Get Outdoors and Eat Al Fresco

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The sun’s out and summer’s well and truly here! Whether it’s a barbecue, picnic or camping trip, chances are you start dining al fresco as soon as you get the chance. Nothing matches enjoying a good meal outdoors, with this summer’s Olympics all the more reason to get friends over and enjoy some dinner.

Everybody loves al fresco dining – the kids can play games with their friends, and grownups can get a bit of colour in their cheeks while they dine. Dining outdoors also provides the opportunity to enjoy food you wouldn’t normally eat! At Farmer’s Choice, we love outdoor dining as much as you do – that’s why we’re offering a range of packs – food perfect for outdoor dining, and much more to enjoy.

So, how else can you enjoy your delicious Farmer’s Choice products in the great outdoors?

Back Garden Barbecue: How else would you enjoy your Farmer’s Choice BBQ pack? A barbecue provides a casual, laid-back ambience that is quintessentially summer. All you need are your tongs and either a permanent or disposable barbecue grill to prepare tasty Farmer’s Choice chicken, beef,  lamb and whatever other meats or vegetables you wish. Make sure you’ve got enough burger buns, wraps and drinks for everybody and you’re in business!

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Summer Picnics: Pack a Farmer’s Choice smorgasbord pack into a picnic basket and head to the park for a lovely summer picnic. There’s nothing quite like a lazy Saturday enjoying cold meats, crackers, bread and cheese – just don’t forget the picnic blanket and your suncream in case you fall asleep in the sun!

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Al fresco Dinner: If you’re looking for a small, more intimate dinner affair on your patio table, prepare a light salad bowl using Farmer’s Choice’s fresh vegetables along with some tasty grilled fish. Al fresco dining is not about preparing fancy dishes, but making a light meal from fresh produce and presenting it with flair.

There are plenty of reasons to arrange an outdoor party for your friends and family this time of the year. Al fresco eating is less about the formality and more about enjoying the outdoors, the sun, fresh air and open space – so put on your summer wardrobe and start preparing to start dining al fresco with Farmer’s Choice online butchers!

Farmers Choice are seeing STARS

award_tasteFor over 20 years the most coveted blind tasted food awards has taken place, celebrating the very best in food and drink and this year is no exception. Judged by over 500 of the most demanding palates, belonging to food critics, chefs, cooks, restaurateurs and producers as well as a whole host of food writers and journalists, Great Taste is widely acknowledged as the most respected food accreditation scheme for artisan and speciality food producers.

This year we are very proud to announce that out of 10,000 entries, we have been awarded those 6 beautiful gold stars for our British South Downs Free Range meat.  We are so proud that 4 of our products have won awards. We already think our products are amazing and now they are being more widely recognised. These 6 gold stars now sit alongside our previous 6 from last year; 3 for our Rose Veal Club Roast, and 1 each for our Minced Steak, Slow Roasting Lamb Breast and Back Bacon Dry Cure.

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Our 3 golden star winner was our Belly Pork with Black Pepper and Sea Salt Coating. Out of 10,000 entries only 141 were awarded the 3 golden stars, we are over the moon with this result. Judges commented “Powerful peppery coating”, “A gorgeous crunchy crackling full of warming, fragrant pepper”, “the pork is sweet and succulent”, “The fat has great creamy flavour” and “Tender and succulent, full of flavour”.

Our other awarded products were Minced Pork, Mini Lamb Roast and our Back Bacon Oak Smoked.  These all received the one gold star award. The judges comments were “A good looking rasher of bacon” “the smoke comes through well and the cure has brought out the flavour of the pork”, “Juicy succulent meat”, “Good lamb flavour”, “A well butchered little roast” and “Moist and with good pork notes”.

Now it is a waiting game to see who will be awarded the Golden Fork, “the best of the best” as they say in Top Gun.  Those nail biting results will be announced in September – fingers crossed!

What are Great Taste judges looking for?

They’re looking for great texture and appearance. They judge the quality of ingredients and how well the maker has put the food or drink together. But above all, they are looking for truly great taste.

How do they work?

Each team of four judges blind-tastes around 25 products per session, discussing each product as a coordinating food writer transcribes their comments directly onto the Great Taste website which producers access after judging is completed. Over the years, numerous food businesses, start-ups and well established producers have been advised how to modify their foods and have subsequently gone on to achieve Great Taste stars. Food or drink that is deemed worthy of Great Taste stars is also tasted by a team of arbitrators, who taste, confer and agree on the final award given. If judges feel that a product needs some adjustment, and therefore not likely to receive an award, the food or drink gets a second chance on a referral table, where another team, blind-tastes and deliberates. For a Great Taste 3-star award, the vast majority in the room – which can be as many as 30-40 experts – must agree that the food or drink delivers that indescribable ‘wow’ factor.

Eat Local Stay Local

When it comes to things to do, places to visit and food to eat, you can’t beat Hampshire! Offering a wealth of attractions and events for all the family, from messing around on the water, wildlife walks deep in the heart of the New Forest, to a picnic full of Hampshire produce to enjoy on those perfect summer days.

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Hampshire offers miles of idyllic countryside to explore, stretching from the South Downs National Park in the east to the New Forest National Park in the west and the North Wessex Downs in the north of the county.

With its unique mixture of rolling hills, chalk streams, country parks and bustling market towns, Hampshire’s countryside offers the perfect rural escape for short breaks or day visits for all the family.

