Monday, 17 December 2012

Empire Farm Butchery & Charcuterie School

If you are searching around on the internet on where to go for a butchery or charcuterie course, then  could be the place for you.

You can get the chance to work with Organic and Traditional Rare Breed pigs of which the school is well known for rearing and using.

Learn how to smoke your foods such as fish, meat and cheese using a range of smokers including the Pro Q range. We will also demonstrate on how to use indoor smokers too!

Empire Farm is an 100 acre plus organic farm but also diversifies in the making of prestige poultry huts and equipment all from recyclable materials. The farm also boasts some wonderful holiday accommodation, where you can stay and get involved with the feeding and cleaning! The farm is only a 5 minute walk from Templecombe village railway station which is on a direct line from London Waterloo to Exeter. This makes it particularly easy for those travelling through the Home Counties and to those who visit us from overseas

Catch up on the latest books on charcuterie in the market place including French & German printed books (don't worry Marc-Frederic will translate), we have a small library collection of butchery & charcuterie books for you to browse. Marc-Frederic's book is available at however if you attend the butchery school he can personalise a copy for you on your visit.

See, touch and taste the ever increasing collection of salts from the market place, plus learn how to make your own variations of flavoured salt including lemon salt, vanilla salt, seaweed salt and more.

Learn how to operate the Bradley smoker in both cold & hot smoking modes. (open the door and you'll probably find your lunch will be being hot smoked in this one) We can also teach you how to build your own smokehouse if you prefer to be smoking on a grander scale.

Learn how to butcher meat by breaking down carcasses or primal joints and gain a traditional skill that can be past down to your children.

Don't be surprised if you end up eating what you butcher, cure or cook at the school, for it is often your lunch.

We will teach you filleting skills which will enable you to then cure whole fillets of fish ready for smoking.

Or maybe you would prefer to learn how to make a Gravadlax, in order you can impress your family and friends.

On the Game days we teach you how to skin and butcher animals such as deer and rabbit, also how to pluck and dress feathered game such as pheasant and partridge. If it's in season, then we will probably be using it in class.

At the farm and depending on the time of year, you have the chance to see the various animals that are reared to be processed through the butchery school.

Learn how to make such items as Ballotines and Galantines with your reared birds, or how to make a 3 bird roast.

Learn the different methods of how to prepare and butcher poultry including trussing with and without twine.

Maybe you wish to make some prosciutto from your ducks or geese or maybe some rillette, what ever your desire is with farm reared food, the probability is we make it here at .

The most popular gift trend at the moment is Vouchers, so why not consider purchasing your partner, friend or relative a voucher that can be placed against any of the offered courses either in part or in full.

Go on, surprise someone today and put a smile on their face :-)

Friday, 9 November 2012

National Sausage Week

What have you been doing this week ?

Thursday, 4 October 2012

A Fair Price !

I don't normally get on my soap box and preach about politics, but recently whilst teaching a group of butchers and smallholders the subject of money came up for the price of pigs. The smallholders and producers were explaining that they were on my charcuterie course as a last lifeline to stay in pig production, for they were not able to sell their pigs for a price that met their production costs, so they were looking at charcuterie as a means of staying in business by adding value to their products.

We know the high street butcher is in direct competition with the supermarkets and it is he we would prefer to shop with, however is he prepared to pay the producer a fair price for a local traditional free range and possibly organic pig? It seems not! For one butcher in my class explained he currently pays £1.96 per kilo dead weight for a delivered commercially reared carcass to his premises from his local abattoir. Explaining further he informed us that local producers sometimes go to him and ask him to purchase their locally free range pigs of which he agrees; except he is only willing to pay the same price as he does for his commercial pork, is that a fair price? He also explained as the producer walked into his shop hoping to sell his pigs, the butcher felt he was in the best position to dictate the price and almost with some glee explaining he now has a better quality pig than he could normally buy and for a cheap price. Ok you could say that this is the hard facts about business, but where does that leave us?

The producer explains he can no longer breed and rear his traditional and sometimes rare breeds of pig and decides to go out of business and get himself a job in a factory or supermarket (then the breed faces possible extinction). Another producer decides selling to the butcher at a price less than he can produce is bad business and decides to become a butcher himself and to compete with the high street butcher (not good for the high street butcher).

Had the high street butcher paid a premium for the locally reared pig, he could then designate that high quality pig to charcuterie thus bringing a handsome profit to his business by selling to the customers who would have been shopping elsewhere (don't create your own competition).

I personally have for some years been paying £3.50 per kilo dead weight for my pork to use in my charcuterie projects as I know I can quite easily get a return of anything from £750 and upto a thousand pound from a 100 kg dead weight pig. We need butchers to become charcutiers, there is a market for both the commercial and the locally reared pigs, don't put them in the same basket, if a pig producer is happy in the return he gets from pig carcass sales he is less likely to undergo training to become a butcher himself. If he does become a butcher I will guarantee it won't take him long to become a charcutier aswell.

In summary we need the supermarket, we also need the high street butcher and we definately need the producers including those that sell at source including at the farmers markets. A polite message to our high street butchers, " Instead of taking a pound for your pocket today, think about investing a pound for tomorrow, for you never know it may just pay you back when you need it most and probally more!"

Excuse me whilst I step down from my soap box - Thank you (rant over).

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Manx Charcuterie

Earlier this year I was asked to visit the Isle of Man to offer some butchery and charcuterie techniques, having visited the Island before some many years ago, I was delighted as I knew I would be in for a treat and quickly accepted the invitation.
I was expecting a pig to work with, not a chicken! Where's the pig? (private joke)
On the first day of the demonstration we discovered that the pig was still in the back of the chilled delivery wagon getting a tour of the Island, hence starting with some techniques using chicken.

However we did not have to wait long for our host Andrew, sped off in his car to meet the pig and the delivery driver in one of the neighbouring towns, albeit the neighbouring town is almost on the other side of the Island. Well done Andrew for tracking down the pig!

The reason I was asked to visit the Island and pass on some of my skills, is that some of the Island's top eateries had got together and pooled their resources in order to receive some charcuterie training.

You see it can be difficult and expensive to import to the Island the many products we take for granted, so the logic of making as much as you can yourself can be the difference between loss and profit in a small business.

Happy mincing!

Being able to butcher your meat in your business will allow you the flexibility to choose the cuts you want and will save you a huge amount of money in buying specific cuts from your supplier.

Here is our Bed & Breakfast host boning out a leg of pork ready for curing into ham.

Taking out the Aitch bone

Another female chef who skilfully butchered this pig middle ready for curing into bacon.

Sausagemaking was the main act on day two with comedy to match some of the best comedians.

The task of linking the sausage proved easy for this bunch of catering professionals.

These chefs, restauranteurs and business owners talk to each other and discuss up and coming menus, so they don't offer the same dish in their eateries in the same week. As business competitors I have to say I have not witnessed such unselfish acts, but then again I'm not a Manx!

Shiring hog casings!

Having now learnt how to make their own Chorizo, this will be another product less they will have to rely on importing.

Even one of the Islands schools is rearing pigs such is the growing interest in charcuterie.
Dad, your'e making me laugh, turn away!

Filling Chorizo
Tying off the Chorizo

These guys also went onto learning about Galantines, Rillette, Crepinettes and much more Charcuterie of which they practised and put on their restaurant menu's, even the B&B now serves up it's own home cured bacon.

I was thrilled to have been asked to visit the Isle of Man and meet some of it's producers and albeit I was feeling dissapointed about leaving so soon, I was soon cheered up at the prospect of returning sometime soon to do it all again!

Here I include a few websites of some of those businessess that took part: