and he’ll be demonstrating how to butcher the beast whilst giving us insights into this mysterious, fearsome and powerful creature.

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Parts of the boar will have been sent off for smoking at the Cheshire Smokehouse and will be BBQ’d on the night. There will be also be some real boar salami and hot & cold smoked boar to try.

MeatClub is thrilled to have secured the services of the talented George Yiannis from The Stolen Lamb in Wilmslow to provide us with a few authentic Cypriot wild boar dishes. Many of his recipes have been carefully passed down through generations of skilled Cypriot family cooks. He’ll offer us the chance to try dishes like Zalatina - a wild boar mosaic using brawn, as well as the ‘Bandits Breakfast’. 

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All this will be washed down with a haul of local cider made for us by The Moss Cider Project. They have turned the two washing baskets of apples we gave them back in September into 20 bottles of cider and we’d like to share them with you. Dan will be on hand to tell you more about the project and how you could get them to make cider from your apples.

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We will sample craft ale from local guest brewers Tatton Brewery - a family business based in Knutsford. Head Brewer and company owner Gregg Sawyer has combined a custom built modern brewery with a revived historic yeast. Together with his years of experience he produces internationally renowned recipes to brew some of Cheshire’s finest beers.

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Tickets are £30 - including food, drink, the butchery demo and talks from the brewers. They can be bought directly from Yard on the Edge in person or over the phone 01625 586 962. They can also be booked via our Eventbrite page (with a £2.45 booking charge.)

Date - Wed 29th May

Time - Starts 7.30pm

Venue - Yard on the Edge, 32 South St, Alderley Edge, Cheshire SK9 7ES

MeatClub#4 – English lamb on St George’s Day with LEE FROST

In the early 15th century the tale of St George was marked by a major feast and national holiday in England, on a par with Christmas. Blades, dragons and blood - what better day to hold Meatclub? We tried and failed to get hold of dragon meat so decided to mark the occasion instead  with English lamb, an English butcher, English sparkling wine and English craft ale.

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The venue was The Parlour in Chorlton, current holders of the Observer Food magazine’s Best Sunday Lunch. To set the scene for the biggest MeatClub to date,the furniture was rearranged to make way for a proper butchers table and a crowd of 50 carnivorous enthusiasts.

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As each MeatClubber arrived, they were handed a bottle of ‘Headless’ to get the party started - a refreshing floral pale ale made by Red Willow Brewery, Macclesfield. Everyone was also offered pickled lambs tongue with spiced apple chutney. Anyone reluctant to try was soon won over by the tender, velvety soft texture of the lamb tongue accented by the sharpness of the pickling vinegar.

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Butcher Lee Frost had brought along a female Texel lamb from Cheshire which lay prostrate in frilly caul fat bloomers awaiting his attentions. Frosty decided to go for the pluck first showing us the heart and the offal – kidney (with suet), liver and sweetbreads (a much more poetic name for what is actually the thyroid gland). He briefly explained the terms used to class male and female sheep of different ages such as gimmer, webber and tups. He also exposed some little white lies told by butchers and chefs to up sell the more basic cuts – another name for a shoulder of lamb is NOT ‘front leg’ and lamb has a breast, never a belly.

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Lee then asked a volunteer to help de-bone a shoulder and mince it for one of the dishes we’d be eating later. It caused much hilarity as Frosty threw various innuendos at him with a near straight face “as you ram your meat in, be sure to push it all the way in.” Lee then split the forequarters, removed the breast, which was de-boned and rolled for the kitchen.

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A break in the butchery allowed us all to sample some Nyetimber 2008 Classic Cuvee, whilst Michael Bush, regional sales manager for this award winning English vineyard, explained how their delicious sparkling wine is produced.

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It was also time for some more lamb-tastic food, and so entered trays of lambs liver with sticky onions and port served in pastry, sweetbreads wrapped in streaky bacon with cauliflower puree, and devilled lamb kidneys on toast.

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Then our butcher was back expertly dividing the lamb carcass into more recognisable cuts, demonstrating how to trim the cannon and lamb cutlets. Questions were encouraged and everyone came away understanding more about what to look for in quality lamb and how to bring out the best when cooking different parts.

