Tag Archives: red bank farm

Rotary Club of Newton-le-Willows Beer Festival April 2015

“Beer, rock music, friendship, community, charity, what’s not to like?”

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Newton-le-Willows Beer Festival has been an annual event in the local calendar for quite a few years now, and yet, despite liking my beer I’ve never really given it a serious thought. A bubble in my mind has likeable, bearded chaps with rucksacks, leaning on a makeshift bar giving marks for ‘hoppage’, aroma and citrus notes while sucking on a half pint glass of mead. The reality was somewhat different. In fairness I dare say there was a few of these hardy coves, but there was probably about another nine hundred souls, young, old and female to make up the rest. It was an uplifting experience to witness my home town community spirit in full, thriving action.

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As you would imagine the beer is the centrepiece of the scheme. Over one hundred examples were on offer, including dark beers, stouts, pale ales, milds and some strong ciders. Sixty odd of them were marshalled on two rows of scaffolding in the huge outdoor marquee. A further forty odd were set up inside the historic sports clubs main function room. Joining the two camps were some steps, some loos and the Red Bank Farm Shop tent selling pulled pork, beef burgers and chips to help soak up the alcohol and stave off the pangs of ‘peckishness’.

Happy staff, the throng, Salander
Happy staff, the throng, Salander

I went with some like minded chums. We met on the local high street mid afternoon to sample a pint from one of the sponsors ‘The Firkin Bar’. We then strolled the final lap to pay our fiver and gain access to the event via a commemorative glass and a handsome volume detailing the brews on offer. We then each swapped a tenner for our beer tokens. A fine currency constructed from discs of yellow and red plastic. Each disc was dutifully exchanged for a half of your chosen brew. If you were fortunate a plucky volunteer would struggle to shut the tap off fully and a further 1/4 pint could dribble into your glass. This never happened to me but I heard rumours of others it happened to!

Locals enjoying a pint
Locals enjoying a pint

As well as the beer, The Rotary Club of Newton-le-Willows organised some live music. Local hot shots Chicken Run had entertained the throng on the Friday night. Being Saturday afternoon we happened upon a cherubic bunch of chaps called Salamander. They had a nifty knack of turning stompy old rock favourites into full blown heavy metal anthems. They went down a storm. I reckon many of the locals also thought there was a storm coming, my ears are still ringing!

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By 8.30 I’d spent my tenner. I’d had some Lonesome pine, a blonde witch, a citra, a campfire, a cheeky pheasant and a few others. Thankfully I missed out on my Wobbly Bob! Despite the maddening crowds in the marquee and the main hall it was brilliantly organised. The merry throng of blue shirted volunteers ensured you didn’t wait long for your next fix.

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The high spirited crowd performed there role with dignified drunkenness. As far as I was aware with no trouble at all. It was a superb event and one I shall be marking down in my calendar. I suggest you mark it in yours. It’s always on the same weekend as The Grand National. When you add in the fact that this is an event for charity it really does make sense. Sponsors and organisers take a bow.

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Osso Buco – Braised Veal Shin by Jamie Oliver

Saw this dish first done by Jamie Oliver on his Comfort food programme. I know quite a few serious foodies don’t seem to rate Jamie as a serious chef, but I don’t mind the lad. He knocks out a decent feed, and he doesn’t seem to say ‘pucka’ anymore.

This dish’s primary ingredient, veal shank, is common, relatively cheap and flavorful. Although tough, braising makes it tender. The cut traditionally used for this dish comes from the top of the thigh which has a higher proportion of bone to meat than other meaty cuts of beef. The shank is then cross-cut into sections about 3 cm thick.
Ossobuco or osso buco translates (rather unflatteringly) in Italian for “bone with a hole” (osso bone, buco hole), a reference to the marrow hole at the centre of the cross-cut veal shank.

Two slices fresh from the butcher
Two slices fresh from the butcher

I got two big slices from my local butcher (Nicola at Red Bank Farm Shop) for just under £8.

Although recipes vary, most start by browning the veal shanks in butter after dredging them in flour, while others recommend vegetable oil or lard.The braising liquid is usually a combination of white wine and meat broth flavoured with vegetables.
The traditional accompaniment for the great ossobuco is risotto alla Milanese, commonly known in Italy as risotto allo zafferano – that brilliant yellow saffron risotto. But I couldn’t be bothered doing that and had mashed spuds instead. To be fair this or polenta is a still pretty good as a simple serving suggestion.

