Herefordshire beef and beer
PUBLISHED: 12:58 16 July 2010 | UPDATED: 04:22 06 February 2013
Martin Griffiths sources Herefordshire beer and beef and gives it a spicy twist
Heres the beef and the beer
Martin Griffiths sources Herefordshire beer and beef and gives it a spicy twist
When the American politician Walter Mondale famously asked his rival Gary Hart: Wheres the beef? in his election campaign of 1984, then the answer should have been easy: In Herefordshire.
Herefordshire farmers produce fantastic beef and you can find it in many of the countys top butchers, restaurants and pubs. We also produce great beer as well as cider and wine; so all we need to do is light up the barbecue and arrange for the weather to be good.
The county has some of the best traditional grazing in the country and so much of the quality beef we produce comes from these ancient fields. The diversity of grasses and clovers adds essential richness to the animals diet and offers an environment for a host of insects and forms of wildlife. If the animals are able to grow slowly and eat a varied natural diet they are going to be more relaxed, enjoy the space to roam and exercise and produce better, tastier, tender meat.
Beef is an especially versatile food and besides making summertime burgers and kebabs it is brilliant when stir-fried in a wok with combinations of vegetables, chilli, honey and splashes of oyster and black bean sauce. In winter it makes the base for innumerable forms of roasts and sustaining stews.
Like so many of the countys butchers, Herefords Neil Powell take great pride in both the animals they use and how they are raised. The traditional skills of cutting the meat are aided by hanging the beef for 21 days in specialist fridges that control the temperature, the humidity and the air flow. As Dave Jones, manager of the Widemarsh Street branch explains: How you raise your animals and look after the meat is so important. We prefer to use heifer beef because of its tenderness and all our beef is raised on grass out at John Morriss farm at Willersley Court. Its the quality of the grass out there that enhances the flavour.
I have found some exceptional beef and ale pies sold in Legges of Bromyard and Wallers of Ledbury. These are packed full of tender meat and are nothing like some other gravy-filled commercial concoctions. If you are off travelling or having a picnic this summer then they can make the perfect companion.
However, its when you decide to light up the barbecue that beef really does come into its own. You can of course make your own beef burgers, or pop into your local butchers and see what they have to offer. Out at Easts of Brecon youll find a gently spiced Herefordshire Burger that uses beef raised out on their own lush fields just a few miles outside of town. James East is the 24-year-old who is pushing forward with plans to sell as much home-produced meat in the family shop as possible. This family business is now 100 years old and James is looking to invest in the best possible stock to guarantee the meat he sells is of the highest quality. He is looking to use predominantly pedigree Herefordshire cattle as he not only likes their temperament but also reckons the short-grained meat tastes better. You can also find his meat being used by some of the areas top pubs, including Castlefields at Clifford and The Saracens Head at Symonds Yat.
If you are putting some beef on the barbie then you might decide to marinate it first and add flavour all of your own. You will certainly need something to drink and what could be better than a few bottles of Herefordshires top beer made by the Wye Valley Brewery? The range of bottled beers includes delicious full-bodied golden ale with a light hoppy flavour called Dorothy Goodbody and if you fancy a pint of prize-winning Butty Bach it can be found in many of pubs.
Wye Valley will be celebrating its 25th anniversary with a race night at Hereford racecourse on August 18.
This happy breed
The traditional Hereford breed, with its distinctive white face and red coat, has been around for centuries and the genetics have been exported worldwide. It is calculated that that there are now five million pedigree cattle in the world in more than 50 countries. Herefords are known for their good temperament, a trait which eases management and improves operator safety as well as producing less stress during marketing, which in turn improves meat quality. They are natural grass foragers, good breeders and adaptable to different environmental conditions. Herefords finished on grass produce marbled beef of exceptional quality. If you cant source locally try the herefordcattle.org website or visit www.pureherefordbeef.co.uk.
This site offers a meat postal scheme, which is run by the Lewis family, breeders of the Haven Herefords at Dilwyn.
The Great British Burger
There are two very simple ways to guarantee you get a great burger for the barbecue
1 Simply buy high quality ready-made burgers from a reputable source such as your local butcher, farm shop or farmers market. There is no comparison between those shabby, grey, chewy concoctions, which come out of some frozen packets and a quality burger made by a good Herefordshire butcher
2 Make your own burgers from the best quality beef mince you can find. The quality of the meat you use is reflected in the quality of what you eat; so dont skimp on the ingredients. Making burgers is childs play, so encourage the kids to get involved in the process. Adding a selection of finely chopped or grated vegetables to your mince mixture gives crunch, colour and more complex flavours and inserting thin slices of frozen spicy/herby butter between two burgers before sealing the edges creates a big fat, flavour-filled burger.
The Ballard Burger
Inspired by a conversation with the young American chef, Ian Ballard who was visiting his family in Herefordshire this year, this recipe includes a selection of coarsely-ground seasonal vegetables and a hint of spice.
You can use ready-made mixtures and I find KK Ventures spicy sauces excellent
450g lean beef mince
2 slices of good quality bread
1 large onion finely chopped
1 red pepper finely chopped
1 courgette finely chopped
1 large tomato finely chopped
2 beaten eggsfinely chopped
1 small piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic, peeled andcrushed
1 dash of Worcestershire Sauce
20ml garam masala
1 dash of whole grain mustard
Salt and freshly ground blackpepper to taste
Small pinch of salt
1. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and combine well
2. Cover with cling film and lightly chill before moulding the burgers into the desired shapes and sizes. Use slightly damp hands to aid the moulding process and be sure to wash all your hands, boards and utensils well
3. Store the burgers, covered in cling film, in the fridge before using. This will help them retain their shape
4. Cook for around 6-8 minutes and serve with summer salads, spicy relish and chilled beer
Seasonal Summer Salad
Many combinations of salad leaves will work. A good mixture of colour and flavours always helps and the salad dressing recipe allows you to give the mixture an extra bit of a taste buzz
50g small spinach leaves
50g strawberries finely sliced
50g lettuce leaves
50g yellow courgette cut intostrips with a vegetable peeler
50g fresh rocket
1 small red chilli thinly sliced into circles
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Juice of one lime
This fruity marinade recipe works really well with steaks and on beef kebabs
50ml olive oil/rapeseed oil
Juice of one orange
Juice of one lemon
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
30-40 ml finely chopped fresh herbs suchas coriander/flat leaf parsley/thyme
Zest of a lemon finely chopped
30-40ml white wine
Salt and freshly milledblack pepper
Mix all the ingredients together in a non-metallic bowl and add your meat before mixing well, covering with cling film and preferably marinating overnight in the fridge. Remove any excess marinade before placing the meat on the barbecue as this reduces flames from the coals