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Whilst the kitchen were busy preparing some more tasty treats, Toby Mckenzie from Red Willow explained how he went from working in IT in London to owning his own brewery. He explained his beer making process, and the creative inspiration behind each flavour and the story behind each of their names.

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The next round of dishes on offer included thinly sliced seared cannon with parsnip puree, stuffed and rolled lamb breast and perfectly charred cutlets with mint, parsley and roast garlic. Frost was then back with volunteers to de-bone the legs, identify and trim the rump, throw in some more digs at the supermarkets and answer more lamb related questions.image

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Toby then handed round bottles of ‘Smokeless’, a smooth, dark porter with ‘a robust malt backbone’, telling us about it and illustrating how each of his beers differ.

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We were supposed to be sampling some lamb testicles at this point, but there’s been a balls up at the abattoir (news at which made some MeatClubbers heave a sigh of relief.)  What we did get was some excellent miniature lamb kebabs in little paper bags with pitta and hot chilli sauce. No-one ever looks good munching on a kebab, but by then we’d all bonded over blood and bone so it didn’t matter too much. The final dish of the night was an excellent lamb burger with cucumber and mint yoghurt.

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High praise was given to Paul and The Parlour kitchen staff for creating such an excellent rolling program of delicious lamb dishes, much enjoyed by all. Thanks also to Jamie, Ben and Chris from The Parlour for helping us bring the whole event together. To Michael Bush from Nyetimber, Toby Mckenzie from Red Willow Brewery and of course to butcher Lee Frost whose meat knowledge and dirty jokes kept us entertained all evening.

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Thanks to the talented Joby Catto from Anti Limited for the photographs.

The next MeatClub will be at Yard on the Edge on May 29th with Wild Boar and butcher Simon Chapman. See booking details here.

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#MeatClub04 - St George’s Day, English Spring Lamb with LEE FROST at The Parlour, Chorlton

How much do you really know about lamb? When does a lamb become mutton? What is hogget if not a small pig? Which breeds make the best eating and does it make that much difference? And what really are ‘sweetbreads’?

Lamb is the meat of a sheep in its first year. It has such a distinct flavour, if you closed your eyes whilst chewing some, you could identify it anywhere. It’s a meat that adapts to a wide range of cultural cooking styles including Indian curries, Middle Eastern tagines, the British Sunday roast and everything in between.

Prepare your lamb based questions, for they are about to get answered. We’ve teamed up once again with Chorlton butcher Lee Frost on St George’s Day, April 23rd at the award winning Parlour to learn more about English lamb. Lee will demonstrate how to butcher and prepare a whole lamb carcass, cutting it into different parts, some of which you’ll be familiar with and some might be new to you.

                            

Over the course of the evening, Parlour head chef Paul and his team will be preparing a number of dishes for us to try to illustrate how versatile an ingredient lamb can be. Some parts of the lamb are best slow cooked for hours to bring out their tender sweetness and others need nothing more than a quick sear in a hot pan after marinating in garlic and herbs. We’ll be demonstrating how to prepare various parts including the belly, cutlets, shoulder, liver, kidneys, cannon, breast, leg and neck.

We want to keep some flavour combinations back to surprise you on the night but the many bite size dishes that will be on offer on the night range from the traditional (mini lamb shoulder hotpot and devilled kidneys) to the unusual (pickled lambs tongue and the aforementioned sweetbreads in bacon.) Chef Paul and Deanna will be on hand later in the evening to answer any lamb related cooking questions you might have.

                                             

To compliment this lambtastic evening, we have invited local brewer Toby McKenzie from Red Willow Brewery to talk us through some of his classic range of beers and offer samples for comparison and food matching.

If wine is more your thing, we’ve also invited the very first producer of English sparkling wine, Nyetimber – a perfect way to toast St George’s day. A true pioneer, Nyetimber was the very first producer of English sparkling wine to craft wines made exclusively from the three celebrated varieties found in Champagne: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.

                            

So join us again to don the metal gauntlet, slay the supermarket dragon and learn more about why British lamb is some of the best in the world.

