Beef traceability, at Marks & Spencer.

Do you shop at farmers markets? What do you love about them? I bet it’s the fact that you can stand face to face with the person who lovingly created that loaf of bread, block of cheese or chocolate brownie you’re going to buy? It makes us feel safe doesn’t it? The precise knowledge of where and how the product was made, whether that was on dairy farm in your local village, or at a kitchen table, cottage industry style.

What if you could walk into a supermarket & get that same, warm feeling as you handed over your hard earned cash? Well, Marks & Spencer are the only supermarket in the whole of the UK to be able to claim the crown when it comes to traceability of ALL of their beef. Every.Single.Product.

Steak & ale pie? Tick. Aberdeen Angus steak? Tick. Meatballs? Tick.

You see, marks & sparks(we’re mates you know!) take a DNA sample from every single animal on every single(British!)farm which supplies their beef. Not just a single sample, from one animal in the herd on one random farm. Oh no. Thousands of samples are being taken constantly, so that M&S KNOW for a FACT that their (very) strict welfare guidelines are being adhered to.

I don’t think it’s just the fact that we are are a farming family which makes this style of food production so exciting(we used to have a beef herd here on the farm in fact). Imagine how clear your conscience would be if you knew how every chicken you ever ate was reared, every joint of lamb you shared with family at easter? And-also crucially, how that animal moved through the supply chain. I know I would love it if that could become a reality in the future, & M&S are working hard to make this their reality!

Just look at the recent national ‘open farm Sunday’ event held across the country. The one we chose to go to on a local dairy farm was a huge success, with more than 2000 people visiting, that tells me that more so than ever before, people want to see what’s going on behind those shed doors, with their own eyes, and I believe that trust, should be earned, whether that’s in the farming industry or another integral part of our lives?

We were asked by Marks & Spencer if we’d like to try a couple of recipes using their beef(steak, to be precise).

The first, an amazing steak sandwich, which we ate al fresco on the evening of Nigel’s birthday. It was the perfect family meal, everyone digging in with their hands & chatting & laughing, a meal with all six of us together is rare, so it was lovely to make a real effort to enjoy these insanely good rib-eye steaks!!

(You’ll find the recipes for each dish at the bottom of this post)

Recipe 2 ‘Steak with salsa verde’was slightly more sophisticated, but still very tasty as a family meal for fussy kids!

I find where there’s a higher meat ratio in a recipe, the kids don’t seem to notice the veg sneaking in. So I served the steak with mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli, new potatoes & green beans.

Well, you couldn’t miss these huge rib eye steaks, having said that, Will still managed to polish off one to himself! (Not bad for a seven year old, I’ve trained him well!)

The beef was beautifully tender-Mr P said he could have cut it with a spoon, & that they were amongst the best steaks he’d ever had(coming from a former beef farmer, I think that’s pretty good going!)

I really hope this post has made you think a little more deeply about the process your food goes through before it arrives on the supermarket shelves. If you think you might like to have a go at one of these simple recipes, you’ll find them here;

Recipe 1:

The Ultimate Steak Sandwich (serves 2)

Ingredients

  • A knob of butter
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 5 sprigs thyme, (leaves picked)
  • A pinch of sugar
  • 75ml ale, such as Yorkshire Gold Ale
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Thick-cut steak, approximately 400g
  • 1 ciabatta
  • 2 slices extra-mature Cornish Cheddar
  • A handful of rocket leaves

Method

1 Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onions, thyme and sugar. Season with salt. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring, until softened. Add the ale and mustard, cook for 5 minutes.

2 Heat the oil in another frying pan and heat the grill to high. Season the steak and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side.

3 Slice the ciabatta in half and top the bottom half with the onions and cheese. Cook under the grill until the cheese has melted. Slice the steak and layer on top of the cheese. Finish with the rocket and the top half of bread.

Recipe 2:

Steak with Salsa Verde (SERVES 2)

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch caster sugar
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 0.5 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp capers
  • 3 anchovy fillets
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 15g fresh basil
  • 15g fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 British rib-eye steaks

PREPARATION

Pick and chop the fresh flat-leaf parsley. Pick and chop the fresh basil. Finely chop the garlic cloves. Finely chop the anchovy fillets. Drain and chop the capers.

METHOD

1 .To make the salsa verde, combine all the extra ingredients and season with black pepper(you might not need salt as the anchovies are salty). Set aside.

2 Heat a griddle pan until very hot. Meanwhile, pat the steaks dry with kitchen paper, brush them lightly with oil and season on both sides.

3 Remove the steaks from the pan and place them on a clean board. Cover loosely with foil and leave to rest for 5 minutes. Serve with a good spoonful of salsa verde.

Enjoy!

Kirsty x

*All of the ingredients mentioned were from our local Marks & Spencer store, do check out their summer ranges, everything was DELISH!

**Although this is not a paid campaign, we were kindly gifted the food featured in this post by Marks & Spencer. All of the opinions expressed are my own.

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