The butchers who are cutting the mustard
The range of kosher meat is better than ever thanks in part to the horse meat scandal and customer demand
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The London kosher meat trade is enjoying a boom. One catalyst has been the horse meat scandal. According to Jackie Lipowicz, chairman of the Licensed Kosher Meat Traders Association: “Customers who have become worried about their meat being adulterated have come back to the kosher shops in greater numbers.”
Lipowicz goes on to say: “The controls in place by the London Board for Shechita (LBS) are stringent, with an audit trail stretching all the way back to the shechted livestock so that nothing bad would have been able to slip through the net into their licensed shops.”
But there has also been an increase in the range of kosher meats available from kosher butchers. Cuts like London broil — which despite its name is an American cut of beef — have become increasingly popular here in the UK.
David Rose, executive director of the LBS put this down to the influx to London of Jews from other countries with different meat-eating traditions and the growing interest in exploring new cuisines. French, American, South African and Sephardi Jews living here in relatively large numbers have recipes often made with cuts of meat unusual to us.
Lipowicz explains that his Sephardi customers are more adventurous with their choice of meat for cholent using turkey drumsticks, brisket on the bone and even flanken — also known as short ribs. And shin of beef is popular with the French and Moroccans, while other nationalities may use ox tail, lamb neck, whole shin of beef or ox cheek.
The cuts available have also been influenced by tougher financial times, forcing butchers to utilise more and more of the carcasses.
So what exactly are the new cuts and how best to cook them?
London broil is the shoulder — or side bola — with the central sinew removed. The bola is the inside blade of the shoulder which is divided into the round, side and prime cuts. With the sinew removed, this is a prime, soft joint of meat and is widely available.
To get the best from London broil, marinate it first to soften the meat further and always rest it for five to 10 minutes after cooking. If you start to carve too soon, the juices will run out of the steak leaving you with a dry piece of meat.
Two more interesting cuts of beef to look out for are also both from the shoulder.
Prime bola and side bola are both ideal for roasting, but as prime bola has no fat, it can be dry if cooked for too long with no additional liquid and it should be roasted covered.
The side bola does have a little fat inside and tends to be more moist and tender so is great for roasting or even for a slow cook.
Fairy steaks are slices of beef that come from the side bola which are delicious pan fried or grilled.
The poetically named Jacob’s Ladder is a slightly different cut of the rack of either lamb or spare (beef) ribs. It is the top of the forerib with the meat still on. Where once those ribs would have been boned out and used for mince or rolled with the rib it is now sold as a shortened rack and is perfect for roasting or a summer barbecue.
Prime cuts like this benefit from relatively quick cooking methods such as roasting, grilling and baking.
Another interesting cut of lamb is the foreleg. It is actually the shoulder but has been butchered so it resembles a leg — with just one bone in the middle. Cooked on the bone the meat is more tasty and easier to carve.
Some smaller lamb cuts, such as lamb shoulder now incorporate the marrow bone which will give a huge amount of flavour to stews and tagines. Ask for an “English cut” and you will get a whole shoulder of lamb that includes more of the bone and needs to be carved across the grain.
But it is not just new cuts of meat that are becoming available in kosher butchers. Another area that has seen an increase in the range and volume sales is that of prepared meats.
Elaine Mann of Manns’ Butchers says “we want to keep up with trends. Customers are finding recipes from around the world on the internet and we provide meats to suit all tastes.”
And many butchers are keen to point out that they are also seeking to ensure that kosher remains affordable.
As David Rose of the LBS says, “shop around and you will see that the kosher meat market is changing and that there is now a wide variation in the cuts and choices that individual butchers offer, all at better value than you might expect”.