Cutlets Hall – A Guide to Castle Markets' Butchers
I love to shop at the butchers down at Castle Market…
From pork cheeks to fillet steaks, from chicken livers to pig trotters, there’s something for everyone and you’re bound to feel inspired after a trip down there.
Castle Market's butchers’ displays are heavenly; sumptuous cuts of beef, lamb and pork really do please the eye (and the tummy!) and it’s great to see very little packaged stuff on display. This means that you can have as much, or as little as you would like and you can pick the cut perfect for you.
Asking for quantities can seems a little daunting, but it really isn't. I work on the basis that a pound in weight is just under 500g (about 450g). It also helps me to think that an average pack of supermarket mince/diced meat is about 500g, so if I'm cooking something where I would usually use a pack of meat, I just ask for 500g or a pound. If you're buying chops or sausages or rashers you can just ask for the number you'd like (although you can also ask for a certain weight if you prefer). Steaks are worked on thickness (although the butchers will have a good go at getting a slice to a certain weight too) so let your butcher know how thick and juicy you'd like your steak before he gets the knife out.
In terms of the products on offer it's good to think outside the box (or the vacuum packaging) as you'll discover some real delights in trying new things. Why not pick up a bag of meaty bones next time you're buying your steak? It'll make a juicy stock that's so much better than any cube (just make sure to ask the stallholder whether they're fit for human consumption as a few stalls offer bones specifically for dogs). Alternatively, check out the prices of the offal and get some nose to tail eating going. And remember, if you are a bit unsure about anything, just ask! Castle Market's butchers are experts at what they do (these are people who've been plying their trade for decades in some cases – a far cry from the rapid turnaround that supermarkets often fall foul of) and will do their best to help you.
Anyway, you can pick over the bones of my favourite stalls in the run down below. Don't feel that you have to stick with my list though. There's a lot of stalls to choose from and you won’t go far wrong wherever you end up. Remember, I'll be telling you the number of each stall so that you can find them on the Sheffield City Council floor plan, or on the map by the entrance to the market.
W Bunting & Sons (Lock Up Stalls 2 &3)
When I first started shopping at Castle Market, Buntings appealed to me more than the rest, mainly because of its array of offal (I was on a mission to save money at the time). There are lamb's hearts (which sell for around 50p each and are really tasty when cooked to this recipe), ox hearts, pig’s livers, lamb’s livers, oxtail, kidneys and tongue. The thing I really like about the offal from this stall is that, despite its low pricing, it’s displayed as well as any other cut on offer, giving it the respect it deserves. Butcher, Dean and co will offer top tips on cooking everything, but if you are really interested in cooking offal then I recommend Fergus Henderson’s Nose to Tail Eating book for recipe ideas.
It’s not all offal though and there’s a good selection of sausages and burgers available too. If you’re after steak then Buntings will sort you out as they have rib-eye, fillet, rump, sirloin and T-bone steaks all lined up on the counter ready for slicing to your required thickness. My favourite is the rib-eye and although it’s not cheap I love how I can get it sliced as thick as my budget will allow. Other favourites include the pork chops (which are huge and come with or without the rind) and lamb steaks (which I ask to be sliced in half so that I can chargrill them at home). There’s a lot of roasting joints available and I’ll always get my legs of lamb from here. Many of the bigger cuts are already priced up too – so no nasty surprises when it comes to paying!
Peter Morley’s Meats (Lock Up Stalls 44 & 45)
Peter Morley specialises in poultry and offal. It’s not the most attractive looking stall and the butchers are pretty miserable to be honest, but it is THE BEST place for chicken hearts and livers. It’s all fresh whereas some other stalls sell it part frozen and at around 98p a pound, it’s an absolute bargain. Chicken livers are great cooked in a marsala sauce, but I like to use them in this pate recipe. It’s easy to make, cheap and delicious! As for the hearts I’ve cooked them in stews but I want to have a go at barbequing them one day.
Ham hocks are available here, priced very reasonably at around £1.60 each. They’ve been salted so need to be soaked in cold water overnight before cooking, but each one will serve at least four and the meat can be stretched even further if you plan to make a pea and ham soup at the same time (or sort out the leftovers with a dry rub. My favourite way to cook ham hock is to boil it and then roast it with a honey and mustard glaze. Look out for pork cheeks too (around 50p each). The only downside to these beauties is that they take a while to butcher as the cheek meat is sold with the jowl attached (which is no bad thing as the organised cook will use the jowl to make guinciale, or Roman pancetta). Check out my blogpost over at Feast & Glory on cooking pork cheeks – it comes with a bit of guidance on how to prepare the meat, along with a tasty recipe.
Waterall Bros Ltd (Lock Up Stall 11 & 12)
Wateralls is a pork butchers, so head there for your bacon, sausages and pork joints. The selection of bacon is good and each piece is huge, about twice the length of normal supermarket stuff. It’s also very well priced. There are big fat sausages available too so this is a perfect place for stocking up on all your cooked breakfast goodies. Pork pies and cooked ham hocks are also on sale; perfect for cold packed lunches.
I especially like Wateralls for their pork roasting joints. A selection of sizes are on offer and they’re all set out in the display unit marked up with the weight and the price so you can pick whichever one you want. The best thing about this place is that their prices include a dipping in a brine mixture. This is known to help keep the meat moist throughout cooking and add to the flavour; a service you won’t get at your local supermarket. If you don’t want your meat dipping then they’ll knock 50p off the price, although I do recommend that you give it a try.
Anthony Andrews (Open Stall 28)
Anthony Andrews is actually a fishmonger, but like a lot of fishmongers, they specialise in game too. It’s all very seasonal though so there isn’t anything on offer at the moment, but come autumn there will be pheasants, partridges and pigeons on sale. The staff there are really friendly and helpful, so if you need some tips for preparing and cooking game then fire away.
Out of season you’ll find a selection of poultry and offal and I love that they stock boiler chickens. These are old egg-layers so they’re quite tough old birds and although I can only assume they’re not free range, I think the least we can do is show them a little respect and make the most of them and their tough lives once they have been slaughtered; either that or they’re probably just destroyed – what a waste! The carcass needs to be boiled for a few hours and the meat is only good for stews and soups and the like, but they are very cheap and worth a go.
Others worthy of a mention
Ellis’ (Open Stalls 37 & 38) is another pork butcher who does great sausages including hickory smoked sausages. Castle Fish (Open Stall 3) is another fishmonger selling game as well as fish and it stocks rabbit all year round. Simmonite’s (Open Stalls 15 & 16) sells a lot of prepared meat such as Chinese ribs, chicken kievs, peppered steaks and the like. Castle Food First (Open Stall 1) has a great selection of goat. There’s a wide variety of cuts with meat both on and off the bone, just make sure you buy ahead as the meat is all frozen.
This is just a taste of what’s available down there and I'd love to find out your Castle Market tips in the comments section below. If you have any questions then tweet me at @FeastAndGlory or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do my best to answer them.
Look out for my next post where I'll take you round the best fish and seafood stalls…
Photography by Marek Payne.