Ingredients to serve 4

4 ossobuco, (cross-cut veal shanks, bone in, roughly 1.5kg in total – order in advance from your butcher)
1 whole nutmeg, for grating
plain flour, for dusting
2 knobs of unsalted butter
olive oil
2 onions
2 small carrots
2 cloves of garlic
2 sticks of celery
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
200 ml Pinot Bianco , or Verdicchio (white wine!)
1 tablespoon tomato purée
1 litre chicken stock
For the gremolata:
2 small cloves of garlic
30 g fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Season the ossobuco lightly with sea salt, pepper and a grating of nutmeg, then dust them in flour, shaking off any excess. Put your widest ovenproof pan on a medium heat with the butter and a really good lug of oil, then add the ossobuco, making sure they’re not touching each other. Fry for 10 to 15 minutes, or until nicely golden, turning halfway – the more care you put into building up good colour now, the better the depth of flavour will be later.

fry first and get a good colour
fry first and get a good colour

While they’re cooking, peel the onions, carrots and garlic, trim the celery, then finely chop it all with the rosemary leaves. When the veal has browned nicely, remove it to a plate. Drain away most of the fat from the pan, then add all the chopped veg and rosemary and cook for 15 minutes, stirring regularly.

chopping and sweating the veg
chopping and sweating the veg

Pour in the wine and cook it away, then stir in the tomato purée and stock. Bring to the boil, using a wooden spoon to pick up all the sticky goodness from the bottom of the pan, then turn the heat off. Return the meat to the pan, cover with a damp sheet of greaseproof paper and tin foil, then carefully transfer to the middle of the oven. Cook for 2 hours, or until the meat is tender and falling apart – check on it halfway, adding a splash of water, if needed. If there is a lot of liquid I just put back on the hob and reduced it down, keeping the meat warm on a plate in the oven.

The result with the gremolata and the hole in the bone
The result with the gremolata and the hole in the bone

With about 30 minutes to go on the ossobuco, you could start your risotto allo zafferano (or your mashed spuds!) When that’s done, to make a quick gremolata, peel and roughly chop the garlic with the parsley leaves, finely grate over the lemon zest, then chop and mix together until fine. Divide the risotto or mashed potatoes between warm bowls, then place the ossobuco on top. Season the cooking liquor to perfection (loosening with a few splashes of boiling water if needed) and spoon over the top, then scatter over the gremolata – as soon as it hits the heat of the meat it will explode with wonderful fragrant flavour. It’s well worth doing the gremolata, it’s easy to do and gives a real burst. Enjoy

I based my recipe on Jamies link below
http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/beef-recipes/ossobuco-alla-milanese

Open Farm Sunday 2014 – Red Bank Farm

The Cooktwit is blessed. No question, He is blessed. He lives near Red Bank Farm. Red Bank Farm is in Newton-le-Willows, a small industrial town, famous for locomotives, canals, arches, The Bulls Head and biscuit machinery! Sadly, all that has gone (including The Bulls Head!). It now has lots of houses, but, within a short scutch of its heart, rolling fields of grass and golf start to appear. Arguably the greatest use of this green bit of Newton-le-Willows is the provision of sheds and grazing pasture for an array of farm animals notably cattle, sheep and pigs. Red Bank Farm studiously manages the raising of these beasts and then rather thoughtfully, arranges to have them slaughtered and beautifully butchered for me to buy. I have tried many cuts over the years and never been less than stunned at the quality. So when a national initiative called ‘Open Farm Sunday’ breaks out it was the work of a moment to get down to Red Bank and see what happens.

A celebration of farming
A celebration of farming

Open Farm Sunday began in 2006. The idea quite simply is for participating farms to open up behind the scenes and allow visitors to wander round and see the animals and machinery that make it all happen. As you might expect the emphasis is on making all this appeal to families and in particular children. Whatever Red Bank Farm had laid on this year seemed to have worked. Newton was in gridlock as cars filled the makeshift carpark and lined the main A49 road into the town.

Crowds and machinery
Crowds and machinery

As myself and The Flame had walked it was a stress less entry to the hallowed grounds. I guess there was hundreds of people milling around the farm. Farm hands thoughtfully placed to explain to the children what the animals are and how they are managed. Shetland ponies gently sauntered, whilst all the remaining animals where caged but prominently displayed for the children to see and touch. Hefty, high tech machinery was strategically placed for child photo opportunities. I tried to get one myself but the flame wouldn’t let me! Birds of prey swooped in and out from up high, taking one child high up in the sky before letting him drop (no I made that up, just adding a bit of texture!!).

