Sunday, 24 March 2013

An Easter Roast! Feeling Full at Asda's Meat Masterclass

I love cooking (and eating too) but unfortunately, I'm not very good at it (the cooking part that is). I've bought countless cook books and am well able to follow a recipe, but the fact is that my understanding of flavours and what works with what is pretty limited. Once I do get hold of a good idea for tea though I do tend to repeat it over and over again until everyone is completely sick to death of it.

That's why I jumped at the chance of going to the Asda "Meat Masterclass" which I was kindly invited to. A few months ago I went to the Asda Pie Event and I feel like I'm a familiar face there now and have got to know the food PRs and the other bloggers pretty well.

When we arrived we were greeted by Master butcher Jim who is the mastermind behind Asda's "Butchers Selection" (see picture below) and amazing chef Mark Richmond who apparently had been cooking up a feast for us all day. Our first task was to prepare a shoulder of lamb whilst Jim told us a bit about how Asda source their meat and their efforts to try to ensure they buy local and pay a fair price. He also told us about how they only sell certain parts of the lamb so that customers aren't faced with a pack of fatty meat.

When we prepared the lamb we were asked to scour the skin and "tickle" it with oil, before adding a sprig of rosemary tied on with "elastic bands" (technical term). Here is Jim showing us what to do...
Jim preparing his lamb...

Here is me trying to look like I know what I'm doing
Scouring Fun....


and my finished attempt....
my prepared lamb!
Apparently I went a bit too deep with my knife! We also added cloves of garlic which you can see in this picture.  These were peeled though Mark the chef did tell us later that this works better if you don't bother peeling as the garlic caramelises far better with the skin on.

Jim also taught us how to prepare a rack of lamb, slicing off half of the skin and then stripping the bones down so that they look all restauranty...you can see Jim at work here!
 
Jim preparing his ribs...

My friend and I had a go at doing the same, what you can see here is mainly me directing and supervising the hard work...
Lots of lovely meats! Supervision needed....
 
Jim also told us about how Asda butchers prepare their meat by hand rather than slicing in a machine, this means their chops and steaks are cut much thicker than other supermarkets. You can see Jim preparing some lovely steak here, the way he chopped through it with his sharp knife made me think of our pathetic implements at home where we have to saw through a mushroom with a completely blunt knife!
Jim with his beef..

Jim said he'd been working for Asda for nearly 30 years and had started working for them as a butchers boy. He is now head of purchasing for meat and certainly knows his onions when it comes to meat. After all this fun with the meat it was now time to learn how to actually cook it. Mark is head of food innovation at Asda (I might have just made that title up but it was something very similar!) and showed us how to make the perfect marinade using garlic, shallots and LOADS of olive oil. He showed us how to make carrot crush which involves caramelising the carrots and cooking them for AGES. He also showed us a great dish with cauliflower which started by blanching them in boiling water, frying in chilli oil then cooking in the oven with a lovely tomato based sauce. I also learned all the various ways to cook lamb including Mediterranean lamb with olives, anchovies and capers stuffed down the scoured skin. It was amazing but to be honest by this stage we were all so hungry it was difficult to take in what was being said! We then had an amazing meal all together in the Green House with the various types of lamb.

Our amazing meal!
The food was amazing and it really was like having a meal in a restaurant. Jim told us that the shoulder of lamb would only cost about £10 from Asda and would feed 10 people. We were also given a lovely bag full of meats for us to cook at home. Here is my attempt at the lamb shoulder...
Our lovely dinner!
What I did was brown the shoulder off for 35 minutes before basically cooking it for a whole day at about 60 degrees (ignore the bizarre red eyes, weird!). The result was lovely tender lamb that just fell off he bone. I had a go at the carrots and potato recipes from the most recent Asda Easter magazine and I think it turned out well! We ended up eating the lamb in various guises (we made a lamb casserole using our slow cooker with the leftovers then pureed that on the third day into a soup!) so actually though the shoulder cost £10 it lasted us ages. We were also given a lovely Easter chick cake which the boys loved and has already been 100% eaten! Sorry chicky!

Lovely Asda chick cake!
Have you got any plans for Easter Sunday? What are you cooking?

I was invited to Asda House as their guest to take part in the meat masterclass and was given a bag of meat to take home, but all thoughts are my own and it was very yummy.

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