Posted on Wednesday, 13th April 2016
We attended a butchery class at Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa at One New Change.
The restaurant has a small section cornered off behind black curtain walls for such events. Dimly lit, with a few tables laid out and a shelved wall filled with a range of whisky bottles, we were drawn to a large table in the centre: a large chopping board, butcher’s knife and bone saw with a spotlight above, literally setting the stage for what was to come.
Whilst we eagerly waited, glasses of prosecco were served and there were portions of crispy pork crackling at each of the tables to whet the appetite. Moroccan spiced lamb puff pastries followed: rich and hearty lamb shoulder, smoked for 14hrs and densely packed into puff pastry. This was tender, flavoursome meat, complemented well by a zingy romesco dipping sauce.
Following this were beef involtini – rare Scottish fillet rolled in lettuce leaves with pickled wild mushrooms, served on tarragon mayo.
The lamb arrived and the resident butcher for the evening introduced us: a black head, about 6 months old, weighing 22.7kg from Plantation Pigs in the South Downs, medium fat. All this information is available for each lamb sold at Barbecoa butchers, emphasising the importance of having respect and a closer relationship with the meat that we buy and eat.
What followed was an informative butchery lesson where we learned the art of butchering a lamb for retail cuts. Not only were we able to recognise familiar cuts we have eaten in the past (i.e. chops, shank), we were also able to learn about less familiar cuts and their use.
The resident butcher took his time as he expertly produced and explained each cut, ensuring the finish was of the best quality, as if he were showcasing each cut in his shop’s window. In between preparing each cut he would share high level knife skills, describing how the tip of the knife played an important role to achieve precision at times.
The final output was a beautiful display of individual meat cuts laid out on the table. It was very impressive to see the apparent ease at which the butcher cut the whole lamb, the skill was unquestionable especially when he confirmed certain records such as cutting around 1.8k single chops for one event.
To some people a butchery class may not necessarily work up an appetite, but at this stage we were both dreaming of the dishes we could rustle up at home with many of these cuts. As we planned future dinners, we were greeted with more prosecco and canapés throughout the evening:
Taramasalata (whipped smoked cods roe) was served on crackers garnished with leafy radish. Short rib croquettes – a first for us! When we think of croquettes, it brings us back to Spanish tapas where you have the creamy mash in the middle mixed with bits of jamón. In a way, we expected to find a creamy mash mixed in with bits of short rib. However, we were surprised to find an incredibly meaty bite of shredded short rib which had been cooked for 18hrs – evident from the juiciness and the flavours. So in this instance, we did not miss the mash, but we wish we had more of the chipotle and lime mayo dipping sauce that it was served with.
Spiced chicken tulips – great fun and we wondered if we could replicate at home. It involves chicken wings where the meat is pushed to one side, leaving a side of the bone as a handle, and creating a tulip on the other end. The chicken wings had been brined and coated in a spiced crumb, served fried with blue cheese ranch dressing.
Last but not least, we were surprised with a brief cocktail class preparing the Barbecoa Blazer: Apple & Cinnamon-infused bourbon, orange, cherries, maple syrup and aromatic bitters. The bartender coolly poured the flaming alcohol across containers as he made the drink. The final output tasted like Christmas and was far too easy to take down.
The final dessert style canapé was luckily light (we certainly had more than seconds of the rest of the canapés!): a rhubarb gin granita, which was a refreshing way to end the evening.
The icing on the meat cake was the goody bag we got to take home though: lovely cuts of lamb accompanied with marinade/rub, and a small bottle of pre-mixed Old Fashioned to enjoy whilst cooking we can only expect! The butcher was on hand to provide cooking tips to us all for each cut of meat.
Being a special bloggers event, we won’t provide likes and dislikes, however we can provide testament and praise to Barbecoa for their attitude and care for the meat they procure and butcher, and also how well we were hosted that evening. Whether you are interested in sampling some fine meat from their menu, or are interested in holding an event there, we think you will be in expert hands.
Note: A guest post by O&M – husband and wife brought together through their mutual and growing appreciation of food and travel. Their conversations revolve mostly around food and their trips abroad include walking itineraries to as many food venues as they can fit in. In their spare time they are slowly eating their way through London and the World before their metabolism takes notice.