Christine McFadden Cookery and Food Writing
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Christine McFadden with students
Alternative Pancakes
A Taste of Rabbit
Beyond Carrot Cake
Bountiful Blackberries
Celebrating Celery
Cherries are the Only Fruit
Chuck, Flank and Shank
Cooking With
What You’ve Got
Cool Curries
Delectable Duck
Do I Dare to Eat a Peach?
Drupe Fruit
Excellent Eggs
Feel the Fear and
Cook it Anyway
Give Swede a Chance
Glorious Globes
Glorious Greens
Golden Orbs
Heavenly Herbs
King Cauliflower
Lovely Lovage
Meat of Kings
More Than Marmalade
Of Cabbages and Kings
Partridges and Pears
Pumpkins and Winter Squash
Remarkable Medlars
Roasting Chestnuts
Rhubarb Renaissance
Ruffian Roots: Celeriac
Sensational Sea Buckthorn
Sicilian Utopia
Strawberry Fare
The Not-So-Humble Parsnip
Time for Pie
Time to Talk About Eggs
Watercress – a culinary hero
We Won't Go Until
We Get Some
Oxtail recipes Christine McFadden butchers traditional meat

Christine's blog

This is the place to enjoy Christine's food-related musings – from seasonal food and food producers to cooking tools, food markets and gastro-travel. You'll also find some must-try recipes and invaluable tips and techniques.

Chuck, Flank and Shank

My earliest memory is sitting on my father’s shoulders, aged three, in an old-fashioned butchers shop, surrounded by sausages dangling from the ceiling. I remember their savoury smell and damp skins, and trying to prevent them from brushing against my face. Also memorable was the insistent thud of the cleaver as the butcher chopped our meat. I liked the sawdust on the floor too; it looked very clean.

My love for such places continues, and I am fortunate that there are three traditional butchers near where I live, all of whom sell a good choice of meat.
As well as the usual chops and steaks, you’re likely to find plenty of traditional cuts: scrag end of neck, ox cheek and flank steak, for example. Smart new butchers have also emerged in the region and are doing well. It’s not hard to understand why. In these covid-ridden times more and more of us are cooking from scratch, perhaps for the first time. No better place to shop than the butchers where you’re likely to get the service and knowledge not always available in supermarkets.

If you haven’t already done so, make a trip to your local butcher and see what’s on offer. Mine sometimes sells pigs ears, in two bowls labelled ‘left’ and ‘right’ – he’s well known for his humour. There are plenty of other options too, including mighty ox heart (great for kebabs), delicious little lambs kidneys, and tasty extremities like tails and trotters. Ham hocks and lamb shanks are also
worth buying.

My all-time favourite is oxtail, perhaps the most familiar of these cuts. It’s a bony protuberance made up of much sinew and fat, and seemingly very little meat. The meat is richly flavoured, however, and there is plenty tucked away in the crevices. Given a few hours of languid simmering, the meat falls from the bone in delectable nuggets, and unpromising-looking gristle melts into glorious gelatinous juices.

According to the recent Food and Drink Report from Waitrose, oxtail sales have increased by a hearty 258%. The report goes on to say: ‘Slow-cooking cuts are great value, foolproof and can deliver deceptively fancy results.’ Though not exactly fancy, I like oxtail with winter roots as in my recipe Oxtail, Celeriac and Carrots. It’s a spirit-lifting supper at this dank time of year, so do give it a try.


© Christine McFadden, January 2021

    Photography: Christine McFadden    
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