Tickets for this event are £30 (plus Eventbrite booking fee). The ticket price includes the butchery demonstration, samples and a brief beer talk by Toby from Red Willow, introduction to award winning English wine by Nyetimber and a range of delicious lamb dishes. Book here now as places are limited.

MeatClub#03 – Where the Wild Things Are: Rabbit and Hare

"And El-ahrairah’s tail grew shining white and flashed like a star. And his back legs grew long and powerful. And he tore across the hill, faster than any creature in the world. And Frith called after him, ‘All the world will be your enemy, prince with a thousand enemies. And whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first, they must catch you, digger, listener, runner, Prince with a swift warning. Be cunning, and full of tricks, and your people will never be destroyed."

Watership Down Richard Adams

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It turns out that whilst some carnivores are happy to grab a shrink wrapped chicken off the shelf, tuck into a juicy steak or roast the leg of a fluffy little lamb, they are still a bit squeamish when it comes to rabbit.

Why’s that then? An association with pets perhaps? An affinity with Watership Down? Or could it be that rabbits, more than any other animal reminds us that animals were once… well…alive?

As we keep saying, the main idea behind Manchester Meat Club is to connect people back to what they are eating, get them to ask more questions about where it came from, source meat more carefully and respect the animal. More than any previous Meatclub, this hands-on approach took no prisoners. 

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Imagine having to feed a family during this freezing cold, late winter weather without transport or shops? We joked about being able to feed yourselves during the apocalypse – but could you? Just how removed have we become from obtaining basic sources of protein?

This recent cold weather had an effect on supply. The snow has caused havoc for many livestock farmers, especially those rearing spring lambs, and rabbits were scarce, probably burrowing deep down in their warrens to keep away from the cold. We had to put out an APB, so thanks specially to Debbie and Charlie from Prestbury Farm Shop and Simon Chapman from Yard on The Edge (Meatclub#01 butcher) who managed to pull fresh rabbits from the hat for us at the eleventh hour.

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Leading the butchery and cooking for MeatClub#03 were James and Nina from The Moocher. James had also bagged a couple of rabbits for us and five brown hares - fine examples of these magical, myth shrouded creatures.

Meatclubbers were welcomed by appetisers of rabbit loin on a toasted croute with The Moocher’s own wild garlic pesto. James explained the physical differences between the animals and gave us a quick insight into the history of these two very different creatures. James explained that whilst rabbit is a relative newcomer to these shores, the Brown Hare is indigenous. The original ‘Easter bunny’, the moon-gazing March Hare, is an ancient British Easter time fertility symbol. Hare is faster and leaner than rabbit, and the meat is gamier and darker.  

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With plenty of rabbits and hares to go round, everyone paired up and watched as Nina expertly demonstrated how to skin a rabbit and how much tougher it was to do the same to a hare. It’s hard to explain the atmosphere but there was an almost primeval fascination and a real natural sense of satisfaction and achievement. The connection between a human taking responsibility and paying respect to the food they were about to eat - certainly the learning experience we were after.

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Once denuded of their fur, Nina explained that 40% of rabbit meat is in the legs and she showed us how to break it down into different parts for cooking. She explained that you can use the liver and the tiny kidneys but showed what to look and smell for to check that they’re fresh. She suggested that the thin belly flesh could be used as a casing to wrap around a filling instead of bacon.

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Everyone crowded round the North Star Deli open kitchen whilst James and Nina explained the simple mechanics of setting up a smoker in your own kitchen. Nina had soaked some of the hare loins in brine the day before and then popped them on a rack in a casserole dish lined with aromatic and gently smouldering wood-chips. 

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Unfazed by flying flesh and fur, Charlie the Wine recommended wines to match. He turned to Italy with an easy drinking, velvety 2010 Moltepulciano Classici Don Zonin at only £7.50 per bottle, showing that you can indeed eat and drink like a 17th century Italian count on a 21st century students budget.

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Nina and James then brought out a succession of inspired dishes. First was the lightly smoked hare loin served with sautéed beetroot and creamy mashed potato.

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Next, a poached ballotin of rabbit and spinach with the liver and kidneys, wrapped in bacon and served on a slice of buttery fried polenta.

