Stop pretending to know you know your beef!Advertisement Advertisement
A lot of us acknowledge we don’t know. Many of us think we know. And there’s others who pretend to know!
Yet the question still remains: do we really, really know what constitutes quality beef?
That’s the question a Muslim family-run business has been endeavouring to answer as part of its mission to raise awareness of a distinct lack of quality and consistency across the UK’s Halal beef industry.
Hartwood Foods is a speciality purveyor of beef that has established a state of the art, integrated, meat processing plant that’s been fully approved by the Halal Monitoring Committee (HMC).
Nevertheless, while it guarantees an entirely transparent supply chain for its premium 35 day dry-aged beef, the Bedfordshire-based company maintains that the real solution lies in educating both consumers and suppliers of what truly constitutes “quality” Halal beef.
How many people, for instance, are aware of, let alone understand, the UK’s grading system? How about the aging process, types of breeds, and the extent of “marbling” of beef? And perhaps most importantly, given their popularity, how many local butchers would know?
‘GOLDEN REGION’ OF CARCASE CLASSIFICATION
All carcasses over 8- and under 24-months are classified using an EU-wide ‘Union Scale’. With six classes of Conformation and five of Fat Cover, there exists what’s known as the “golden region”, which ranges between excellent and good quality (E, U, R), and average to high fat cover (3-4), that ought to be understood and recognised when looking for high quality beef carcasses.
|Conformation Class||Carcase Quality||Fat Class||Fat Cover|
Highlighted above is the “golden region” of the EU’s ‘Union Scale’, that classifies carcasses under 6 classes of Conformation and 5 of Fat.
BREED OF COWS & 'MARBLING’
While many will have heard of Angus, Hartwood Foods insists that there’s many more just as good that people simply aren’t aware of, such as, the rare English Longhorn, Limousin, Charolais, or Hereford, among others.
When it comes to recognizing quality cuts of beef, then the ability of interpreting the ‘marbling’ of beef is arguably the single most relevant and important factor for many consumers.
Taking the most popular cuts, what should be identified in a ribeye, for example, is the quantity of fat visible in the steak’s ‘eye’, which should be no less than the area of 20 pence coin and no more than that of a 10 pence.
As for a sirloin, then it ought to have faint streaks of fat running through the meat, with anything more identifying it as too fatty.
DRY-AGED V. WET-AGED
While it is mandatory, by law, for beef to be aged a minimum of 14-days, the process itself is needed to eradicate the naturally occurring metallic taste for its more familiar gamey flavour.
The basic difference between the two processes of dry-aged and wet-aged is the environment in which the beef is aged, with the former occurring outside in a controlled cooler and the latter in a refrigerator after being vacuum sealed.
Although wet-aged is the conventional method, its counterpart provides a far tastier and meatier product, and hence the reason for its dearer price range.
35 DRY-AGED BEEF - FRESH OR BLAST FROZEN
Hartwood Foods offers beef carefully dry-aged for up to 35-days at its onsite maturation unit, before its expert butchers, who boast over 30 years of experience, utilise specialist artisan techniques to create outstanding cuts, which are then packaged and readied for delivery – fresh (on request) or frozen.
While fresh meat is immediately available (on request), the company also ‘blast freezes’ its meat to -40°C, in order to optimally preserve its integrity and maintain its freshness, thereby retaining both flavour and moisture for far longer than conventional refrigeration.
When Hartwood Foods says it goes the “extra mile” at sourcing “only the finest quality beef from UK and Irish farmers” that’s “naturally reared and grass-fed”, you better believe it!
What you’ll get is the most superior grade of beef available, derived from younger cattle under 24-months, and covered in just the right quantity of fat marbling to guarantee maximum tenderness, flavour and fine texture.
It is for this reason that upscale Halal steakhouses and high-end restaurants are turning to Hartwood Foods.
While it’s true that quality doesn’t come cheap, there shouldn’t be a price to pay when dealing with the issue of food and health, knowing precisely where your meat has come from, and that it’s met the highest standards of Halal slaughter.
In all, Hartwood Foods offers the following selection of steaks and beef products:
Types of Steaks
- Rib Eye
Visit their website now to learn more about the high standards they maintain at
- Open Monday to Friday from 8.30am–4pm.
- Free delivery is available on orders over £75.00.
- Next day delivery for orders received by 12pm (delivery days: Tuesday to Friday).
Sponsored by: Hartwood Foods