Multicultural Meals

Multicultural Meals

 

What is a traditional Australian cuisine today? The meals many of us grew up on have changed, the flavours have become more advanced since gravy and brown onion sauces or the good old honey soy marinated that we drowned chicken pieces, beef strips and anything we thought would sell in our shops and called it “something new”.

We still eat those meals that are meat and three veg however they have become a lot more technical, the flavours we have adapted from all over the world have become “Modern Australian Cuisine.” Meat and three vege is now known as a stir-fry, fresh, tasty and easy to cook.

Australia is a melting pot of various nationalities, with strong Asian/ Indian influenced cuisines, after all Australia is surrounded by some of the best tropical island paradises and popular holiday destinations the thirst for our neighbour’s flavours is savoured by many Aussies. Let`s face it, who does not like a great Chinese meal? The majority of us would have a favourite Chinese restaurant close to home or like me happy to drive to the next suburb to pick up my favourite delicious dishes.

It is not just Chinese anymore, we have Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Singapore, Korean, and Japanese there are other cuisines that fall into that category. I remember my first Thai experience many years ago in Sydney, I had no idea what I was ordering, I tried a soup to start with and it had all this green herb swimming in it and it stunk like smelly socks, I didn’t finish it but I will never forget my first encounter with Coriander…. I love it today but boy; it did not make a good first impression.   

Spicy, zingy, fresh flavours along with a range of herbs represent those Asian cuisines and the dishes are usually chicken or pork. Butchers often find using chicken as the main protein in quick cook dishes convenient, it is tender however; it is the sauce that gives the dish its flavour. Beef and lamb also make a great quick cook meal; beef and lamb primals can add more flavour and texture and a great substitute for chicken.  

Australian lamb has a delicate sweet flavour that will stand out in many dishes, using any of the leaner leg cuts for the quick cook stir fry`s, then using the shoulders for those Malaysian / Indian curries where they are cooked for a few hours.

Australian beef is also widely used for stir fry`s and slow cooks. MSA graded butt cuts such as knuckles, rumps and insides are perfect for stir fry`s. Blades are also a great alternative but a little more work seaming out the sinew and silver skin. You could even try using the heel muscles (mouses ear), once you remove the tendon and separate the silver skin the meat is easy to slice and very tender. If you want to use rumps for a stir fry, look out for the Rostbiff (HAM 2110) it’s the rump with the cap removed, little fat on top and reasonably priced, otherwise use whole rumps and pull the cap off and sell it separately as a Rump cap or Picanha (Brazilian name) for roasting or steaks.

Asian butchers have a great way of packaging fresh and frozen thin sliced meats. Usually on a 7 x 5 tray sliced a couple of mm thick and each tray weighing roughly 200grams. Thin sliced meat goes a long way in traditional Asian meals, having the thin sliced meat neatly layer packed and ready to go along with the fresh vegetables that accompany these dishes, lots of green Bok Choy, beans, carrots, bean sprouts, celery, capsicum, and broccoli or a pack of rice noodles and do not forget the sauce!!

Enjoy

Posted 6/10/2021

Breaking down beef cuts

Breaking down beef cuts

What is a beef Sub Primal?

Have you looked at ways of making more out of some of the beef primals that you have in your fridges or offering a different size steak that suit the “smaller portion” customers without breaking the bank?

Part of the Meat Standards Australia (MSA) grading program shows us how to sub primal various beef muscles by separating a large primal like a whole rump and breaking it down into its “sub primals”, those smaller muscle that make up the large primals.

There are approximately 11 cuts of beef suitable for sub primalling; this includes both fore and hind shin meat that separate into individual muscles for use in a variety of delicious Asian dishes for use as a thin slice or stir fry or slow cooked.

Other cuts that have sub primals are, brisket, chuck, blade, rump, shortloin, cube roll, outside flat, knuckle, inside and then you have the three main flanks; external flank plate, internal flank plate and flank steak.