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The following dish was a pleasant surprise as Nina successfully combined hare with coffee. James Guard from The Coffee Circle has created a special blend of espresso for them which Nina used to make savoury pancakes stuffed with a chicken farce and the richly dark hair loin. This was served with an earthy celeriac mash and a savoury sauce made with more of the coffee and a touch of whiskey.

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The final dish of the night was a taste sensation, one that will hopefully be in The Moocher’s repertoire when they start producing hot food at festivals and farmers markets. Rabbit in an oriental marinade, dipped in cornflour and deep fried. 

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Many thanks again to James and Nina from The Moocher. Have a look at their website or make a point of visiting them at their regular farmer’s markets. They produce a range of sauces and potted seasonal game using foraged and fresh ingredients. They’re also getting a great reputation for their freshly baked pies, sausage rolls and giant slabs of crispy pork crackling. The Moocher are available for private catering and foraging/cooking lessons for small groups.

Click here to see a full gallery of pictures of #MEATCLUB03.

The St George’s Day MeatClub#04 will be at The Parlour, Beech Rd,  Chorlton on April 23rd, when Lee Frost will be showing us how to break down a whole spring lamb. Chef Paul and his team will be producing a variety of small dishes using pretty much everything from front to fluffy tail.

Keep an eye on @McrMeatClub for booking details.

Meat Club #03 – Where the Wild Things Are

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** CHANGE OF VENUE **

MEATCLUB#03 WILL NOW BE HELD AT NORTH STAR DELICATESSEN, 418 WILBRAHAM RD, CHORLTON.

For MeatClub in March, we’re going down - all the way down to Watership Down. We’re taking a walk on the wild side, and are off into the woods to raid nature’s Spring-time larder.

We’ve partnered up with the hugely talented food foraging James & Nina from The Moocher Foods to celebrate with the March hare and the Easter bunny.

Once they’ve helped us skin and bone the bounty, James will rustle up a dish of ‘rabbit food’ including foraged seasonal spring greens and wild garlic.

Nina will show how easy it is to brine and smoke your own meat. She’ll also introduce us to some surprisingly perfect taste matches - like hare loin with a sauce made using coffee that has been exclusively roasted to their specifications by The Coffee Circle.

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The Moocher Foods are a relatively new operation. You might have seen them at local farmers markets selling their delicious range of potted meat and game, seasonal sauces made from foraged foods, and their huge sheets of crispy pork crackling. James has worked in catering for over 15 years running several award winning Manchester restaurants. Chef Nina trained in London and worked as a teacher in Dusseldorf’s finest cookery school Franz Petzchen.

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Fur and feathers will fly. A hands on butchery demo, food and a glass of wine are included in the £25 ticket price, with more wine by the glass, bottle or case available to buy from Charlie the Wine on the night.

So, if you ever find yourselves lost in the woods on the way to grandma’s house, thanks to MeatClub#03, you won’t starve. Run, rabbit, run.

Venue – North Star Delicatessen, 418 Wilbraham Rd, Chorlton, M21 0SD

Date - Thursday 28th March

Time – 7.30pm

Cost - £25* including a butchery demo, a glass of wine and some dishes prepared from the meat on the night.

Book online here

*plus £2.15 Eventbrite booking fee

A Deer Do - Meatclub #02 Vension with Lee Frost at North Star Deli

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As we’ve said before, every Meat Club will be different. Different butchers, different animals, different venues. It made sense to start MeatClub#01 with beef and it made sense for MeatClub#02 to be closer to Manchester with the most high profile butcher on local social media, Mr Lee Frost.

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Lee is a fourth generation butcher at his family business WH Frost (est. 1890) based in Chorlton precinct, and they supply quality meat to many of the North West’s top restaurants. If you’ve eaten in a Greater Manchester restaurant any time over the past few decades, it’s more than likely you’ve been only one or two degrees of separation from Frosts already.

Apart from being a bloody good night out, Meat Club aims to educate and encourage people to start asking questions about their meat, to understand the differences between cuts and how to recognise quality. A good, local high street butcher is more likely to be able to answer your questions about exactly where it came from. Unlike supermarkets, they’ll also be able to supply you with more unusual items like cawl, offal or bones for stock. Lee is a great example, tweet or call him, and he’ll do his damnedest to find it, or will give you a good reason why not.

