Tast­ing notes

Her­itage breeds pro­duce su­pe­rior-tast­ing meat, and ac­cord­ing to one award­win­ning butcher, the more we buy them, the more farm­ers will rear them

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - Contents - Amy Bryant

In praise of her­itage meats

‘WE CALL THEM her­itage breeds rather than rare breeds, oth­er­wise peo­ple think we are killing off an en­dan­gered species,’ says Andy Ca­vanna of Farmi­son & Co, the meat-de­liv­ery com­pany based in York­shire that was crowned on­line busi­ness of the year by the Farm Shop and Deli Awards, and has a cup­board full of Great Taste Awards.

Her­itage, then, is what they pre­fer to call the pedi­gree breeds of cat­tle, sheep and pig that are na­tive to Bri­tain and that they source for their steaks, roast­ing joints and multi-meat boxes: the an­cient and hardy, ruf­fle-coated Gal­loway, which pro­duces flavour­some beef that’s nat­u­rally low in fat; placid Large Blacks, one of the coun­try’s old­est pig breeds; and Shet­land and Suf­folk sheep. In­deed many herds are so small that they re­main on the Rare Breeds Sur­vival Trust’s dan­ger list. ‘Some can be quite dif­fi­cult to find,’ says Ca­vanna. Cus­tomers can’t call up and cherry-pick a breed un­less it’s avail­able at the time, but the more they are in de­mand, the more farm­ers may be en­cour­aged to rear them. Farmi­son works with four cat­tle farms in north York­shire, and is plan­ning a breed­ing pro­gramme for one first-gen­er­a­tion pig farmer, Rowan Simms, whose small quota of Large Blacks turned out to be one of the largest in the coun­try.

As for the meat, it ar­rives fresh and tastes in­cred­i­ble: well-mar­bled and doorstop-thick pork rib-eye steaks on the bone; burg­ers en­riched with bone mar­row. Even the chicken, grass-fed and reared slowly, pro­duces juicy meat to linger over. farmi­son.com

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