Meet our new Head Butcher, Richard, who hails from Kent and has over 30 year’s experience in the industry!
Having grown up in Sidcup, Kent, I spent most of my childhood summers in Westgate on Sea, with my Mum, Dad, two brothers and two sisters, thinking I would love to live here one day!
I left school in 1983 and spent a year at Smithfield college, learning the core values of butchery, before spending a few years working in a supermarket, and then moving on to a traditional family butchers. Here, I spent over 26 years working, making sausages, preparing traditional English cuts and in the summer, making handmade burgers and kebabs. During this time I also learnt the art of slicing meat the traditional Japanese way.
Eighteen months ago my wife and I had an opportunity to move to Herne Bay – something we had planned for much later in life. So, after 26 years at my current butchery, I sought to find something closer to home with the same butchery values I believe in – which brought me to Macknade Fine Foods.
My journey time has reduced dramatically, giving me more time to play the drums and learn to play the guitar too. Most importantly, I can enjoy a better “work-life balance” (although I’m not sure my wife quite sees it that way when I’m playing!).
I’m an arsenal fan but also love rugby and motor racing.
The top five ingredients on my Macknade shopping list are...
Gorgonzola – I love the intense, creamy flavour when left out to melt. Great on crusty bread, together with a good port.
Kentish asparagus – Only available for a short time, I love this lightly steamed then tossed in butter and sea salt – there’s nothing better.
Black pudding – Not just for breakfast. Great for stuffing belly of pork, lamb loins and fantastic with sea bass.
Rump steak – Simply fried or grilled and served with a simple dressed salad enjoying the full flavour of the steak.
Red wine – I love a good, hard hitting quality red.
An interesting fact about myself is...
Back in the 80s, I worked as a trackside fire marshal at Brands Hatch in my spare time and in 1988, I attended Johnny Herbert’s terrifying F3000 multiple car race crash. I’m pleased to say he recovered and went on to race in F1, winning the British GP in 1995.
My last meal would be...
Good old fashioned bangers and mash, with a homemade onion gravy.
My food hero is...
My Mum. She was a fantastic cook and cake maker/decorator. Made the best roast dinners and home made crumbling fudge.
A recipe I'd like to share...
Ham Hock with Puy Lentils. I love this simple but tasty dish by Gary Rhodes…
Ingredients: 2 ham hocks, 1 onion quartered, 2 carrots quartered, 2 celery sticks cut into 3, a few fresh sprigs of thyme, a bay leaf and a handful of parsley.
For the lentils: 250gms Puy lentils, a large knob of butter, 1 onion, carrot and celery stick all finally diced.
Before starting the cooking process, first blanch the hocks to rinse away any impurities. To do this, just put the joints in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 minute, then carefully move the pan to the sink and drain off the hot water. Refresh the hams under cold running water for a minute or so, then tip out the water.
The cooking process can now begin. To the blanched hams in the pan, add the onion quarters, along with the quartered carrots and the celery sticks, the thyme and bay leaf. Pour in enough fresh cold water to cover and bring to a simmer. The pan can now be covered with its lid and the hams cooked, keeping the liquor at a gentle simmer for 3 hours.
To check if the hams are cooked, pull out the small bone close to the large one – it should be loose and come out easily. Rest hams in the stock for 15-20 minutes (30 minutes, ideally), so the meat softens and relaxes. Lift out the hams and set aside until cool enough to handle. Strain off 900ml of the ham stock into a jug and set aside. Reserve leftover stock.
Now prepare the lentils. First blanch them by plunging them into a pan of boiling water, then drain into a sieve and refresh under the cold tap. This process not only rinses the lentils well, but it also speeds up the entire braising process.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the diced onion, carrot and celery, cover the pan and cook without colouring for 5-6 minutes. Tip in the blanched lentils, then pour in the strained stock. Bring the lentils to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes – check occasionally and top up with more stock if needed – until tender. I prefer the braised lentils to have quite a loose final consistency without being over watery.
About 10 minutes before the lentils are ready, strip off the skin and fat from the hams with a knife, then remove the meat from the bones and cut it into rough pieces or shred it with your fingers. To serve, add the shredded ham and the coarsely chopped parsley to the lentils, and season with a twist of pepper. If you think you need a little more liquid, simply stir in an extra ladle or two of strained stock.
I save any left over stock and use it to make a leek and potato soup.