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So for Meat Club #02 at North Star Delicatessen, Frosty brought a two year old wild Fallow buck from Yorkshire – shot to order. As this event was partly sponsored by the NW Foodlink Card, we had hoped to get a Cheshire deer raised at Tatton or Lyme Park, but Lee explained that he specifically wanted to show us a wild deer, as the taste and texture are affected by diet and exercise.

Low in fat and full of flavour, ‘venison’ is now the generic term for any species of deer sold as meat in the UK. Deer can be classified as wild, park (reared in herds that roam parklands) or farmed (rearing varies from free-range to intensive). Although wild venison is available most of the year, different species have different seasons. The most common varieties of deer in the UK are Red, Sika, Fallow and Roe. See the BASC website for more details, and listen to this brilliant documentary about it on BBC Radio 4.

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Frost demonstrated how to split the aitch bone, and a couple of eager volunteers stepped up to don the chainmail gauntlet and learn how to break down the saddle, the haunches and flank. Butcher Lee then removed the tenderloin (fillet) and chopped it up finely so Deanna could demonstrate how to prepare venison tartare. At MeatClub#01 we were keen to include some kind of naked flame with a BBQ, but for this we went to the opposite extreme and got people chowing down on raw meat, straight from source.

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Recipe for one serving - Take about 100g well-trimmed venison fillets and finely chop before adding 1 tbsp capers, 3 finely chopped baby gherkins, ½ finely chopped shallot, a splash of Worcester sauce, a tsp Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp ketchup, 3 crushed juniper berries, salt and pepper. For a spicy kick, we also added a tbsp of Delicious Piri-Piri sauce and 1 tbsp chopped tarragon.

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We passed around spoonfuls of the venison tartare whilst Frosty demonstrated boning, rolling and tying the haunch and saddle which Deanna seared in a hot pan before roasting. Whilst the venison was resting (a crucial part of the cooking process) Charlie the Wine gave a talk about wine matching with venison.

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He chose a spicy unoaked Primitivo Luccarelli and a soft, cherry classic Cotes Du Rhone; both of which are available via his website. Feel free to contact Charlie to find out which other wines he can supply, or to hire him for your private wine tasting event.

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Frosty then divided up the rest of the carcass before we all sat down to dine on Roast saddle of fallow deer with truffled celeriac mash, spiced red cabbage and a savoury chocolate sauce. Otherwise known as ‘lush scran’.

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This event was part of a series of food and drink events put on all over the North West in conjunction with the Foodlink loyalty card. Annual subscription is only £9.50 and offers members loyalty benefits, competitions and news about culinary happenings across the region.

MeatClub#03 is planned for March 28th and will be held in conjunction with Corrie’s Jim MacDonald aka Charlie Lawson, a licensed game enthusiast who owns the Prestbury Farm Shop. We’ll be doing something involving fur, feathers and fire.

Watch our @McrMeatClub Twitter feed and this website for more info and booking details.

Click here to see all the photos from the event.

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Meat Club #02 Deer

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In the middle ages, venison was considered the meat of kings and was rarely eaten by the ‘common people’. ‘Venison’ is a bit of a misnomer though, it’s a generic term used to cover a whole range of deer related meat of various species. In fact ‘venison’ used to apply to any game meat including elk, moose, caribou and even hare.

The point of Meat Club is to get people to understand exactly what it is they’re eating. This month we’ve asked Lee Frost, top butcher and gun toting game enthusiast to bring us a deer carcass and break it down whilst talking us through the different cuts and cooking methods.

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#MeatClub02 will be held at North Star Delicatessen, 418 Wilbraham Rd, Chorlton. Arrive at 7.00pm for a 7.30pm start.

Tickets cost £25 each and include the butchery demonstration, some food made from the butchered meat, one glass of wine and a talk by Charlie the Wine on venison/wine matching.

We invite people to come up and have a go at butchering the meat themselves under the watchful eye of our expert butcher. Once the knives have been put away more alcohol will be available to buy on the night.

