The Ginger Pig – Steak night

The Ginger Pig Ltd is probably best described as a purveyor of high quality meat. With five shops across London and a few farms on the North Yorkshire Moors that supply their shops, the quality of the meat they sell is excellent.

For my birthday I was the lucky recipient of a voucher for an evening of food and butchery. As I sat on the bus on the way to London looking forward to my eve at the Ginger Pig, I remembered a scene from American sit-com Scrubs and one of JD and Turk’s little numbers.

We’re going to steak night, We’re going to eat it right, Steak is such a treat, It’s the world’s best meat.

‘We’ became ‘I’ as I wandered through London. As well as beef the Ginger Pig offer a few other learn how to butcher courses; pig, lamb and sausages. All of these classes are run in their Marylebone shop which sits just off the Marylebone High Street in Moxon Street.

The evening’s celebration of beef is set into three key parts.

  • The butchering of a side of beef, and talking the class through its various cuts.
  • The preparing of a Cote de Beouf roasting joint to take home for a Sunday roast.
  • A fantastic five bone fore rib roast for the group to enjoy.

Wet or Dry

Borut explains the two key ways meat is aged, dry, and you've probably already guessed the second - wet. Dry is done in a butchers' fridge whereby large sections of the cow are hung with the cold air allowed to circulate around them. The wet ageing process involves butchering the cow and placing the cuts in vacuum sealed packaging. Both methods allow the meat to tenderise and this tenderising process occurs in the first 2-3 weeks of the ageing process.

Dry aging allows the flavour of the beef to develop and can be done for up to about 100 days, though we are assured that around 40 days is the best time for a good beefy flavour to develop. As meat dry ages it loses moisture and weight, wet aging keeps all the moisture in and the weight remains the same. Hence dry aged meat is often priced as a premium product and vacuum packed aged steaks is often the norm on supermarket shelves.

Dismantling a side of beef

To start our butchery course, Perry talks us through the sections of a fillet as he masterfully trims it for our consumption. He proudly holds up the middle wellington section of the fillet and passes it to Borut who disappears into the kitchen to work his magic.

Moving to the side of beef, we were then given the low down on the main sections before some of us were invited to firstly try to lift the 135 kilo hunk of meat and then gradually butcher the side as Perry talked us through the various cuts.

A couple of great pointers when choosing your steak

  • A T-bone should have more than just a tiny piece of fillet attached.
  • If you want a big chunk of the fillet a Porter House is what you need to be asking for.
  • Rib eye was Perry’s favourite steak – the butcher knows best
  • Cheaper steaks worth keeping an eye out for include onglet, otherwise known as the butchers’ cut as it was often the case the butcher would eat this himself.

Our turn

The group were then let loose with the butchers' knives (after a safety talk and with a protective glove) on our cuts to take home. We chimed our Cote de Beouf, which was effectively a big succulent chunk of rib eye, still on the bone with skirt on top. If you are ordering a fore rib roast from a butcher, we’re advised you should ask your butcher to chime the cut as it will make it tenfold easier to carve when serving.

We then went all Boy Scout and learnt a butchers' knot to stop our joints from falling apart. As you can see from the picture my butchers’ knots were relatively successful and provided the necessary support to hold my tower of meat up.

My Cote de Beouf is now waiting in my freezer waiting for the special occasion it deserves. What I froze it - I hear you murmur. I was assured by Borut that freezing meat is fine as long as you don't forget about it and trust me that won’t happen.

The fore rib roast

Earlier in the eve my taste buds had been excited with a few slices of succulent fillet steak. And cutting up all this amazing beef had definitely got my belly purring at thought of chomping through some prime rib eye. Served with a creamy potato dauphinoise it was everything I wanted it to be.

The fore rib roast was up there with some of the best beef I've ever eaten. Cooked medium rare with roasted crispy bits on the outside, I was in serious steak heaven. In the surroundings of the Ginger Pig shop the group chatted over steak and a couple of glasses of bull bodied red wine. Plus there was an afterthought of bread and butter pudding which was all good.

So all in all, learning how to butcher the various cuts was interesting and has definitely improved my knowledge. The Cote de Beouf I have in my freezer will be an absolute treat for an up and coming Sunday. Beef of this quality is special and eating it in the setting of the Marylebone Ginger Pig definitely added to the overall experience.

If you want to learn more about butchery or are stuck for a present idea for a meat lover have a little look at