I’ve been writing a number of reviews for Google Places recently and by way of thanks for all my hard work (I’m so industrious at times) I was invited to an evening of canine marvelling at Hudson Meats. What commenced was a night two parts butchery demonstration and one part food banter in the salubrious and, frankly, sexy store on Crown Street.
Armed with a vino bianco in hand I get acquainted with the sight of a large Suffolk lamb on the table; initially confronting but increasingly fascinating. I instantly name her Mary and learn that she flew in from South Australia earlier that day after retiring from a 7 month life of grass eating and lambs play.
There is a delicatessen quality to the store and I sense we are in good hands here. Jeff (co-owner with partner Colin), Jonathan (butcher) and Diana (3rd year gold medal winning apprentice) welcome us – smiles and knives gleaming.
Whilst the first of the major cuts take place (removing the fore and hind legs, which effectively splits Mary into thirds) we discuss Hudson’s bring-the-farmer-to-the-customer ethos. It’s all about relationships. Something so simple seems to me almost poetic compared to clinical food experiences found in establishments beginning with c and ending in oles.
Next each pair of legs is halved providing two forequarters and two hindquarters. Leaving them aside momentarily Jonathan sections up the middle third, this is the home of lamb ribs and lamb breasts amongst other cuts. Both these mid-section cuts are currently popular for the first time in decades thanks to the nose-to-tail eating habits which are permeating the average home kitchen. In previous year these cuts were sold for loose change or given away as dog meat, now they are amongst the best-selling cuts.
After the lamb demonstration we are introduced to the distinguished dry-aged grass-fed beef. If double barrelled names signify dignity then this cut is practically royalty; many a hatted restaurant will have a dry-aged beef on their menu. Six weeks dried on the bone, the process of dry-ageing means a loss of 20% more meat than non-dried meats, which accounts for it higher price. I’m told that what you gain for that 20% loss is an elegance of flavour and tenderness that is worth any premium.
After the closure of many butchers, deli’s and other specialty food stores in the early 80’s when large supermarkets were introduced, we are finally seeing a re-emergence of food purveyors with whom you can have a relationship, and learn from. The recent contagion of celebrity chefs and food shows have regenerated the trade, and no longer are we customers content with blank stares when we ask what meat goes best with a strong blue cheese, or which cut is best for a slow roast. Butchery as a profession is making a comeback, and Hudson’s are set to be the Britney Spears of this comeback tour.
Hudson staff top 3 meat tips:
- Roast Meat: it can’t be expressed too strongly how important it is to rest your meat. Turn off that oven, crack the door open with a wooden spoon and let the roast sit for at least 15 minutes before eating it. Failure to do this will guarantee a tough and dry roast.
- Cooking Steaks: steak keeps cooking for 10 minutes after it’s taken off the heat, so don’t remove it when it looks perfectly cooked, remove it when it looks a couple of shades rarer than your taste. In Jonathan’s words: have a full beer whilst it rests, then eat your steak (no beer sculling).
- Never Cook Cold Meat: Rule number three is to never ever, not even if your life depends on it, cook cold meat. It has to be room temperature to cook evenly throughout so take it out or refrigeration about an hour before you want to cook it.
A huge thanks to Anna from Google Places and to the whole team at Hudson Meats.
410 Crown Street, Surry Hills, 2010
(also stores in Cammeray, Lane Cove & Mosman)