From field to BBQ to plate

I've been watching an Instagram account a lot lately called Hunter Gatherer Cooking Alex (who’s account it is) also has a YouTube channel that I find really interesting. There is so much content, from recipes to video series, that show the whole “beginning to end” process. Give the Grove Game Series a watch - it's fascinating. Alex and his posts have really made me think a lot about how I eat and where the food comes from. Fairly recently I noticed the chicken we had from a well know supermarket was really very poor. So my wife and I decided to make a small change and get as much meat as realistically possible from our local butchers. The cost to our food shop has gone up a bit but we have really noticed a huge improvement in the quality of the meat in our meals.

This is similar to my cook on Sunday (although I admit I didn’t do the killing or butchering). My close friend James has a small holding in Essex and for the last few years has bred sheep. As soon as the lamb are running around his field I always sign up for half of one.

The lamb James produces is nothing short of incredible and I think this is due to a number of reasons:

1 - The space the ewes and lamb have to roam around in.

2 - Absolutely no pesticides or anything else artificial has ever been on the field.

3 - They aren’t force fed or “fattened up”.

4 - Possibly even knowing the lamb have been well looked after and cared for.

Although if I’m being honest, I think the reason the meat is so good is a combination of all the above - I really do think this makes a massive difference.

I had a large lamb shoulder that James had given me, and as he and Jane were coming over I thought I cook it for them. I used my Big Green Egg and cooked it for six hours at around 250F.

I put two large sheets of foil in a baking tray and put in potatoes, carrots, garlic and some wedges of red onion with some rosemary and oregano. Then I placed the lamb shoulder directly on top of the vegetables and wrapped the foil to create a tight parcel.

The only thing I’d do differently would be to put some butchers paper between the foil and the vegetables as they did stick to the foil a bit - but still tasted great. I’ve seen so many videos of cooks simply pulling out the bone from the meat with hardly any effort, but this was the first time I’d managed to do it myself.

There is a new farmers market starting in a village close to me, so I think I’ll be paying it a visit to see if I can get some local produce for my upcoming cooks. It has given me an idea for a series of blogs I am going to do about cooking an entire meal with all of the ingredients bought from local farmers and suppliers - I’ll post on my instagram page when these are ready.

The rest of my week in cooks

My next cook was pizza rolls. These were ok but need some work. I sliced the rolls about two thirds down and into 6 segments and put mozzarella and pepperoni in the gaps. The rolls themselves were a bit over done so I’m thinking of doing them hotter and faster next time. Or lower and slower - I’ll experiment and come back with my findings.

I then went for a jerk chicken and coconut rice - a really good filling meal. There is definitely a way of cooking rice on a BBQ but definitely not how I did it! That got transferred very quickly to the hob and luckily it was rescued. In the end not a bad meal and once again enough left for some midweek lunches.

My last cook of the week really was a good one. I had wanted to try the wagyu burgers I won in the competition so a nice sunny evening seemed the perfect time to me. They didn’t disappoint. It must be the fat in the burgers but the taste was incredible. A world apart from any other burger I’ve tried. I will definitely be getting some more.

Thats a wrap for this week but next week is a big one. A cook for 30 people!

Thanks for reading

Stuart - bbqfestu