Friday 20 January 2012

Review - "Butchery to Pimp Your Home Cooking" course

This is a knife, M'kay?
A couple of weeks ago I saw a tweet mentioning a butchering course. This course was being advertised as being run by Nathan Mills, @naththebutcher.

Given the fact that I've wanted to learn better knife skills for quite some time as well as wanting to get a better understanding of how to cut up and treat my meats I quickly signed up.

The day for the course soon came around and I left Gods own county for London and all its lights and distractions. Having arrived at Bermondsey tube station I headed for Nathan's place. I have to be honest and say that finding the place in the dark wasn't the easiest thing. We did talk about this though and I believe some photographs will be added to their site in order to aid you in finding itt.

Once I found the place I was very warmly welcomed by Nathan and Ruth. I had a quick tour of the facilities that was very new, clean and impressive. They have the look around them that makes you expect Vinny Jones to come in with some poor sod of a gangster that is being 'disposed' of.

After some chat I was treated to some thinly sliced roast beef, bread and condiments as a quick snack as we were waiting for the other course delegates. This time there was only two other delegates, the maximum amount of delegates are five.

Once everyone was gathered and had tried some of the beef we were handed our coats, aprons, gloves, cloths and knives. It was getting serious.

We started with the chicken. First we were given instructions on how to truss the chicken and were all giving this a go. Chicken trussed, we cut off the twine in order to start butchering the bird. For each 'sub-part' of the bird Nathan gave us a talkthrough, then he demonstrated whilst talking us through it again. Then it was our turn to try it, with Nathan offering us assistance when needed. This methodology was used throughout the evening and at least for me it worked really well. Once we had the chicken breasts off the bird we were given ziploc bags. The breasts were put into the bags and apple juice were poured onto them together with sliced chilies and some herbs. Marinating, ready to be cooked.

Sawing the pig.
Next we went on to the shoulder of pork. First though, Nathan got half a pig out for us and showed us how they butcher down a pig. All the time giving us the names of the parts, tips about good cuts that are unknown and generally good tips and pointers about pork. Feeling suitably humble about my lack of skills with the knife it was now time to turn my attention to my shoulder of pork. We boned it, generally tidied it up and applied some herbs and spices in order to make porchetta out of it. If we didn't make it all the way, I do think we were close to the world record for the amount of garlic in three porchettas. This is when we got to the knots...

Leave no garlic behind.
Either Nathan got the patience of a saint or he got his knife out and made some serious damage to dead animals when we had left. He had to teach the three of us how to make the butchers knot. Without wasting too much time on the subject let's just say that we were probably not the quickest to learn or the most nimble of the finger. In the end thought we had managed to roll and tie up our porchettas and it was time to head over to the leg of lamb.

Making knots, or not.

Just like with the pig, Nathan got half a lamb out and proceeded to butcher it down as he was telling us what he was doing and why. That done, we proceeded to get our legs of lamb butterflied and smothered in a pesto-like marinade that Nathan prepared for us.

Busy at work.

Lamb put away and the place tidied we sat down for a very nice meal of slow cooked beef, sauce, bread, salad and some good wine. It seems like all of us fitted together quite well because the conversation flowed during the meal, just as it had all evening.

All the meat we prepared, including the chicken carcass, were packaged up as the evening progressed and as we left we were carrying some serious amounts of meat with us. We were joking about being being put through a 'stop and search' and trying to convince the police that we were not carrying around a butchered whore or two.

So, what's my conclusion of this course then and would I go for another course with Nathan again?

I thoroughly enjoyed the course and picked up lots during the evening. Nathan had a very easy way of teaching us and the entire evening was peppered with small tips and good advice. At times you did notice that we were the first class and there's room for some improvement but that is just to be expected. I went away feeling more confident in my abilities to work with a knife and that's what I came there for. The added bonus of a shedload of nice meat to cook and a nice evening in very good company was a most excellent bonus.

As for going again, hell yeah. I'm quite tempted to go for one of the courses where you get to butcher a pig or lamb but I think I'd need to get myself another freezer to fit all that meat in.

For more information on the courses, to book a course and all that - have a look at Edible Experiences here.

Edible Experiences
[Disclaimer 1: All photos are kindly supplied by Nathan and Ruth. I was so busy that I didn't have time to take any photos.]
[Disclaimer 2: Booking this course was my own decision, I paid the full price out of my own pocket and I have no affiliation with either Nathan or Edible Experiences. All views and opinions above are my own.]


  1. That sounds great, more people should have a go as it gives greater understanding of each cut and how best to cook it.
    I'm very fortunate to have a mate who was a butcher that has been willing to teach me, and he's thinking of doing similar courses to this.

    1. Marcus,

      Many thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

      I'm totally with you, it gives you a better understanding and more respect for the meat.

      You're lucky with having a mate that can teach you and I think he should go for it. I've spoken to enough people about this to realise that lots of people would go for it if they were offered the chance.

      // Mike

  2. What a hoot! Cutting up meat isn't my favourite thing to do. Probably after all that, I would not have been able to eat the meal of beef! (Note to self: If I take a butchery class that includes a meal, bring along my own vegetarian meal.) And I want to hear more about the two knife grips you learned. I can well imagine the grip of the one you mentioned with the colorful name, but what was the other one?

  3. I've always wanted to improve my knife skills too. This course sounds great and what a bonus to go home with all that lovely meat. GG

    1. GG,

      I've heard the same from so many others. Knife skill courses would probably be filled for years to come if we just could sort one out.

      The course was indeed great. I cooked my Porchetta this Sunday and the quality of the meat was just out of this world.

      Six hours on 140c made it melt in the mouth tender as well. Only problem was that it smelled so good that it felt like torture waiting. ;)

      // Mike


Please leave a comment. Positive or negative - all comments are welcome and useful. I do enjoy hearing what you think of my posts, what is good and what needs improving so please post away.

// Mike