By now, everyone knows the score: cutting down on red meat is key to staying healthy and reducing our environmental impact. We also know that it’s very tasty. So when we do indulge, let’s do more to ensure our meat is top quality and of the highest welfare possible.
Enter Acre & Apron, the farm (‘acre’) and butcher (‘apron’) joining forces in the Lincolnshire countryside. Together they produce ethically reared, hand-butchered meat boxes delivered to your door. With a Bank Holiday and Father’s Day coming up, this we had to try…
What is it?
Butcher boxes are available in nine different sizes, starting with the ‘small’ Steak Box (£35 for six steaks spanning Rib Eye, Rump and the butcher’s selection – bargain) and ending with the Premium Roast Box, £95. We promptly ordered the latter (in the name of research, you understand).
OK, sell it to me…
James Dyson (yep, of bagless vacuum stardom) is the unlikely focal point of this operation – but all makes sense once you’ve done some digging. Not content with dominating the world of dust sucking (try saying that after two wines) he’s moved on to, quite literally, pastures new. Now his family’s farming business is committed to carbon neutrality, ensuring sustainability using cutting edge machinery and tech (ah – of course. Clever).
Combined with artisan outfit CJ Butchers, who’re promising to keep the craft of hand-butchery alive, you’ve got a winning combo – and an epic Sunday lunch.
Can they deliver to me?
The nationwide delivery service operates Tuesday to Friday (excluding certain special days), currently available to mainland UK (excluding Highlands, Offshore Islands & Northern Ireland). The minimum order is £34, and standard delivery is £5.95.
So, what’s in the box?
The Premium Roast Box is a beauty – enough meat to feed 4-6 adults across two different meals (with leftovers). Plus two huge fillet steaks for date night, and a little surprise. For £98, you get:
- Fillet Steak 8oz (227g x2)
- Boned & Rolled Rib of Beef (approx 2kg)
- Boneless Leg of Lamb (approx 1.6kg)
- Butcher’s Selection (approx 750g). For each box, the butcher hand selects an unusual cut of meat for customers to try out. We were sent two fabulous Ox Cheeks, which we braised in red wine (having already cracked open a bottle of the excellent Wine Utopia’s Chianti Riserva ‘La Scoperta’). The butcher’s choice comes with a handy recipe card, should you come unstuck. A nice touch.
All this arrives in impressive environmentally-friendly packaging, at a time to suit you.
Sounds great… What will I need?
- Veg, and lots of it! We love Farmaround’s organic veg bags, diving in to grab potatoes, carrots and red onions. Simply chop ‘em and roast ‘em with whole garlic cloves, basting with meat juices from the oven tray.
- These are large cuts of meat, so super sharp carving knives and meat thermometers are your friend.
- THE best yorkshire puds. Here’s Gordon Ramsay’s recipe.
- Lashings of red wine. Perfect Cellar have a great selection.
- Dessert. We’re currently obsessed with Hackney Gelato – particularly their new Chocolate & Roasted Hazelnut flavour. Highly addictive stuff. Approach with caution if you’re even remotely a Nutella fan. You have been warned.
What I wish I’d known beforehand…
That this meat’s so good, it doesn’t need complicated recipes or marinades. After what felt like hours of dithering over ideas (“smother the beef in mustard!”, “lamb needs a rosemary crust!”) and finally, a word from A&A’s head chef, I settled on the following: season each cut well, then bung it in the oven.
Okay, so the lamb we scored and studded with garlic. But the doorstep-thick fillet steaks, we enjoyed with nothing but Maldon sea salt. The rolled rib of beef? Simply stunning on its own, roasted on a mountain of juice-soaked vegetables. Reader, that’s all there is to it – and the results were excellent, every time. For a show-stopping centrepiece to mark a special occasion, you can’t go wrong with this butcher’s box.