Butchery Masterclass at Allens of Mayfair

Posted By Kerri

Allens of Mayfair is the oldest butcher’s shop in London having proudly occupied the same site for the last 120 years. The history of the building is evident as soon as you approach the shop but once inside, it’s immediately obvious that this is no backwards-looking kind of establishment.

What’s most striking are the carcasses proudly hanging up in the middle of the shop, ready for butchering. It’s nothing like the sterile atmosphere of the local supermarket, not only can you see the meat but you can smell it too. And it smells good. A little challenging on a Saturday morning, particularly if you’ve over-indulged the night before but a good indication of what was to follow.

I was lucky enough to be there for one of their butchery classes, held in the middle of the shop around the impressive butcher’s block. While I knew I would be getting my hands dirty, I wasn’t sure exactly what I would be butchering since this is dependant on what’s in season and what’s available. David, the co-owner, explained that today’s selection was chicken, lamb and beef.

We started with the chicken, probably because it was the easiest. Except it wasn’t and I soon realised that there’s a reason Stephen deals with the butchery in our kitchen. David and his colleagues were on hand to help though and I eventually managed to do a reasonable job, although there was definitely more meat left on my carcass than there should have been.

Luckily for me, David and his colleagues were more than happy to continue helping me as I attempted to portion a whole oxtail, French trim a rack of lamb (which involves both a saw and a cleaver) and de-bone a beef sirloin. It wasn’t easy but it was most definitely rewarding and by the end of the class I felt reasonably confident in my ability.

Aside from the butchery, it quickly became apparent just how much skill is involved in the production of something like a rack of lamb. Sure, I’ve trimmed a half-rack and cleaned bones at home before but have never given much thought to what’s involved in the steps before (the sawing and the cleavering is what I’m talking about here!). Allens supply many of London’s finest restaurants and part of the aim behind the course is to leave people with an understanding of what’s involved in getting their restaurant steak to the table.

At £100, it’s not cheap but it’s a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon and you get to take all that meat home with you too. Yep, I struggled to the tube with a whole chicken, an oxtail, a rack of lamb and that impressive beef sirloin compete with bones to turn into stock. It’s going to be a meaty week!

Feb 27th, 2010

3 Comments to 'Butchery Masterclass at Allens of Mayfair'

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  1. Baby Bro said,

    Wow! my sister and a meat cleaver! I never thought i would say that unless i was was joking!
    Looks like a challenging day in Mayfair, I always got the impression that butchers were a bit…..eccentric?? If you know where i am coming from???

  2. This looks right up my street…I seem to have missed loads of your posts – I have you on my blog page so whenever I go to my blog I can see the new posts but they must not be feeding through regularly as I am missing all this good stuff! So want to do this course….yum!
    .-= The Curious Cat´s last blog ..Swans and dates…maybe… =-.

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