Why your local shops still make the cut

John Buckwell, pictured in his butchers shop in Osborne Road, Southsea.   Picture: Allan Hutchings (110916-697)
John Buckwell, pictured in his butchers shop in Osborne Road, Southsea. Picture: Allan Hutchings (110916-697)
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It’s National Butchers’ Week and time to celebrate a traditional high street trade.

But John Buckwell thinks it’s important to promote his industry all year round.

For the Southsea butcher, spreading the word about the value of the local independent shop is an important part of his work. And catching audiences while they are young is vital.

‘We’re doing a few things for National Butchers’ Week but really it’s ongoing for us. We had children from Portsmouth Grammar School in last week making sausages,’ says John, who has been running Buckwells of Southsea for nearly 25 years.

‘It’s good PR for us, but it’s also important that children know where their food comes from and have an introduction to their local butcher.’

The week – organised by the Meat Trades Journal – aims to raise awareness of and support for butchers throughout the UK.

John says Buckwells is as busy as ever, but the general decline of the local butcher’s shop in favour of the supermarket is a modern problem.

In recent years, though, things have been changing slightly as savvy home cooks turn back to high street shops and farmers’ markets.

‘People want to know more about their food and where it comes from. If they go to a local butcher’s, they’re dealing with the person who has sourced the meat. We can tell them about it and where it comes from,’ says John.

He says people are also becoming more interested in butchery. ‘They want to learn about the different cuts of meat and know how to prepare it,’ says John.

For National Butchers’ Week, Buckwells is running a raffle with a butchery lesson as the prize. But for those who prefer their cuts prepared, there is still plenty to learn from these masters of the meat trade.

Try a meaty recipe for National Butchers’ Week

Thai Lamb Broth

Serves 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

450g/1lb cooked roast lamb or beef, cut into strips

10ml/2tsp oil

45ml/3tbsp green Thai curry paste

2 small sweet potatoes or parsnips, peeled and cut into small chunks

1 x 400g can coconut milk

300ml/ half pint good, hot vegetable stock

15ml/1tbsp Thai fish sauce, optional

10ml/2tsp caster sugar

100g/4oz mushrooms, sliced

50g/2oz peas or green beans (halved, if used)

100g/4oz cherry tomatoes, quartered

Freshly chopped basil leaves, to garnish

Method:

1.Heat the oil in a large non-stick pot (with lid) and warm the lamb or beef with the curry paste for 1-2 minutes.

2.Add the sweet potatoes or parsnips, coconut milk, stock, fish sauce (if used) and sugar. Stir gently. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes.

3.Add the mushrooms and peas (or green beans). Adjust the seasoning if required and cook for 3-4 minutes.

4.Divide the broth between four bowls, and garnish with the tomatoes and basil.