About some of our regular suppliers and breeds
Dexter - small, sweet and beefy
T-Bones, Belted Galloway on the left, Dexter on the right
Dexter are a native breed originally from the South West of Ireland and thought to be descended from Celtish black cattle. Dexters first arrived in Oxfordshire, England in 1882.
Happily now, off the Rare Breed at Risk register for about 30 years these small hardy beasts are dual purpose, raised for milking and beef.
Taking really well to a grass fed diet (often used for conservation grazing) Dexter’s are medium to slow growing with sweet well marbled flesh. Often quite dark Dexter beef comes to the plate with a great real beef flavour.
Dexters are roughly half the size of a Hereford and can be black, red or dun coloured (the t-bone above was a rarer Dun coloured animal). See the photo above to get an idea of size compared to a Belted Galloway which is generally considered a small breed making the Dexter positively petite, usually only measuring 1m at the shoulders. This Dexter was a healthy 28 month old steer when sent to slaughter. They are a popular small holding animal with herds now scattered throughout the UK. Easy calving, great protective mothers and high milk output combined with the benefit of a great yield and bone to flesh ratio (to the rest of you this means more beef, less waste) so a sustainable cow from birth to plate.
‘The big difference is the muscle fibres. If you’ve got a huge beast like an Aberdeen Angus, you’ve got the same number of muscle fibres but they’re much, much bigger. Because the Dexter is smaller you get very fine graining, which will help keep the flavour. It’s just more intense – it’s like a good wine.’
- Charlie Larkin, Chef - The Marquis
Whitepark from Bickleigh Farm
This is Leonardo, a Whitepark from John Leans closed herd in a beautiful valley near Taunton, he will not be in the counter but one of his older brothers, a 30 month old steer will.
Whiteparks are an ancient and majestic animal thought to be the oldest native to the British Isles recorded in Wales in the 5th century and Irish folk stories for centuries previous. Whiteparks with their natural marbling and amazing flavour helped along by the combination of a slow growing animal that has been predominately pasture fed, a short trip to slaughter and an overnight stay prior to killing with a nice long dry-ageing so it has been hung for at least 35 days before it hits your plate.
Listed on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust as a “category 5 Minority” animal eating these animals supports the farmers that are maintaining the survival of the breed.
Watch John Torode on the BBC's Great British Food Revival or for more information online
"The White Park, a breed I've never eaten before and I had always assumed was purely ornamental, was really excellent: soft, chewy, with that strong, distinctive, almost corrupt flavour of proper beef, like eating an old roué uncle. If you've only had supermarket meat - or don't have uncles - it may come as a shock, but it was the best steak I've had this year."
–AA Gill, Sunday Times Table Talk
The Belted Galloway is a distinguished and rather dapper beast, sporting a thick white band around its middle, most often complemented by a lovely, medium length furry black, belties are also available in dun or red if this suits your field and farm decor better! But we are here about the meat. Belties are a medium sized, hardy outdoorsy type animals that, as with many of the rare and native breeds raise well on grass, mixed pastures and still beef up very nicely on those unused less than prime areas and hills.
Most probably originating from crossing the Galloway and the Dutch Lakenveldar in the 17th century. The Beltie is still popular in Scotland but has spread far and wide with distinguished owners including Sir Winston Churchill (a bit of a theme he also loved the Whitepark). Considered a native breed the Beltie is another RBST “eat it to keep it” success story having progressed of the watchlist. They still need our support so come by to try some.
"A few days ago I ate a roast which I’d like to believe is the taste of beef to come. The meat was a rib of a rare British beast, a Belted Galloway. Cooked alongside it was a pretty splendid piece of Aberdeen Angus, but there was no contest. The Galloway had a silky texture and though it was dangerously red and rare, it was as tender as meat has any right to be, its juices keen and appetising”
– Michael Batemen in the Independent on Sunday
Traditional Herefords from Tom in Herefordshire
T-Bones Belted Galloway on the left, Dexter on the right
Tom farms himself and also sources from a few well selected farmers close by to supply some of London's most meat respecting restaurants. The Butchery will be buying from Tom and dry-ageing the Hereford so you can have a chance to cook the same meat in your own home as used by Stevie Parle at Dock Kitchen and other great restaurants like Moro, Morito, Hereford Rd, Great Queen St, Anchor and Hope and The River Cottage Canteen.
Originating from Herefordshire 250 years ago the Hereford and it's many descendants have spread across the world as this champion forager and tasty meat animal renowned for excellent meat yield on any pasture.
To be called a "Traditional" or "Native" Hereford bloodlines must be native. Hereford meat raised on grass is high in omega-3, well marbled with a real beef flavour. For updates from the farm and other choice and amusing insights keep an eye out on Farmer Toms Llanevan Diary.
For more information on Traditonal Herefords traditionalherefords.org