The stars of the show. The animals
The stars of the show. The animals

Highlight for me was the butchery demonstration. Scheduled for 1pm, big John, dressed in red in a red tent behind some red bunting stepped forward with a side of pig over his shoulder. The crowd went wild. Well the kids did anyway, I couldn’t get anywhere near. John started to hack, saw and slice his way through this wondrous pink carcass. The kids remained transfixed wondering why there wasn’t any blood! It was amazing to watch. The quality of the meat was clearly evident. John merely having to rest his knife on the flesh to create another saleable cut. After about twenty minutes the beast was left presented in trays. All yours for £100. A bargain.

Big Johns butchery demo
Big Johns butchery demo

The first Open Farm Sunday welcomed around 30,000 visitors. Since then, Open Farm Sunday has achieved visitor numbers of over 100,000 each year and on 9th June 2013 had a record 200,000 visitors! To date over one million people have attended Open Farm Sunday events since it began. I’m sure this year has been just as successful. The sun was shining and the cars kept coming even when we left.
Thankfully I can come back next week and keep on buying this amazing produce. I am immensely proud having been born in Newton that I can buy meat raised and butchered (by Nicola and Joanne) here in Newton as well. Having read Jay Rayner’s wonderful ‘Greedy man’ book, I accept that globally, communities cannot all sustain themselves and that I am extremely fortunate to be able to buy this produce locally and afford to buy it. At least I know by supporting local businesses I am helping in a small way for a local business to survive. Long may Red Bank Farm and all other farms continue. Use them or lose them, that’s what I say.

The produce
The produce

Red Bank Farm Shop,
Winwick Road,
Newton Le Willows,
WA12 8DU
Tel: 07824 369174
http://www.farmshopnorthwest.co.uk

 

 

Grilled Marinated Hanger Steak

I am fortunate to live within a short stroll away from a superb local butcher. The thought of buying meat that has come from animals born and bred in my home town adds a proper meaning to the term ‘shop local’.

It was during one of my regular jaunts that I noticed a long streak of muscle nestling in a tray on the top shelf of The Red Bank Farm shop display. A short enquiry with the host revealed that this luvicious, pink lump to be what’s known as a ‘hanger’ steak. I was intrigued and so it was the work of a moment to thrash out the deal and bag me a pound of prime.

The raw hanger steak
The raw hanger steak

There is only one hanger steak per animal. As the name suggests it ‘hangs’ from the diaphragm and is attached to the spine and the last rib (sounds like you know what you’re on about! – Ed). It normally weighs between a pound and a pound and a half (450 to 675g). It’s reckoned it is the tenderest cut on an animal and is best marinated and cooked quickly over high heat and served rare or medium rare, to avoid toughness.

The recipe I have cadged here is by Anne Burrell who seemingly pops up on a show called ‘Secrets of a Restaurant Chef’. It’s quite simple really, the keys seems to be to marinate the meat overnight. The ingredients below are for 2 steaks which I reckon would feed 4. I actually cooked one for me and The Flame.

Marinating ingredients and then smeared in readiness
Marinating ingredients and then smeared in readiness

Ingredients
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
Pinch crushed pepper
2 sprigs rosemary, picked and finely chopped
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 (1 1/2-pound each) hanger steaks, trimmed, membrane removed and cut in half lengthwise
salt
Rapeseed oil

Directions
In a small bowl, combine the Dijon, garlic, rosemary, lemon juice and zest, and crushed pepper. Smear the steaks with this deliciousness and let them hang out in the fridge overnight or up to 2 hours in the fridge.

You could grill the steaks on a barbecue or indoor grill. I did mine on the hob in my trusty grill pan. I seasoned the steaks with salt before setting on the hot, lightly oiled grill pan. I seared each side for about three minutes each and then rested for 5 – 10 minutes in a warm oven. You could cover with foil I reckon.

Grilling and resting
Grilling and resting

Alternatively using Anne’s recipe she does it on a flame grill. When the grill is hot, brush and oil the grill. When the flames have dissipated place the steaks on a hot spot on the grill. Brush with the excess marinade and move the steaks out of the flame if there is a flare up. Grill the steak for 4 to 5 minutes on each side for medium rare. Remove the steaks from the grill and let them rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

One rested I sliced mine and served immediately with chips and salad. I have to say it was pretty good. The marinade really comes through and gives the meat plenty of flavour. I’d definitely do it again. And after all it is a fairly cheap cut.

The final result, sliced served with chips, sausage and salad
The final result, sliced served with chips, sausage and salad

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/anne-burrell/marinated-grilled-hanger-steak-recipe.html

I got the hanger steak from
Red Bank Farm Shop, Winwick Road,
Newton Le Willows, Warrington, WA12 8DU
Tel: 07824 369174
http://www.farmshopnorthwest.co.uk