Why would you break down a cube roll? The cube roll is often sub primaled for export markets, the spinalis or cube roll plate, (the extremely tender and well marbled piece of beef that is located at the chuck end of the cube roll) that covers the rib eye muscle is removed and is in high demand for the foodservice sector in a variety of export markets. Domestically we just would not do that, unless asked… well maybe, I have never seen the spinalis offered for sale in a butcher shop in my 44 years in the trade and never been asked for it.

I think the most valuable muscles to sub primal are the chuck, blade and whole rump. Chucks are an amazing primal that suit a slow cook/braise, thin slice, stir fry, roasting and even a grill. Not all chucks will suit those cook methods, a grass fed chuck just won’t perform using some of those cook methods unless it is a GRADED chuck, I prefer to use a grain fed chuck, preferably a long fed or even a Wagyu chuck roll. Not a whole chuck either (unless you are looking for diced or trim) a chuck roll is what I go for.

The chuck roll can be broken down into several delicious cuts, chuck log, chuck plate, (covers the chuck eye log) chuck rib meat and the crest. We have used a Wagyu chuck roll for snacking food at an Australian Butchers Guild value adding night a few years back. The chuck eye (has part of the cube roll in it as it runs through the chuck) was  sliced into steaks that is  known as the Delmonico and the meat that covers that chuck eye log also sliced into steaks called a Denver Rib steak.

The steaks were served up medium/ rare to a group of hungry butchers who were amazed at how well this secondary cut ate as a grill. Remember all the trim can be utilised as mince for Wagyu burgers or sausages etc. Be careful what you use if you are going to try this, stick to my recommendation when you do this and use grain fed or Wagyu for best results however feel free to try using other grades if it doesn’t sample well at least you can still dice or mince it.

The most valuable primal is the whole rump that can be broken down into six different sub primals using fresh body beef or 5 sub primals from a "D" rump.

You can create smaller leaner tender portions instead of one large slice of rump that eats a little different throughout the steak. The tri tip is usually removed first, great as a roast, thin slice or steaked. The tri tip is also a popular piece of beef in the USA, butchers prepare the cut into matchbox-sized chunks and marinated ready for the bbq.

The rump cap also known as a Picanha, great sliced into steaks or roasted whole, the small pillow is removed from the underside of the rump centre or Rostbiff (AUSMEAT cut description). The pillow is separated into two pieces one part is good for mince the other piece with silver skin on it eats extremely well as a grill.

Separate the Rostbiff into two, rump eye-side muscle and the rump centre by following the layer of connective tissue that separates the two muscles. The rump eye looks similar to a slice of eye fillet, is very tender has no external fat cover and is a nice small portion sized steak. The rump centre is a good-sized steak, I leave the fat cap on this, and the fat gives the steak that extra bit of flavour.

There is a bit of work doing this but it gives your customers more variety to choose from and gives you another talking point in your window.

 

Posted 20/9/2021    

Dry Ageing Options

Dry Ageing Options

Dry ageing meat has become very popular with butchers and their customers. Some butchers have invested a significant amount of money into dry ageing coolrooms and portable dry ageing machines.

I love to walk into a shop that has beef hanging in a dry ager, certain fungal (mould) species are creating a rich and funky flavour while the enzymes are slowly breaking down the meat fibres leaving a tender cut of meat ready for a customer to take home and enjoy.

You should use fresh beef when dry aging beef, vac packed beef will still work however; the meat tends to get a green tinge around the outside of the primal. Once sliced that green tinge can become more prominent especially if the vac packed meat already has some age on it when you purchase it.

Bone in or boneless fresh beef is a better option to use when dry ageing. Leaving the meat on the bone is a more profitable option especially rib eye`s, rumps and shortloins. Meat with less exposed surface area will retain more moisture and limit the amount of waste that needs to be trimmed, that is why I prefer bone in.

If you are ageing shortloins, remove the tenderloin and just leave all the bone on the shortloin. Tenderloins are already tender and may possibly dry out too much in the ageing process, especially if you are ageing for a particularly long period. For beef rib sets, leave the chine and feather bones on, remove the short ribs, you possibly cannot get enough of those, make sure you leave enough rib bones on the rib set in case you need a dry aged standing rib roast or rib eye cutlets.

