This isn’t really a recipe, it’s too simple to call it that. Think of it more as an idea. An idea about where you buy your meat, what you buy and what you do with it. Way back when I was a country kid, a supermarket was not the place one sourced meat. In fact, I can’t even remember whether the OK, the only supermarket in town, had meat on its shelves. Nope, for meat one went to the butcher.
I remember the wooden swing-door with its gauze to keep the flies out. I remember the large squares of snow-white paper used to wrap our purchase. But most of all I remember patiently waiting while Mum had long conversations with the butcher. What did he have today? What was the best way to cook it? I should have been bored; I was utterly fascinated.
Over the years I’ve witnessed the demise of many butcheries. We all head for the supermarket these days and I find that so unfortunate. Yes, it may be convenient. But the quality is largely rubbish and the cuts so incredibly basic, unimaginative and samey. Chops. Steak. Ribs if you’re feeling really exotic. And little blocks of stewing beef or lamb, from heaven knows which part of the animal.
I too am guilty of slipping something anaemic-looking sandwiched between polystyrene and cling film into my shopping basket on occasion. But meat is expensive, so I really want it to be a feast when it is on my plate. And for that, folks, you need to find yourself a good local butcher and have a conversation – about something like brisket.
You’ll find brisket in your supermarket to be sure – sliced thin and meant for soup and stews. How dreary. This chesty part of the cow is such a treat when cooked low and slow. I ask my butcher to make me a brisket roll, and I pot-roast it on a layer of root vegetables. What emerges after three hours is juicy and soft enough to eat with a spoon. Mash works well with pot-roast rolled brisket. But I have a fondness for samp with rich beefy cuts, because that’s how we did it way back in a small country town.