When it comes to good meat; I’ve always subscribed to the idea that being able to see, select and pick your own cuts, in-person was the only way to go.
However, after testing one of Battens Farm’s meat boxes, I’ve totally changed my mind.
I’m not sure where that frame of mind comes from; there’s no real reason to dismiss produce delivered through the post if you know where it comes from, and how it’s grown/made. I think it’s a throwback to pre-internet, when the perception was completely different and it was a bit of a stab in the dark to do so. Now because of easy access to information, you can make an informed choice about where to buy from – and get the best from smaller producers or farms because of it.
Battens Farm, based in Nailsea, North Somerset, is run by the Baker family – who have been working in the meat sector for over 100 years. The 86 acre farm is now being run by the fifth generation of Bakers.
The small abattoir and butchery facility is run by Toby, Russell and James Baker, while the farm (home to their Aberdeen Angus herd) is run by Danny and George Baker. Because of the ownership of both farm and abattoir, their meat is fully traceable, from pasture to plate. It’s this that makes them different to competitors as they’re in control of every step of the process.
All beef, pork or lamb is sourced directly from their own family farms (Battens Farm or Cherry Orchard Farm) or from a select list of trusted suppliers who only farm in Somerset. Plus, nothing’s ever frozen, it’s always delivered fresh in award winning woolcool insulation and cooling packs, ensuring your meat stays cooler for longer. What ever time of day you get home to your meat box (as long as it is the same day as delivery) it will still be cool, ready for you to refrigerate or freeze.
Choose from one of three ways to buy;
- Build yourself a one-off box
- Order a regular delivery every 2, 4 or 6 weeks. You can either start from scratch, or pick a size, and Battens Farm will make a suggestion for what going inside. You can then swap items in and out to make it your own. Plus, if you realise you need something different for a weekend meal, you can change it up to 2 days before your delivery is due
- Choose from a range of pre-selected set meat boxes. There are loads of options; from ‘tasters’ to steak lovers, slimmers and even muscle building
I love knowing as much as possible about the food I eat, so I loved the extra info I was sent with my box. As well as more information on the herd of pigs, it also gave some insight into the Aberdeen Angus cattle, which are well-suited to the Bakers’ grass-based system. The cattle are free to graze during the winter months, where grass makes up 90% of their diet. The remaining 10% is homegrown barley and oats, delivered daily (which provides the opportunity to check each animal throughout while they’re happy eating). The meat is stored in a maturation fridge, designed specifically to dry age. This is vital in ensuring the tenderness of the meat, so it’s hung for a minimum of 21 days before it’s sent out.
After my interview with Richard Turner on how to buy great meat, Battens Farm got in touch via Twitter and asked if I’d like to try theirs. I was super keen, and they sent me the most amazing selection to try. The steaks were hands down some of the best I’ve ever had, and curiously, they were rump – which I never order. Yet they were tender as hell and cut like butter.
The chicken, from Castle Mead Poultry, was also great. Castle Mead is run by young farmer Stuart Perkins on his family farm near to Bath. Stuart’s grandparents moved to the farm in 1940 and he is proud to be the third generation to keep the business moving forward. I made Madeleine Shaw’s smoky roast chicken; making a paste from coconut oil, cayenne pepper, paprika and lime, then roasting with some crushed garlic cloves for 1hr 20 mins. Adding some sweet potatoes for the last 45 minutes makes for a perfect Saturday evening meal.
I’ve still got the sausages and mince to get through (not to mention some phenomenal topside), but the hero of the box so far has to be the bacon. Cue bacon porn below.
You can see from the shots below the quality of this meat; it’s home cured from Battens Farm’s free range pork, and is utterly divine. This is the kind of bacon you write songs about. It’s available in packs of 6 and 12 slices, and the approximate weight for 6 slices is 350g. This is NOT messing about.
I urge you to try this out. Build your own box here, with 10% off your first delivery. It can be with you next day 🙂