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Great butchery tips from Matt Downing at The Magdalen Chapter

PUBLISHED: 13:24 15 October 2014 | UPDATED: 13:24 15 October 2014

Matt Downing is head chef at the Magdalen Chapter hotel

Matt Downing is head chef at the Magdalen Chapter hotel

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The Magdalen Chapter is proud to be sponsoring the 2014 Devon Life Food & Drink Awards Butcher of the Year category. Head Chef Matt Downing leads the hotel restaurant, a destination foodie hot spot, and will be sitting alongside the expert judging panel to determine the winning producer.

Matt Downing is head chef at the Magdalen Chapter hotelMatt Downing is head chef at the Magdalen Chapter hotel

The Magdalen Chapter is proud to be sponsoring the 2014 Devon Life Food & Drink Awards Butcher of the Year category. Head Chef Matt Downing leads the hotel restaurant, a destination foodie hot spot, and will be sitting alongside the expert judging panel to determine the winning producer.

Here, we asked Matt what he will be looking for in the winning butcher and what to look out for when choosing your meat:

Provenance of the Meat

To me, it is important where the meat I serve and eat has come from. I like to know the journey it has taken from field to fork. Traditionally with a farm and local butchers, they have a real connection to the produce and like to see it done justice when it reaches the kitchen.

Matt Downing is head chef at the Magdalen Chapter hotelMatt Downing is head chef at the Magdalen Chapter hotel

Quality of the Meat

For those looking for what to spot when heading into your local butcher, this can be determined by looking out for three signs: well butchered cuts, colour and texture. A skilled butcher will display a wide variety of cuts that are smooth with no ragged edges.

Fresh meat will have a rich, vibrant and eye-catching colour. When it comes to texture, look for the direction of the muscle fibers, also known as the grain of the meat. Good quality meat will have unbroken, tight and even fibers.

Passion & Pride

An expert in their field, a knowledgeable butcher will always know their products and be happy to help and advise you as you choose. If you’re a newcomer to the butcher’s block, don’t be afraid to ask for guidance, in particular when preparing a recipe or looking to try something new.

Innovative New Cuts

As a chef, I’m always on the look out for new cuts of meat or cuts that are from another country. One of the best parts of my job is introducing our diners to an innovative menu, which incorporates flavours from all over the world. More unusual cuts I’ve come across recently are Ox Tail, Bone Marrow and Skirt.

Recipes To Suit The Cut

Knowing the best way to cook each cut is essential to getting the best out of your meat. The forequarter meat on an animal is usually the most suitable for stewing or braising – everything from the waist up.

Cheaper cuts of say leg and shin, given longer cooking, have a more intense flavor than a grilled fillet steak. So the secret to great delicious dishes is not always to splurge and buy expensive pieces.

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