IT CAN’T just be me, surely? I am at the butchers ordering a nice leg of lamb for Sunday dinner when I catch him about to saw the knuckle off.
” Whoa! Stop! That’s the best bit,” I cry and the knuckle hangs limply but still attached. My brothers and I used to fight over who was going to get that. . . as well as a teaspoonful of the blood that leaked from the joint into the runnels of the carving dish.
“It tastes so sweet,” I add and he nods. ” But our customers don’t like it and don’t want to pay for it.”
I sigh – not just because we now have a generation or two who have no idea how to use and eat the grobbly bits of meat – but because he should know me better.
It’s here I come to order breast of lamb because, if it sells at al, it goes to the dog, or give notice I’ll have some cheaper tail-end beef fillet because it’s going to be sliced up for a stroganoff. No point in paying good money for the meat further up the joint. It’ll taste the same.
I try and buy all my meat from a butcher, grobbly bits and all, but cry inside at supermarkets when I see labels telling me the innards of chickens and turkeys are not included “for your convenience.” He or she who cannot make a giblet gravy does not deserve the name of cook.
I am not going to rant on here that if you are a carnivore you respect the animal by eating most or all of it and not just the ‘best bits.’ I like to eat as if there’s a war on and it’s waste not, want not.
I have noticed big loins of pork for sale at The Moor Market for very reasonable prices – from £10-£14. Now one of these will give me some home-made middle cut bacon, spiced the way I like it, plus I can cut up the rest for a roast loin joint for two and still have enough meat left over for a stew or curry.
But hang on,, all these loins have been trimmed of skin and most of the fat. I want my bacon with the rind on because even in my favourite butchers’ it’s been taken off, doubtless for my own ‘convenience.’
This is part of the reason I make my own bacon, as you can see here. I like bacon rinds. They provide fat to fry the rashers and are great to eat crozzled up. Think mini pork scratchings.
So I have to ask for a joint specially cut with the skin left on but boned. I mutter something about people not knowing their meat, expecting the butcher to cluck in sympathy. He doesn’t. ” People like it this way.”
Now, wait for it, this’ll make you laugh: the joints are sold with ‘crackling for free. It’s only the skin and fat which has already been taken off!
While I’m about I ask for the bones. They will still have meat on and make a nice supper, marinated then roasted slowly in a barbecue sauce as spare ribs.*
So that’s bacon, a stew and a nice greasy gnaw on some grobbly bits from one piece of pork for under a tenner.
Call it nose-to-tail eating or think there’s a war on, it doesn’t matter. I know what butcher Cpl Jones from Dads Army might say: “They don’t like it up ’em!” Or should that be, in ’em?
* These are my free spare ribs from the loin of pork. There’s not really a recipe, I marinated them overnight in a mixture of soy and black bean sauces, ketchup, Sheffield Relish, coriander powder and so on, then roasted at 150C for three hours under tin foil. The pan was a bit dry but a few tablespoons of water, some honey and tomato paste stirred in made a lovely sauce.