Payment can be taken in person at North Star or online 

MEAT CLUB 01: Sirloin of Beef. Guest butcher - Simon Chapman

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Any smug pedants amongst you might immediately want to point out that our first Manchester Meat Club wasn’t held in Manchester at all, but in Alderley Edge. The point is, every month we go where the meat is and where the butchers are, but quality, knowledgeable, high street butchers aren’t as common as they once were.

Pre-packaged supermarket meat comes neatly wrapped in cling film leaving a generation of meat eaters at risk of being uneducated and ill-informed with regard to where it actually came from. Meat Club aims to provide a relaxed environment where people can learn about different cuts of meat, ask questions and watch an expert butcher at work.

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Meat Club 01 was held at  Yard on The Edge, a deli, juice bar, butcher, bakery and flexible event space in a converted garage in Alderley Edge. Simon Chapman, their in-house butcher is passionate about what he does and turned out to be an excellent communicator. Having worked for well known local butchers such as Alan Jackson and WH Frost’s, he’s worked his way up from YTS apprentice to skilled craftsman.

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First Simon brought out a hind quarter of beef weighing about the same as a fully grown woman. His knives were so sharp, he almost just had to point the tip towards the beef and the flesh yielded away from muscle, cartilage and bone. Simon explained how to identify the different cuts – sirloin, fillet, porterhouse and T-Bone and soon he’d expertly divided the hind quarter into smaller, more manageable and recognisable joints.

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Next, he moved on to explain the tenderising effect that ageing has on beef, and how moisture content can affect flavour. His personal preference is for a well flavoured juicy steak or succulent roasting joint that has been hung for around 3 weeks, but he brought out 3 similar joints of different ages to illustrate his point. The oldest joint had been hung for 70 days and was covered in a fuzzy bloom, but once that was cut off the beef was rich and dark in colour compared to the younger joints. He seared some steak off on the BBQ so we could taste the difference ourselves.

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Enthusiastic volunteers took turns to don the metal glove and cut their own steaks for the BBQ. Simon did pretty well keeping a straight face whilst we all sniggered at him explaining speed boning and French trimming.

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Then Simon brought out some huge fat alien looking things which no-one correctly identified as the beef kidneys. Under Simon’s guidance, a couple of people had a go at cracking open the suet, extracting the kidneys and trimming out the membrane.

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Chef and food writer Deanna Thomas quickly demonstrated how to cook devilled kidneys - here’s the recipe (Serves 4):

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Trim one fresh beef kidney by removing the white membrane, slice and lightly coat in 2 tbsp of seasoned flour. Melt 25g butter in a pan and when it bubbles, sear the kidneys for 2 minutes on either side. Pour over about 125ml beef stock, a generous splash of Worcester sauce, a large pinch of cayenne pepper and a tbsp of Dijon mustard. Stir and cook for a further 2 mins until the kidneys are cooked and the sauce has thickened.

Serve with plenty of fresh bread to mop up the juices.

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Whilst the kidneys were cooking and the steaks were on the BBQ the group was treated to a brief and entertaining beef/wine matching tutorial with local online wine merchant Charlie Womersley aka Charlie the Wine. Once the knives were safely out of the way, Charlie brought out three wines for us to try that he’d recommend to go with our steak: a Spanish Rioja, a French Claret and an Italian Valpolicella.

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Whilst the steaks were resting we helped ourselves to fresh bread, potatoes and salads before all sitting together at the communal supper table to do some more bonding over beef.

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The Yard turned out to be the perfect space for our first event and everyone came away from the evening having learnt a little more about why it’s better to buy quality meat from a good local butcher rather that just picking some mass produced generic stuff up from a supermarket.

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Click here to see the full set of images from McrMeatClub01

Meatclub02 will be on February 28th at North Star Delicatessen in Chorlton with Lee Frost the butcher and a Cheshire deer. Keep an eye on our Twitter account to find out when we start to take bookings. Places are limited and cost £25. Alternatively, register your interest in the comments below with your contact details and we’ll be in touch.

This event was set up in conjunction with the new Foodlink North West Card. Click here for further details about food & drink events across the North West.