Stefan Kölsch - Head Chef

People often tell me they can’t believe how tasty our ready meals are. ‘It’s simple’, I tell them, ‘I only put into them what I’d be happy to serve you up anyway’.

By this, I mean that the meat we put into our ready meals is the same premium quality meat that we serve up as our main cuts. It tastes so good because, quite simply, it’s great meat! Here’s how I know this:

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  1. • All of our beef and lamb is grass fed. This means that the animals have fattened slowly, at their own natural rate of growth, without the rapid weight gain that results from grain feeding. As the animals are also moving about the open fields, the muscles are well toned, which makes for a good, firm texture – not soft and flabby like some inferior meat.
  2. • Our butchers choose the meat very carefully. Any that’s not good enough is simply turned away at the door. We’re a small, close-knit team here in Inverurie – I see our butchers every day. They know the kind of quality I insist on, and provide me with nothing less.

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  1. • Once we’ve got the best meat around, we treat it well. We mature it slowly, on the bone, to allow the natural depth of flavour to develop, and to make the meat beautifully tender. Maturing for a good long time is expensive, but we believe it’s worth the money.
  2. • When our butchers decide it’s at the peak of maturation, they carefully cut it by hand. Again, this is more expensive that cutting it with machines, but we believe it gives the very best results. Something as simple as cutting ‘with the grain’ rather than ‘against the grain’ can make the difference between a tough piece of meat and a tender one.

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So you can see the care we take over the meat is bound to show through in the finished meal. And it’s the same with our poultry, game, fish and vegetables – if we wouldn’t be happy to serve you it on its own, it won’t make it into our meals. That’s our promise to you!

*STOP PRESS*

We’ve just had our reputation for quality products recognised by the UK’s most prestigious meat industry publication, the Meat Management Awards. They’ve named our Cottage Pie ‘Britain’s Best Meat Pie’! How’s that for an honour?!

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Happy eating,

Stefan

Posted by Stefan in Head Chef, NEW to Donald Russell   |  Leave a comment

Corrie Cheyne

Well, it’s been a long, cold spring, but it looks as if summer may finally be arriving here in Aberdeenshire. It can’t come soon enough for me! There’s one summertime dish that I absolutely love, and that’s poached chicken. Whether it’s served hot in its own light broth, or allowed to cool and served up in a fabulously summery salad, there’s a softness and succulence to the texture that I just can’t get enough of. We’ll look at the broth today, and later we’ll look at how to serve cold poached chicken – summer on a plate!

There are several methods you can use, but I find this one to be nice and simple. You’ll need a good free-range chicken, some summery vegetables and herbs, and a carbohydrate of your choice. I like a chunk of crusty bread to dunk in the broth, but you could equally add some noodles, quinoa or baby new potatoes to the pot while it simmers if you prefer.

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Decide whether you want to leave the chicken skin on – it does add some flavour, but I quite like this broth clean and simple so I tend to remove it. Add the whole chicken to a large pot and add enough cold water to come within a few centimetres of the top of the chicken (you want it just covered once the veg has all been added).

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Bring to the boil, and turn it down to a bare simmer – a bubble just occasionally breaking the surface kind of simmer, and definitely not a rolling boil, which will make the chicken tough. Cook for another hour or so – a large chicken may take a wee bit longer; just check at the leg joints to see if they’re still too pink, and cook for another while if so. Add your favourite veg and aromatics, throwing them in at points that will have them tender by the end of the hour. A typical pot for me would include:

  1. • A large (this is no place for stinting) bouquet garni of fresh parsley, thyme and bay
  2. • A bulb of garlic, cut across the ‘equator’ (I love garlic – use less if this seems too much)
  3. • A whole onion, peeled and cut across the ‘equator’ (I fish this out before serving)
  4. • A good grind of black pepper (no whole peppercorns – remember, you want to eat this broth
      without straining it!) – add salt to taste at the end of cooking
  5. • Chopped carrots, celery, spring greens, asparagus, spring onions, fresh peas, broad beans
      or courgettes

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When the chicken’s cooked to your liking, remove it and strip some of the meat from the bones while you reduce the broth down a little – add the salt now. Shred the chicken into bowls, and ladle the stock and veg over the top. Serve hot, with crusty bread – the chicken is soft and juicy, the veg is fresh and tender, and the whole thing tastes like sunshine!

Yours aye,
Corrie

Posted by Corrie in Cooking Tips & Recipes, NEW to Donald Russell   |  Leave a comment

sandy-wylie

Butchery is an extremely highly skilled craft, which can take years to learn and a lifetime to perfect. Machine-cut meat is cheaper, but here at Donald Russell, we believe in keeping the art of proper butchery alive. We’re proud to have started an apprenticeship scheme to do just that. We now have five apprentices – one has joined since these pictures were taken, and we have another young woman wanting to join soon, too.

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They’re learning about knife skills, boning techniques and different cuts of meat, as well as health & safety legislation. These lucky trainees have me looking over their shoulders every step of the way – as a third generation Master Butcher I won’t let them get away with anything less than perfection!

Mark-and-butchers

Our Head Butcher Mark keeps an eye on them, too. They’re working through a series of stages, learning at their own pace and completing tasks such as boning out a 5 Bone Rib. At the end of a few years – between three and five years, depending on the individual – they’ll be fully trained in all aspects of butchery, and will be presented with an SVQ certificate to prove it.

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We’re delighted to be passing on the skills of hand-cutting meat, which can make such a difference to the final eating quality. Our youngsters get a valuable trade for life, and we get butchers who can prepare meat to our own high standards. This way, everyone wins.

Here’s to the future generation!

Sandy Wyllie
Butcher

Posted by Cruicky in NEW to Donald Russell   |  Leave a comment