If a dry ager is a bit out of reach and you would like to dabble in it, for around $150, you can buy a small domestic vacuum packaging machine (Food Saver) and some “Dry Age” bags. The dry age bags work a treat. No mess no special refrigeration, vac the piece of meat and place it on a rack in the fridge fat side up, so air can circulate around the bag for the required amount of time (usually 30 days is enough).

Dry age bags actually breathe, the material of the bag creates a bond with the natural proteins in the meat, allowing moisture and oxygen exchange while ensuring the ageing process is free from risk of contamination.

Why not try selling “pre-aged” beef in your shops, you can start the process and have the primals (half or whole) sealed in the dry age bags in your cabinets, this could attract new clientele and create something different to talk to your customers about, especially the foodies! Just give your customers the tips on storage, trimming etc so customers can finish the ageing at home easily. 

I have used boneless pieces of beef, bone in beef pierce the bags too easily. Primals like striploins and cube rolls, rump caps and the rost biff are an easy and popular option.

I turned a carton of very disappointing striploins into some extremely enjoyable steaks in 20 days using the bags. Recently I dry aged a corner cut of topside to see if that cut can improve, after 75 days and a bit of trimming I pan fried a couple of the steaks and to my surprise ate comparably to a good scotch or sirloin. The Topside had a nice flavour and still had the characteristic of being dry, overall it exceeded my expectations however 75 days is excessively long to wait for a nice steak. You could try this at 30 days or more if you are keen or just 

For more information on wet and dry ageing, see the “Art of Dry Ageing” in the Butchery section here in the Australian Butchers Guild website.

 

Posted 2/09/2021

Do you have any Veal?

Do you have any Veal?

How many butchers have veal in your windows today? I have not seen a great deal of veal around on my travels in the past, mainly Osso Buco in the cooler months, schnitzels and whole veal rumps and I would rarely find the odd fresh veal carcass hanging in the fridge.

Is supply an issue or is it customer demand? There is a misconception with some consumers that veal butchers are selling is bobby veal and avoid it for a variety of reasons; however, that is not what the majority of butchers are selling.

Veal weight classifications as per the AUSMEAT Handbook are as follows

  • Light Veal (Bobby) under 40KG
  • Light Veal 40.1kg – 70kg
  • Veal 70.1 – 150kg

Most cartoned veal is from that 70.1kg to 150kg carcass weight range that some butchers object that it is not real veal. Unless you are receiving bobby veal or light veal carcasses, the 70.1 to 150kg range is all that is available in carton form and technically, is still veal.

The larger veal carcasses eats very well as a roast, schnitzel, steak, veal chop/T-bone and braises. It is a healthier option for people looking to avoid fat or just looking for a small sweet tender piece of red meat.

Leg primals are possibly the most economical way to put veal in the cabinet. The entire muscle group suit roasting, braises, stir fry or schnitzels.

Why not try veal again if you have dropped it off your range, crumbed veal schnitzels are always a time saver for the busy customer, or make up veal cordon bleu or something special like veal saltimbocca. We have easy value added recipes in the Beefing and Racking up your profits manual; simply substitute the beef for veal topside or silverside. These Cordon Bleu`s were a popular favourite in my old shop many years ago, we would fill the tray up ready for the after school rush and we always had to make more by the end of the day.

 

https://www.australianbutchersguild.com.au/butchery/value-adding/value-adding-recipes/value-adding-recipes/recipe-beef-cordon-bleu/

 

Posted 19/8/2021

Underrated Cuts of Beef

Underrated Cuts of Beef

I recall many years ago when I was a young apprentice taking a few BBQ blade steaks home for the weekend family bbq. Unfortunately my dad did not appreciate my gesture and demanded in future that I “bring home T-bones or Rump steak; we don’t eat those” he said. I wish he were still with us now; because I think I could change his mind.

