There are two good reasons to visit your local butcher’s shop in the next couple of weeks.
One is the fact that it’ll soon be National Butchers’ Week (March 25-31), an event dedicated to promoting the importance of your local shop.
And the other is the good old-fashioned bacon sarnie.
We’re in the middle of Bacon Connoisseurs’ Week and that means the opportunity to devour the nation’s favourite ‘guilt’ food with no shame whatsoever.
The Red Tractor quality assurance organisation, which organises the week, has declared it Britain’s top snack so there’s no need to worry about that ketchup-drenched sizzling treat.
Emsworth butcher Richard Treagust says your local expert is more likely to serve you a good quality product, so there’s every reason to shop at a proper butcher’s shop before making your bacon butty.
‘You can have it cut to a certain thickness and have smoked, unsmoked, streaky. You can buy bacon just the way you like it and you can also find out where it has come from,’ says Richard.
There have been health concerns regarding processed meat in recent years, with some reports suggesting that it could be linked to cancer. But many experts say it’s a case, like most things, of eating it in moderation.
Richard, the owner of family business H.H Treagust & Sons, says buying a good quality product that has less preservatives and additives is the way forward.
The curing of bacon stems from a traditional preserving process and there are different methods – dry cured, wet cured, maple cured and sweet cured. Sweet cured bacons are best found at farm shops.
Richard says a reason to shop at a butcher’s is being able to discuss the product and find out where it has come from.
‘It’s about traceability, knowing that it comes from a good producer who doesn’t use flavour enhancers and other things. More people want to know where their food has come from and I think that’s great. A lot of people these days are looking for free range and organic.’
He sources pork from Scott Free Range in West Sussex and organic lamb from Dorset.
Many butchers’ shops have struggled because of the convenience of supermarkets, so Richard is proud of the fact that Treagust’s has been in the family since 1920.
And he would encourage people to go to their local shop wherever they are.
‘It’s a much more personal service. We know most of our customers by first name. People feel happy to ask for advice and we can give it, telling them the best way to cook things and encouraging them to buy different cuts.’
Sweet cured bacon hash provides a warming meal
200g sweet cured, streaky bacon rashers
2 large potatoes, skin on and cut into small chunks
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
100g spring cabbage, chopped into large pieces
50g purple sprouting broccoli, well trimmed
1 shallot, sliced
1. Place the potatoes and carrots in a large pan of boiling water. Cook for 10 minutes, before adding the cabbage and broccoli and continue to cook for a further five minutes.
2. Place the bacon rashers and shallot in a large frying pan and cook until the bacon becomes crispy. Meanwhile, drain the vegetables and either mix together or mash to combine well. Preheat the grill.
3. Add the potato mixture to the pan and roughly spread out. Dot with the butter and season with pepper. Place under a hot grill and cook until browned.
4. Serve straight from the pan or turn out onto a plate and cut into wedges.
Serve with your favourite ketchup or chutney, or make a nutty herb pesto by whizzing together some hazelnuts, olive oil, seasoning, basil, mint and parsley.
Recipe from lovepork.co.uk