With ever rising populations and land pressure, I’m not being controversial when I state that we need to reduce the amount of meat in our diets and increase the volume of grain and vegetables we eat.
But for those of us who love eating meat, this is easier said than done.
There are two ways to do this: the first is to use smaller portions of meat in each meal, such as a 50 grams of bacon used to give flavour and texture to a pasta dish or a fresh vegetable salad with a handful of leftover roast chicken or a stroganoff with lots of mushrooms and only a little steak; the second way is to balance a couple of meat-heavy meals a week with several vegetarian ones. I tend to waiver between these, and don’t eat as many vegetarian meals as I should, which is a shame as I adore tofu and enjoy cooking our home-grown vegetables.
If you opt for the second approach then, budget permitting, it makes a lot of sense to enjoy the best quality meat you can afford – a little of the good stuff rather than a lot of the mediocre.
In a recent article in the Guardian, Alex Renton says:
Lamb is a green dream: the most gentle, ecologically, of all the farmed meats we eat. There is no animal more naturally-raised – it’s all free range and the feed just grows at their feet. Sheep don’t need water in the vast quantities cattle require and farming them is in itself a form of recycling: they graze hills and marginal land, recovering nutrients from poor grass and weeds other livestock won’t eat.
The land that will support one cow and calf can take as many as seven ewes and their lambs. And the grassy downs of modern England look as they do largely because of grazing sheep.
The lamb we produce in Britain is spectacularly good. Our climate seems well suited, both in terms of landscape and weather and the resulting meat is a delight.
A couple of months ago, I was sent a selection box of organic Welsh lamb by Graig Farm. Based in Mochdre in Montgomeryshire, the farm has been run by the Rees family since the 1940’s and has been certified as organic since 1999. Jonathan Rees is committed to producing great food “without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers, growth promoting drugs, routine use of antibiotics, and the large amount of additives often used in ‘non-organic’ methods”. Their sheep and cattle graze in grass, clover and herb pastures and their pigs are able to forage in the woods. Ten years ago, they built a processing plant on site, and do all the butchery and processing themselves at the farm.
Delivery was straightforward. The meat was neatly packed in a large polystyrene box and kept nicely cooled with ice packs, however I’d have preferred more ecologically-friendly packaging options such as the British sheep-wool insulation that Paganum use.
My box contained 2 half lamb legs, 2 lamb leg steaks, 4 lamb loin chops, 1 boned & rolled lamb shoulder, 2 lamb chump chops and 1 rack of lamb, all organic, of course. This box is priced at £89.
People often dismiss spending the extra on organic with complaints that organic produce tastes no difference to non-organic. In many cases, that’s true. But there are a host of other reasons to consider organic, including the environmental impact of pesticides and fertilisers, the fact that organic farms are far friendlier to wildlife and, on a more selfish note, the vastly reduced use of additives. And farmers who can’t resort to the easy option of pumping their animals full of drugs focus much more strongly on keeping them healthy by more natural means. That added care and attention often does make itself evident in the taste. Of course, there are regulated controls on feed too, which also have an impact on the final product.
Every cut of Graig Farm lamb we’ve eaten has been absolutely superb. The meat is tender but not mushy, the flavour is sweet and rich, and there’s enough fat running through to keep the meat moist as it cooks. I really could not be happier with the quality of the meat.
For the lamb loin chops, I made a very simple marinade and then cooked the chops in a hot oven for about 25 minutes.
Garam Masala Marinated Lamb Loin Chops
For the marinade, I first combined 4 bay leaves, a piece of cinnamon bark about an inch wide and long, 1 brown cardamom pod and a couple of small green ones, 6 peppercorns and 3 cloves. These were powdered using a spice grinder and then mixed into approximately two cups of full fat yoghurt. I marinated the chops for a couple of hours before cooking.
Try Graig Farm organic Welsh lamb (or any other meat such as beef and pork) for yourself with a special discount code for Kavey Eats readers:
The code gives you 20% off orders over £50 and also includes free delivery. It’s valid until June 30th 2013 and can be used three times per household. Of course, you can pass the code on to friends and family, if they’d like to place an order for themselves.
If you haven’t decided what to have for your Easter Sunday roast, get an order in fast for a superb joint of lamb. The boned rolled shoulder was gorgeous roasted with garlic and rosemary, and the leftovers made wonderful hoisin lettuce wraps and a delicious ragu with pasta.
Kavey Eats received a sample box of organic lamb from Graig Farm.