The Oyster Blade is possibly the most under rated beef cut. Many butchers who use carcasses will cut BBQ blade steaks or Y Bone steaks from this section, these steaks consist of the chuck tender, under cut and oyster blade along with the scapular bone, popular steaks for a grill, bbq or even braised.

However, for those who bone out the blade it may not be as profitable, the chuck tender and under cut would possibly go into mince or diced beef and the scapular bone set aside for stocks or dog bones. Luckily, butchers can buy cartoned beef and oyster blades are quite economical and easy to source most of the year.

Oyster blades are such an economical and versatile beef primal. Oysters can be roasted in the piece, or seamed and rolled up with a stuffing mix inside so it looks similar to a rolled beef roast or just sliced into steaks for the grill or bbq and it makes a fantastic, tender braising steak.

The Oyster blade has that long flat sinew that runs through the middle of the muscle, the sinew can be a bit chewy when the steaks are grilled however, it breaks down to a soft gel if it is slow cooked in a braise or casserole. The meat on either side of the sinew has a unique beefy flavour and is one of the more consistently tender beef cuts derived from the carcass.

You can also cut one of the “trending” beef cuts from the oyster blade called the “Flat Iron” steak. This popular steak is found on many menu`s throughout North America and I have enjoyed lot of flat iron`s over the years from many restaurants in the US and have yet to have a tough one. It is a very forgiving piece of beef that will eat well whether it`s rare, medium or cremated!

To cut a flat iron from an oyster blade it can be a little tricky at first but after the first few you get will the hang of it. First, remove any scapular cartilage from the underside, and then remove the fat and silver skin from the top. You will notice some extra sinew on the head (thick end) of the oyster blade try and remove as much of these as possible. 

Start butterflying the oyster at the thick end using the thick sinew as a guide; follow the sinew all the way through the muscle; then repeat the process on the other side or you can lay the oyster sinew down on the block and skin it as if you are skinning a fish fillet. You will find directions on how to cut a Flat Iron steak under the “Butchery” section and “How Too” of the ABG website under Whole Blade. https://youtu.be/fxe7LVvGNNQ

Flat Iron steak is so tender, juicy and has plenty of flavour without the sinew or fat. The “Flat Iron” tends to puff up a little when cooking and can be a little tricky guessing the degree of doneness, if your open to a rare steak or (heavens forbid) prefer a well done piece of beef you will enjoy it either way.

The oyster makes a great kebab as well. Trim off the fat and external silver skin and scapular cartilage, slice it and dice it into good-sized cubes to suit a beef kebab. Marinate the beef if you like and simply add your favourite vege like capsicum, mushrooms, onion or whatever you like to the skewer for the bbq or grill and you have a mighty fine meal for those lucky customers.

There you go; economical, versatile and still rated as tender and juicy, roasted, diced, steaked or even strips for a stir-fry the Oyster Blade is one of those gems that will please anyone’s budget. 

imagerakra.pngimagevok3.png

Posted 10/8/2021

 

 

Butcher? Apprentice? Chef?

Butcher? Apprentice? Chef?

More state lockdowns and lockouts appear to be the new norm for Australians. Butchers have been given an excellent opportunity to get back on your feet and increase butchers market share of the fresh meat trade and on the other side the foodservice sector have been crippled by the worldwide pandemic.

There are many talented chefs currently pondering what the future will bring for them and how uncertain times will be moving forward.

If you are one of the fortunate butchers who have been able to grow and maintain your business and wondering how you can sustain the long hours, you have been doing due to labour shortages in the trade there may be an unseen benefit.

If you have not been able to find a young apprentice butcher, have you thought about employing either a chef or a mature aged apprentice, someone with food skills. There could be quite a number of chefs around who may be an asset to your business.

A chefs life is a hard one, some of them have to work evenings, breakfasts, lunches or all meals, weekends just like a butcher, but a split shift would be something I certainly would not like.

