If the past 12 months have taught us anything, it’s about the importance of community. This is one of the things being highlighted in National Butchers’ Week, which started on Monday and runs until Sunday (8th to 14th March).

It’s about celebrating retail butchers that have supported communities during the Covid-19 pandemic, they being one of the retailers which stayed open throughout.

It would be an understatement to say chefs love butchers; in fact we rely on them for our livelihood, well those of us who are not vegetarian or vegan chefs that is.

The butchers we love the most though are the ones in our own communities; the ones we use when we are not at work.

We’re talking about the independent butchers, those businesses which have been handed down from generation to generation. In many cases they will have been in the same location since they started; perhaps they have even managed to open another shop or two, but it all boils down to sourcing the best meat for their loyal customers.

If you think we’re being a little sentimental, well we are.

Let’s put it to the test. Go and buy a chicken breast from a supermarket and one from your local, independent butcher and compare the two. One will look almost double the size of the other and we think you can guess which one that is. Hint, it’s not the supermarket!

Granted, the supermarket chicken may be cheaper, but it’s probably also been injected with water to make it look bigger – and even with this it won’t be as big as the one ‘sans water’ you get from your butcher.

Aside from the appearance and quality, by buying meat from your local butcher, you are supporting a local business and this supporting your local community. Supermarkets are still great by the way but they won’t close just because you decide to buy your meat somewhere else, however your local butcher is probably in need of every penny.

So, when it comes to meat, shop local – the butcher closest to you has earned it!

Last week, we referenced the sight of the first lambs of the season, so it seemed apt, with National Butchers’ Week in mind, to use lamb in this week’s recipe.

Slow cooked spring leg of lamb with chilli and cheddar brioche hot cross buns

Slow cooked leg of lamb:

  • 1kg leg of lamb
  • 40g oil
  • 2 white onions roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic clove
  • 6 sprigs of rosemary
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 30g mint sauce

Heat up a large frying pan with the oil in, Season the leg of lamb and seal all the side of the lamb leg. Take out a put to one side, add the onions, garlic and rosemary and fry till golden brown. In a large stock pot place in the leg of lamb and onion, garlic mixture. Top up with cold water and place on a medium high heat bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer till the lamb meat falls off the bone.

Pick the meat of the bone and place to one side. Leave the pan which has had the leg cooking and keep reducing the cooking liquor till thick. Place the meat on a chopping board and roughly chop. Mix the meat in with the cooking liquor and the mint sauce. Put to one side.

Brioche hot cross buns:

  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 100g grated extra mature cheddar cheese
  • 10g salt
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • 50g sugar
  • 100g warm milk
  • 10g yeast
  • 220g butter (softened)
  • 75g plain flour
  • Water

In a kitchen mixer with dough hook attached add all the ingredients together apart from the butter. Turn the machine on a medium speed and knead the bread for 10 to 15 minutes, after that time the bread should be smooth and elastic.

Keep the bread kneading while adding small amounts of the butter at a time until it’s all combined. Place in a container and put in the fridge to chill for 2 hours. Once the dough is chilled Ball into 75g balls and place in a deep baking tray making sure the dough balls fill the tray.

Place somewhere warm covered with a damp cloth and allow to double in volume, once doubled mix 75g flour with some water to make a paste and pipe on crosses on the buns,  bake for 30-45 minutes till golden brown. Allow to cool.

Pickled red cabbage:

  • 300g finely shredded red cabbage
  • 500g white wine vinegar
  • 150g sugar
  • 10g salt
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • 10 black pepper corns
  • 10 coriander seeds

Bring to boil all the ingredients apart from the red cabbage. Once boiling add the red cabbage take off the heat and cover with cling film, this will allow the cabbage to cook and pickle. Leave to cool.

To finish:

Cut the buns in half and build the sliders by packing them with the juicy lamb, pickled red cabbage and a layer mayonnaise and lettuce.

Chris Brown
About Chris Brown
Sous Chef of SK Foods.
Your food. Our Passion.