At Donald Russell, we don’t just cut and sell meat, we own the whole process. We control the buying, ageing, cutting, packaging and selling, in order to allow us to bring you the best quality meat.
The key to great-tasting meat goes back to the start of the process, buying it in for our Butchers to work their magic.
Controlling the buying process means we only buy meat that we’ll be proud to sell. We only buy from trusted British farms, and we insist that all beef is grass-fed. Not only does this have less impact on the environment, but it is also healthier for the cows and leads to better-tasting meat.
Only around half of the beef that’s available for us to buy would meet our standards to begin with. Then, within that, we inspect everything that we buy in to make sure it reaches our exacting standards. Anything that doesn’t gets sent back. We understand the difference that quality makes, and we won’t compromise.
You might think fresher is better, but when it comes to meat, the aging process is crucial. It transforms the good cuts into great ones. Aging refers to the time that the meat is stored under controlled conditions to improve its tenderness, texture, and flavour.
During the aging process, natural enzymes in the meat break down the muscle fibres and connective tissues, which results in a more tender and juicy finish. Additionally, as the meat ages, moisture evaporates from the surface, concentrating the flavour and adding to the meat's natural taste.
Maturing meat is almost an art in itself. Knowing when each cut has reached its peak flavour requires a keen sense of sight, touch and even smell, honed over years (in some cases decades) of practice.
Anyone who has tasted a properly aged steak can attest to the remarkable difference. Aging allows for the development of complex flavours and unique aromas that you simply won’t find in fresh meat.
Cutting meat sounds like it should be a simple thing, and in some ways it is. But there’s a lot of knowledge and experience that goes into making it seem that way. Butchers need to understand the anatomy of how different muscles are joined, where the fat and gristle run, as well as where the bones are.
Our Butchers are always on the lookout for new techniques and best practices to help improve what we do. One of our senior Butchers went to France to learn about how they cut their Pavé rump steaks. It’s a popular cut in France that looks a bit like a cobblestone (pavé in French), cut by carefully following the natural joins in the muscles. This creates an excellent steak that’s naturally lean and remains juicy.
All of this requires a thorough knowledge of health and safety procedures too – our Butchers use very, very sharp knives and we want all of them to leave with the same amount of fingers and thumbs they came in with!
Finally, they need a good eye for cutting. Our Butchers hand-cut steaks to the right weight with a leeway of just five grams! That would be tricky enough to do with something that’s a consistent size, but every piece of meat is different, making this a seriously impressive skill.
As soon as our Butchers have cut and prepared your meat, we freeze it – fast. Something that might take 6-12 hours to freeze at home could be frozen in as little as three hours. A slower freezing process gives the moisture time to form ice crystals, which will impact the texture of the meat when it defrosts. Avoiding this means we can be confident that the product that reaches you is as good as it was when the Butcher cut it.
Our packaging is designed to address sustainability concerns whilst keeping food hygiene at the forefront. The black trays can be recycled with household waste. The plastic film on top is necessary (until we find a more sustainable option), but we’ve made this as thin as possible.
You won’t find our food in the supermarket. You’ll have to get it directly from us (or one of our restaurant partners). This allows us to have control over the whole process, which all goes towards ensuring your food reaches you in perfect condition.
We do supply food to selected premium restaurants and hotels. This will only ever be where we know that they share our complete commitment to top quality.
All of this means that we have complete control of the process and can make sure that every stage meets our expectations, allowing us to deliver great-tasting food all over the country.