Have you looked at employing a chef to join your team? They are used to working long hours, most have some meat knowledge, good knife skills, good hygiene and above all cooking knowledge, they can give your customers cooking tips and suggestions of what else will go with their meals. Many of these tradesmen and women can hit the ground running then you will need to invest time teaching them the rest of the trade.

A chef can be an asset to your business. Add value to your range of fresh value added products (pastries, marinades, stir fry’s, wet dishes etc), as well as give you some great ideas for a variety of flavours and combinations for your sausage and burger or meatball trade, or even branch out into an instore-cooked range of meat products.

Many butchers have fully qualified chefs who have also completed their butchery apprenticeship working for them. These people can make your life so much easier and bring a lot of value to your business. They are the experts at reducing waste in your business by utilizing everything right down to the fat.

The shops I have seen that employ a chef are all thriving; the shops do not smell of fresh meat or hypo anymore, mouth-watering aromas of cooked foods hit you as you enter the shop. A great range of cooked and/or raw products displayed in the window, stylish window displays using different garnishes rather than curly leaf parsley and fruit.

 

Posted 26/7/2021

Beef Burgers

Beef Burgers

 

 

I have to say I love a great beef burger! Juicy and full of flavour squeezed inside a freshly baked burger roll with fresh salad, pickles and plenty of my favourite Thai Sriracha sauce, its making my mouth water right now!

I love the different flavours and textures that butchers are creating when it comes to judging the butchers beef burger competitions at the AMIC Sausage King competitions. I still remember a burger I sampled at a Burger comp in Victoria a few years ago and it was a simple coarse grind brisket burger with salt and pepper, I could taste the brisket and the seasoning was spot on. There are some great butchers doing some amazing things and take great pride when creating these juicy and tasty bread roll fillers.

What type of beef cuts do you have in your burger? Most would be using trim, fresh or frozen, from 70cl to 95cl, a mix of various beef cuts from the carcass and there is certainly nothing wrong with that, after all that’s what you are getting from the local burger restaurants.

Why not call out what is in your burgers or meatballs and raise the profile of the humble beef burger. Blend cuts like chuck and short rib or brisket and chuck, or even some of the butt cuts like topside and knuckle, this gives you an opportunity to get a premium price because you are using different cuts, these beef cuts all have different attributes, either texture and or flavour.

Try wrapping them individually, have some beef burger stickers made up that tells the story of what is inside the wrapper i.e. “Chuck and Short Rib” Beef Burger or for a bit of fun “Knuckle Burger” or “Top Burger”. Use your imagination to get the customers to notice and do not forget your shop name this will give you that point of difference.

Many butchers have a smoke house in their shops, that lie idle for a lot of the time or a smoker at home, try cold smoking some burgers, natural wood smoke has a far superior flavour than a smokey flavoured liquid spritz that burns off once it hits the hot plate or grill. Keep the temperature as low as possible and chill before vacuum packing.

Vacuum packaging the smoked burgers for your customers will retain the natural smoke flavour and enable you to freeze them for a few months without losing and of the flavour.

 

Posted 23/7/2021

Stocks & Broths

Stocks & Broths

Winter has well and truly set in, customers always look for those winter warmer meals and comfort foods and soups are a favourite in many households (especially mine)

Stocks and Broths are very popular, in particular broths. If you have the time and product maybe look at making your own version, it is popular; I was in my local supermarket the other week and I noticed a shopper clearing the shelves of an “all natural” broth that was on special for $8.00 per 500ml, she bought the whole shelf full!

It is easy to make, takes very little effort, and is very profitable and overall a healthy homemade option for your customers.

If your finding you have a bit of excess trim; not so much as lean mince or sausage trim, which you are possibly scratching around to find that, (if it is going anything like last year, depending on the states you are all in) but any bones (marrow being the best) chuck bones and even rib bones, anything will do even sinew and cartilage (these add a gelatinous texture once they melt down). Fire up the copper or large casserole pots and make yourself some homemade stock or broth.

There is not a great deal of difference between stock and broth, the only difference is broth is made from meat and vegetables and stock is made from bones and vegetables. The bones will make a thicker stock whereas the meat and vegetables make a thinner broth that has more flavour.

