London’s diners: here’s a challenge for you - time to put your money where your mouth is, wean yourself off bland chicken breasts and boring fillet steaks and embrace more adventurous meat-eating. In a survey for the Jellied Eel by Toluna you told us you’d be more likely to eat offal if it tasted better, or if you knew how to cook it. Now there’s a chance to go and sample what delicious unloved cuts are cooking in the capital, during ‘Nose-to-Tail Fortnight’ in May.
The fortnight is part of a campaign to educate London’s chefs and restaurateurs about the values of cooking with less-loved cuts of meat, and to promote these dishes to the public. It will see over 20 of the capital’s restaurants introducing specials featuring more unusual cuts to their menus from 1 May, with delectable dishes on offer such as deep-fried lamb sweetbreads with shallot and caper salsa at The Cinammon Club in Soho.
“The campaign helps chefs to think about meat in a more complete way, encourages them to learn the necessary butchery and cooking skills, and prompts them to use the whole animal so less food is wasted,” says Sustain’s Duncan O’Brien, who is running the campaign. “We know nose-to-tail makes more sense environmentally, and that exploring different foods and cuts makes eating more interesting. The question is; are people willing to change their habits? We’d love to help influence attitudes and behaviour, and increase the market for offal and other unloved cuts in the capital.”
One restaurant supporting the campaign is Manson in Fulham, where head chef Alan Stewart has been advocating nose-to-tail eating for some time. “It’s important to have respect for your ingredients, especially meat,” he says. “If you’re going to kill an animal you have to use as much of it as possible and ensure there’s no unnecessary wastage.” As well as sharing his knowledge at a nose-to-tail workshop for chefs and restaurateurs at the new Central Street Cookery School in Old Street in March, Alan also recently played host to the judging of the Jellied Eel’s love your local sausage competition (see box), sausages being another great way to use up less loved cuts.
Of course, Alan admits, there’s more work and thought involved in using unpopular cuts. “But I’m glad the guys in my kitchen are picking up these important skills,” he adds. “As lamb is in season we’re serving lamb sweetbreads with pearl barley and wild garlic as a starter, and turning the leg meat into a confit, which we serve with the loin, breast and crispy belly meat for a main course.”
For more information on Nose-to-Tail Fortnight, go to www.ethicaleats.org
For a full interview with Alan Stewart go to www.atoasttofood.blogspot.com
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