I’ve been meaning to write this post for some time. A while back a couple of mates and myself went along to Hardiesmill Farm for their 10 Steak experience. We’ve used Robin & Alison Tuke’s excellent produce for years now and with their farm being a short hop over the hill from our kitchen at Newton Don Home Farm it’s nice to have such an amazing resource so close to home.
My dining companions on the day were made up of a retired couple who had booked separately, Simon the BBQ freak and Murphy the Street Food geek. Between us all there was a lively inquisitiveness and basically a rattling hunger to devour 10 Steaks of prime Aberdeen Angus. The day started in Robin & Alison’s kitchen where we were introduced to their range of Charcuterie by way of a light lunch.
Robin purchased the Tombuie Smokehouse a few years back which makes for a happy alliance between the Pedigree Aberdeen Angus herd, the Farm Butchery and their Farmer’s Market Stalls (Not to mention the direct sales they make to Hotels & Restaurants). This innovative Smokehouse produces fantastic smoked beef, cured beef, various carpaccios, smoked lamb, smoked chicken and of course smoked cheese. With this array of goods we probably all ate more than we should and a very enjoyable lunch was had. Amongst the bits and pieces we got to try was some Smoked Leg of Lamb which was used by the Scottish Team in the Bocuse D’Or. Robin and Alison can list their clients amongst some of the most prestigious in Europe, The Orient Express, Ritz Hotel London and Greywalls to name a few.
Whilst we were all busy munching on the fayre, Robin and Alison gave a very informative talk explaining the various quality assurance classifications for Beef. From Scotch Beef to Pedigree Aberdeen Angus there is a somewhat convoluted ladder of classifications giving lead to a fair amount of grey areas.
Question: When is Scotch Beef not Scottish Beef?
Answer: When it’s been raised outside Scotland and imported in for finishing on Scottish Farms before being killed in a Scottish Abattoir – Scotch-by-proxy. That’s not to say all Scotch Beef might be questionable in it’s provenance. Most of it is high quality, it’s just not as verifiable as you might believe.
Question: Does the Aberdeen Angus Mark mean I’m eating pure Aberdeen Angus Beef?
Answer: No, At worst it means your eating 50% Aberdeen Angus as the beast only needs to have been sired by an Aberdeen Angus Bull. In the case of American Black Angus (As is sold in Tesco) the beef only needs to be 63% Black “Anything”. A mixed breed sold a premium pedigree price!
Question: So what makes Hardiesmill Pedigree Aberdeen Angus Special?
Answer: Breeding, Feeding & Handling. It’s a small farm so it makes sense to have a business model that seeks to produce the highest value out of our stock and resources. In terms of Breeding, bloodlines are followed carefully to develop a pure 100% Aberdeen Angus herd. The Feeding regime is pure grass or hay with very little supplements during over wintering in the sheds – this allows the beef to grow at a slower, more consistant rate. Hard Feeds such as grain, typically used in winter, can cause greater water retention, rapid growth of fast twitch muscles and a shrinking of the ruman (First Stomach). This Changes the beasts metabolism and when Spring arrives and they are put out to feed on grass and yet another change in diet causes more stress. All this effects the quality of flavour and texture you get in the finished Beef. Taking extra time to transport the beast to the abattoir also helps. We split the journey into two days to reduce stress and avoid build up of adrenaline in the beef. The result is a product that has a consistently high quality with a rounded flavour and long finish that lingers on the palate.
After having been given the low down on the farming process and the various routes to market Hardiesmill take we wandered across to the farm shop and butchery to meet Lee. He gave us a master class in butchery explaining the differences between traditional butchery and mass market meat cutting. Hardiesmill are famous for producing and suppling lesser know cuts of beef to the UK market. They are one of the first contemporary Scottish supplier/producers of Ongelet, Bavette, Thick Rib & Carbonade Steaks as well as the more widely know cuts. Lee would later show us how he cuts out False Fillet (or Glasgow Fillet as it is sometimes known) from the fore section.
This demonstrates the ecology and economy the culture at Hardiesmill. From nose to tail, beef is used up in charcuterie, pies, expensive cuts like the Carbonade (Sold at Greywalls for a mouth & eye watering £100 when available) and old housewives favorites like the false fillet.
The Ten Steak experience itself was an absolute joy. To sit down and to be really able to appreciate everything that has gone into producing this feast of carnivorous delights was a superlative moment. Luckily everyone enjoyed their steaks rare so trying a little bit of everything was not a problem. From bavette, to feather steak and onto carbonade and fillet. The natural saltiness and depth of flavour of the beef was fantastic. I personally enjoyed the Fillet the most which surprised me as I’ll always order Ribeye in restaurants. The super expensive Carbonade steaks, which are equivalent to the “oysters” on a chicken, located in a niche of the shoulder and forerib offer some of the most tender “lazy” meat. It’s basically a big fat muscle that does no work and so never get’s tough. I recommend extending your knowledge of the variety of steaks available. The process of going through a structured tasting of them all taught me a lot about how the flavours of beef behave and gave me a greater appreciation for some of my favorite food.
We regularly use produce from Hardiesmill and the Tombuie Smokehouse in our catering for a chance try them for yourself either contact Robin at:
Tel: 01573 410797
Or book us for your event, where amongst other things we can provide our celebrated Carpaccio Cipriani with Red Mustard Frill as one of the many products we use in our Canapé Menus.