The secret for both is to brown off the meat and or bones, the more caramelisation you can get the stronger beefy the flavour. Roughly chop the vege’s (carrots, onions, celery) add your water and simmer away for a several hours, the longer it simmers the deeper the flavour. Remove the bones and strain the liquid through a cheesecloth and chill before either putting it into containers to sell it in liquid form or freeze it.

Make sure you tell your customers that it is made fresh in your premises. If you are in doubt about any food safety regulations make sure you contact your local regulatory body before you start.   

 

Bon Appetit!!

Photography

Photography

If you are having trouble finding content to post on your social pages and or website there are many available online. Some images are free and some can only be used if you purchase subscriptions from sites like Getty Images, iStock, Dreamtime etc.

Be careful if you are downloading someone else’s work and if you are, make sure you get their permission in writing so you are covered. If you are paying to have images taken using a photographer be sure the agreement states that you will own them outright, so you can continue to use them anywhere you like.  

If you are taking your own photos or video`s look at what can be seen in the background. Use clean trays, dishes or wooden cutting boards and utensils to present and style the meat, be aware of what is in the background of your photo, do not take photos on a dirty stained bench top with coffee mugs in the background, be professional. Make sure the product looks fresh (a light spray of oil can make the meat pop) meat is trimmed and use fresh garnish as required, avoid shadows over the image and any signage is clean and easy to read.

If you are taking photos that include someone from your team or their hands are in the shot, make sure their shirt and aprons are clean and maybe have them wear rubber gloves to present meat when doing a close up. Take photos of staff from the waist up, butchers boots are not the most attractive piece of PPE especially with lumps of fat stuck to them.

Raw or cooked shots?

What are you trying to sell your customers? Are you trying to promote a meal idea like a roast, casserole or stir-fry? Look at cooked images rather than raw, cooked images offer inspiration, memories and comfort where as a raw product does not. Raw images are more suitable for an order form on your website. Keep the raw images on a consistent background. You can use wooden cutting boards, plastic boards, plates, dishes bowls or even use new laminated or vinyl floorboard as a background, some of these have a cool grain and colour.

Social Media & Websites

Social Media & Websites

Many butchers use social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram to communicate with their customers. Telling the stories about what they have on offer for the day/week, new products, new employees even investments they have made to enhance their businesses like fit outs, new machinery etc and they do it professionally. Then others tend to go off the rails a bit using social media to show some very weird acts that go on in their stores forgetting the reason why they set out to use social media in the first place.

Some butchers forget that their customers and potentially “new customers” follow them and look at their pages for inspiration and ideas for that quick and easy meal solution or something special they can cook up for their family or friends. Instead of being inspired to go and buy something, they are horrified at some of the antics that go on and the language used in some of the posts. Then there are those “key board warriors” who post negative things on other industry pages, guess what, these pages are not private pages in most cases, your customers may be following these pages as well or show up as a notification that “Fred has posted a comment on …. page”. Imagine how they would feel seeing some of the derogative remarks that are directed towards fellow butchers or customers about things like loyalty.

A lot of what I am seeing lately is a lack of positive comments and encouragement to the younger people who have entered the trade, who are proud of their first rolled roast or tray of lamb cutlets. These apprentices are proud of what they have done and encouragement goes a long way, we have a huge shortage of apprentices coming through and no wonder why when all some want to do is criticise. Remember these people are the future of our industry and without them coming through the ranks, butchers will be even harder to find. Be positive and sensitive to the people who may not be as skilled or have the experience or knowledge as you; offer constructive, supportive advice.

It is so important to avoid being caught up in the moment…. Okay….. You may feel the need to vent your anger from time to time, or feel that we have been let down, be careful and think twice before you post or comment on it, or do what I do, type out the response, sit on it for 5 minutes, think about the possible repercussions and then delete it! Remember these comments are out there forever!

