Butchery class review: Parson’s Nose, London

Pollyanna Coupland road tests the Ultimate Butchery Masterclass at Parson’s Nose, London, which covers boning, rolling, jointing and stuffing. If you’re looking to improve your skills when it comes to meat preparation, read on…

Butchery class review: Parson’s Nose, London

The details

The class runs for 2 hours in the shop; either behind the counter or, if it’s during working hours, in the butchers’ prep area out the back.

It’s priced at £175 per person (maximum group size 3 people) and you get to take home all the high-quality meat you have butchered. Considering this included a whole Sutton Hoo chicken (with marinade), whole leg of lamb and a 4 rib-rack of pork, we think this represents excellent value for money. Plus you get to take a lifetime of skills away with you too.

What to expect…

My budding-butcher friend and I arrived at the shop on a busy Monday morning and were taken through to the back room, among the working butchers, where we donned our chefs jackets and aprons. There was an offer of a chain-mail glove for those a little less confident in their knife skills, but we decided to brave it without. Our lovely teacher for the morning was the highly knowledgeable Matt Pinner who outlined the different skills we’d be learning during the session, before diving right in.

Parson's Nose

First up: boning out a whole chicken. With 10 years experience in kitchens myself I thought I’d done just about everything possible with a chicken, but this was a new one on me. Matt says these go down really well in the shop during barbecue season and I can see why; just as a a spatchcock cooks quicker than a whole chicken, a boneless spatchcock cooks even quicker than that. Once we learned how to do this we had our ones vac-packed up (so it lasts longer) with a marinade of our choice – garlic and herb for me and a fiery jerk seasoning for my friend. As soon as the sun comes out I’m going to barbecue it Leyli Homayoonfar–style with her fantastic recipe served with labneh, courgettes and dates.

Next up was boning out and butterflying a whole leg of lamb. We followed Matt’s instructions to stay close to the bone and follow the lines of the muscle joins and we were left with an impressive portion of lamb to take home, including the bone for stock too. I’m looking forward to stuffing it with the last of the year’s wild garlic using this recipe.

The final joint tackled was the rack of pork, where we were given the choice of how we’d like to prepare it: slice into generous chops or remove the ribs and roll the loin. We opted for the latter, mainly so we could learn how to tie a butcher’s knot. A few knot failures down the line (the test is to hold the joint a few inches above the surface and drop it, if they don’t pop open, you’re good) we had half a rack of ribs and a perfectly tied joint of pork each to add to our kitty. The ribs will definitely be getting the Vietnamese treatment and for the rolled loin I’m thinking of cooking it as a porchetta. That will involve un-rolling, stuffing with a Tuscan rub of garlic, fennel seeds, rosemary and lemons and then re-rolling and re-tying for more knot practice.

In conclusion

My friend and I both loved the course, learnt a lot and came away with plenty of inspiration for future cooking (as well as loads of meat for the freezer). It was a fantastic experience to be in the middle of working butchers, with surrounding colleagues chipping in. “I use a different type of knot from Matt, no two butchers will do everything in the same way” the tall, friendly Irish butcher, deftly jointing dozens of chickens across from us chimed in. I thought this was a comforting and encouraging note to end on. Butchery is less daunting than you think, just give it a go!

Find tickets for the class here.

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