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Making the most of meat

In recent years, adverse weather conditions, increasing world demand and rising fuel and labour costs have all contributed to the fastest rate of food inflation since records began. Of course not all these costs can be passed directly onto the customer, so for caterers the impetus is now firmly on sourcing cost-effective ingredients

Quality Standard logosMeat carrying the Quality Standard Mark guarantees animal welfare, provenance and good eating quality

According to both EBLEX (English Beef & Lamb Executive) and BPEX (British Pork Executive), there is huge potential to exploit a range of alternative, cheaper cuts of beef, lamb and pork, which will compromise neither the quality nor taste of the meat. It is important to remember, however, that the issue of provenance remains key. In particular, when it comes to meat, traceability is becoming increasingly important.

“Using more cost-effective cuts of Quality Standard beef and lamb means that caterers – and their customers – can continue to take confidence from all the assurances that come with the EBLEX Quality Standard Mark, including high levels of welfare, confirmation of provenance and guaranteed eating quality,” says Hugh Judd, EBLEX foodservice project manager.

Steaks, for example, are an important feature of most menus yet prices remain high. A lower cost option is the ‘flat iron steak’, taken from the feather muscle. While these are usually slow-cooked, by using careful seam butchery the feather can produce a quality steak that is incredibly tender and flavoursome. For something slightly different, ‘flat iron escallops’ can be created in much the same way.

Similarly, ‘lamb rosettes’ are taken from the shoulder – an under-utilised primal cut. All these cuts also lend themselves well to marinating so are ideal for grilling and pan-frying.

Pave (Heel)

Hugh Judd continues: “By using more of the carcase, caterers stand to benefit from paying lower prices for cuts that not only provide excellent plate coverage, but also deliver great flavour.”

Raising the steaks

EBLEX master butcher, Dick van Leeuwen, has teamed up with chef Pierre Koffmann to launch a new range of Quality Standard steaks using seam-butchery techniques on under-used primals, such as the heel muscle and diaphragm.

All 12 steaks in the new range are matured for a minimum of two weeks and deliver no less in terms of eating quality, succulence and tenderness. “We wanted to ensure that the steaks would meet customer expectations and we feel confident that this range will deliver on all counts, as well as offering excellent profit margins for chefs,” says Dick. “In fact some of the cuts could be mistaken for fillet, they cook so well.”

A brochure featuring the new steak range has been produced that includes tips on cooking and serving steaks along with detailed cutting specifications for each steak.

Why not add interest to your menu by naming the source and breed of your meat? Also, whether it is ‘free range’ or ‘outdoor reared’. Today’s customers like to know about the dish they are eating and, in particular, where the ingredients were sourced.

For a copy of the brochure phone 0800 781 4221 or download it from www.eblexfoodservice.co.uk.

Free Beef & Lamb Purchasing Guide

For further information on lower cost quality cuts of meet contact EBLEX, which has brought out a comprehensive manual for beef and lamb products in the marketplace today. The Guide contains over 220 cuts of beef and lamb each with their own unique identifying code and visual reference for ease of use. One copy of the Meat Purchasing Guide is available FREE (subject to postage and packaging costs) exclusively to EBLEX Quality Standard scheme members.

There are no costs involved in becoming an EBLEX Quality Standard scheme member. You simply have to get your meat from one of EBLEX’s approved catering suppliers. In return, EBLEX will provide you with marketing support and advice on how best to promote your beef and lamb dishes.

For more details or to request a copy of the Guide, call the scheme hotline on 0800 781 4221 or visit www.eblexfoodservice.co.uk.

Going the whole hog

Cuts of pork taken from the forequarter, such as collar and belly, tend to be hugely under-rated, but they can be used to create delicious dishes that will not only hit the spot for customers, but also offer excellent value for money for caterers.

“Pork taken from the forequarter is extremely versatile, succulent and tasty especially when cooked slowly,” says Tony Goodger, foodservice trade manager for BPEX. “What’s more, forequarter pork complements a wide range of ingredients from seasonal fruits and vegetables, to ales, ciders and even seafood for something extra special.”

PorkBelly pork is an excellent cut of margin-rich pork that makes a delicious meal when roasted and served with crisp crackling. Alternatively, the versatility of the increasingly popular collar of pork means this cut can work on menus at any time of year suiting warming dishes in the winter and lighter dishes in the summer.

“Caterers should be aware that 70 per cent of pork sold in the UK would actually be illegal to produce here, as our farmers adhere to higher welfare standards,” adds Tony. “By sourcing pork that carries the Quality Standard Mark, caterers can be reassured that the meat they are using is fully traceable, produced to high standards of welfare and will ultimately produce a tastier and more satisfying dish for customers.

“Not only that, but you’ll be showing your support for Britain’s pig farmers who are struggling as a result of rising feed costs. The industry has been hit so hard that many have been forced to close down their business. Long-term effects on the farming industry could mean chefs would only be able to buy imported pork, which may have been produced to standards that are illegal in the UK.”

Quality Standard PorkPork Tips

BPEX has developed a series of booklets and DVDs to help caterers make the most of Quality Standard pork, including The Foodservice Guide to Selling Pork on the Menu. For a free copy, contact BPEX on 01908 844114 or email foodservice@bpex.org.uk.

Visit www.porkforcaterers.com – an excellent website for the foodservice industry where you can find a good selection of recipes, information on the Quality Standard Mark and a whole lot more.

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