Use social media platforms to engage with customers or your target markets, think about who may see your posts and what can you put up to encourage them to shop with you. We see some fantastic photography from butchers, nice clean meat shots and well-presented videos and very proud of what they do. Social media can be an effective tool when used correctly however if you want to encourage customers to shop with you create a website and use social media to direct them to it to order.

Building a websites is probably outside of a lot of our comfort zones, myself included. If you do some research, look at some of the online website builders, you should get an estimate of what kind of website you need and an approximate cost. You will need to factor in the cost of keeping the website updated to keep your customers engaged and you can still use social pages for that as well, so if you haven’t; give yourself a marketing budget each year and use it for that. I remember talking with a very successful butcher in Victoria about 10 years ago, on a Red Meat Networking Club tour, he told me he puts aside $40K a year for marketing, I questioned, “that was a lot of money how can you afford that?” His response was, “I have a lot of money invested in my business, I cannot I afford not too”, and yes, he is still thriving in business today.

The events of the past 18 months have changed the way many shoppers purchase everything. You would have been affected as well in your own shopping habits. The retail chains have seen a huge increase in online ordering, however even though their fresh meat sales are strong there are still queues outside independent retail butcher shops around Australia.

Why not look at making the shop a little easier? Offer an online ordering service or some are offering a click or call and collect service. The less time shoppers spend in busy supermarkets the safer they are feeling and less likely to catch something they do not want.

Value Adding

Value Adding

Have you ever thought that value adding did not suit your business or you customers would not buy it?

Customers are looking for more than chops, steaks and sausages today. Many families are dual income, time poor and still struggle to put a good meal together every night. The easy option is those "Quick Service Restaurants" (QSR`s) like McDonalds, Kentucky and Domino`s etc; no cooking and in most cases delivered to your door. Not a healthy or fresh alternative but serves a purpose.

Look at how the retail supermarkets are taking on the independent butchers with their expanding range of value add fresh and cooked meats. It is popular, if you see the majors doing something it has been tested in trial stores and obviously they see an opportunity, however they cannot make it themselves, butchers have the advantage of pushing the "Freshly made" and "Made In store or Homemade" story when selling these products.

Value adding is still very popular in butcher shops, many customers are still looking for that easy meal solution. If you want to dip a toe in the water, you do not have to make anything too fancy when you start. Look at sausage rolls, simple and easy to make and a "cheap and cheerful" family favourite in many Aussie homes for snacks or dinner. You can make them a variety of sizes, short snack/kids size or longer ones. 

You can make them out of your popular sausage mixes, or stick to the plain version. Look at adding some bread crumbs, even a flavoured breadcrumb mix like the good old sage & onion to the mix to make the meat eat a little softer but don’t go overboard otherwise they end up quite dense and flavourless.

Alternatively, my favourites are Empanadas, you can buy empanada clams online or in some kitchen/home stores, they are cheap and can make you a lot of money. If you use one of the smaller clams, you can only put approx 30 - 40 grams of flavoured mince inside these and they are quick to cook, do the math/costings $$$. Make sure you tell your customers to egg wash them prior to cooking to make the pastry golden.

I have seen some brilliant value add displays and ideas on my travels around the states, some butchers are extremely talented artists at value adding, it gives your business a point of difference. If you are looking at cooking, ensure you check with your state/local Food Safety Authority.

  • Buy the bulk rolls of pastry from your dry goods suppliers to keep costs down.
  • When producing pastries make all pastries on a clean dry cutting board to avoid cross contamination and discolouration of the pastry.
  • Keep the blue plastic on the products for as long as possible, even when displaying.
  • Special packaging like sandwich or roll clams to pack the products in so they arrive home in the same way they left your shop, again check with your dry goods supplier they often have a range of products.
  • Designate a time each week; that is your value added production time.
  • Pastries freeze well, so if you have the time make some extras and freeze them.

If you want to try pastries there are some brilliant beef and lamb recipe ideas available for sausage rolls, empanadas, strudels and a range of other lines in the Value Added section of the Australian Butchers Guild website.