Riverford Wicked Leeks

meatbox newsletter - new year value

2011 – here we come. With the chaos caused by the cold weather before Christmas, I can’t remember whether we are in a recession or not, but double dip is for hobnobs and other biscuits so let’s just get on with it. We all need to eat. However, value for money must be high on everyone’s agenda. It is difficult to make price comparisons because multiples don’t tend to offer a full range of organic meat and many mail order companies are ridiculously expensive, but where we are able to, we do, and items on our extras list are always amongst the cheapest. The meatboxes are even better value, being on average 10% cheaper than the individual items. We are able to do this because we can set the contents against meat available from a carcass, so everything is optimised and nothing goes to waste. There is no need for a middleman or wholesaler and we deal direct with the farmer. We hope the result is a happy farmer, happy customers and, of course, happy us.

To keep things simple, we are starting the year with the same core boxes we ended 2010 with. The rationale is that, with all the turkeys, pork and beef, we sell hardly any fortnightly boxes in the run up to Christmas and come January, everyone will be screaming for something a little different, like lamb. A few of our farmers have lambs left over from autumn and from January onwards; having sheep ‘close grazing’ fields can adversely affect next spring’s growth. Even grass needs a rest. These lambs will have been born in June and July so will have developed enough flavour and texture to stand up to some fairly robust winter cooking. And if that isn’t enough lamb, we are also relaunching our half lamb box for the freezer (see next page).

There are a few alterations to other boxes, with a chicken taking over from the beef pot roast in the winter warmer box. Chicken might not be everyone’s idea of warming winter fare but by poaching it, the soup and stock possibilities are endless. If you keep the breasts above the water line, they will stay deliciously moist while the leg meat cooks through. Alternatively remove the breasts before cooking and use for quick curries, kievs, stir fries or slice thinly and add at the last moment to Chinese-type broths.

Ben Watson