We’ve teamed up with New Forest Escapes a small team who rent five homes on or near the seaside in the New Forest National Park. They specialise in luxury, beautiful and eclectic properties, all of which have a touch of magic. Each has a properly well set up kitchen and enough kit to cook and serve smart meals.

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Would you like to arrive at your holiday destination, put down your bags and relax without having the hassle of going to the supermarket? How would you like your holiday food waiting for you when you arrive, already packed away? We are pleased to offer a unique local food and drink service supplying the best Hampshire has to offer, delivered and packed away at your holiday destination.

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From five very special cottages on offer, catering from 6 – 10 people, from Beaulieu to Lymington – whether you’re wanting ‘Swallows and Amazons’ beach adventures for the all the family or you’re coming to birdwatch, cycle the Forest or celebrate a milestone birthday, New Forest Escapes help busy families create slow holidays. All holiday places have been designed to be relaxing and interesting family bases from which to explore and enjoy the New Forest.

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Rachel, who runs the business, says, “Mainly I’m a match-maker. I match houses and people every day. Family get-togethers and 70th birthdays are our mainstay and we go out of our way to help busy people create slow holidays, full of cheap (and luxury) thrills. I signpost people to story-tellers, help organise Alice in Wonderland teas, or just tell people where the best sandcastle and marshmallow cooking beaches are near or at our houses. It’s great fun. We have very creative guests and I especially love helping people cook outside or find fab private picnic spots”.

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Rachel says, “Our top picnic spots are:

1: on the beach at Pitts Deep Cottage. It’s 2 hours from London and has a beach 10 metres from the front door. The beach has private access so there are rarely other people there. It faces the Isle of Wight and gets all the evening sun – amazing for foodie treats and picnics”.

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2: on the Gins Barn jetty (80 metres into the Beaulieu River). Great for low key picnics and it’s just the best place to read a book, nibble on cheese and biscuits, drink some good wine and boat-watch the passing traffic.

3: bonfire in the garden at Eat me Drink me Cottage with the kids. This is a great house for families with lots of kids than like to run wild. It sleeps 10, has a giant trampoline and best of all a bonfire area. Kids can forage for wood. Make their own fire. Cook their own sausages and scoff them down with hunks of fresh bread and tomato sauce. Then roast marshmallows for pudding before racing to the beach 1 km away down the lane and tracking the wild ponies that live there. Heaven.

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It’s lovely to get away, but sometimes you want the freedom of your own place, in beautiful surroundings, and with all the comforts of home. What could be better than having fabulous British free range food from Hampshire/South Downs/Isle of Wight to enjoy on your Hampshire holiday!

When booking a holiday with New Forest Escapes enter NFE30 at the checkout to receive a discount.

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Laverstoke Park Farm

Laverstoke Park Farm

In April, we spent a glorious afternoon being shown around the vast Laverstoke Park Farm owned by 70’s race icon Jody Scheckter. It couldn’t be farther from the F1 race tracks if it tried (although, during the month of August the farm turns over a few fields to CarFest, the brainchild of Chris Evans, in the name of Children in Need!).

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Jody started his organic/biodynamic farm in North Hampshire, in 1996, wanting to produce the best-tasting, healthiest food without compromise for himself and his family. However, he soon realised that as a smallholder this meant he and his family would be eating beef continuously for eight weeks whenever a cow was slaughtered. It was at this point he decided to make the same food available to the public.

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Out of pure curiosity, Jody went on a trip to see water buffalo. The more he learnt about them, from their higher-protein milk, and lower cholesterol meat, to their naturally curious and tactile nature, the more he knew that he wanted to have Asian water buffalo at the farm. They are called Water Buffalo as in the wild they inhabit swampy, wet areas.

Reared in large straw bedded yards, or grassy paddocks, the young buffalo are fed on a completely natural diet of hay, straw, a blend of GM free cereals or grass from clover rich pastures. Buffalo is full flavoured and tender. It can be prepared much the same way as beef without special handling. Buffalo meat is a tasty alternative to beef.

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All the parks wild boar, live their entire lives outside, producing leaner meat which has a richer taste than pork. Wild boar are subject to the Dangerous Animals Act and are kept in a purpose-built outdoor facility incorporating some woodland, keeping them in as natural an environment as possible. From 2008 Laverstoke Wild Boar has not only gained numerous Great Taste Awards but also a Good Pig Award from Compassion for World Farming.

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Today his farm holds 1,500 buffalo, 400 cattle (Traditional Hereford and Aberdeen Angus), Wild Boar (The original pig), Middle White rare pigs, 800 ancient breed of Hebridean sheep, chickens, turkeys, a vineyard, walled garden producing organic vegetables and herbs, soil laboratory, pet food and an Education Centre (which has already seen 10,000 children from nursery, primary, secondary, colleges and organisations such as Scouts. No longer a small holding, this farm utilises everything from the soil up.

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The farm also has a licensed seven acre site to make their own compost and compost teas (liquid compost), producing around 40,000 tons of compost annually. They even take in green council waste. This is then monitored in their state-of-the-art laboratory and once finished turned back onto the farm for nutrients. This further enriches the soil for them to produce a ‘mixed salad’ containing 31 different herbs, clovers and grasses, feed for their animals. The team believe “you are not what you eat but what your animals eat”. So this near perfect soil goes a long way to helping produce their own feeds as much as possible.

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Jody and his team are currently in the process of making sparkling wine (it cannot be called champagne for the obvious reasons).  At present this is not for public consumption although we were told it was very very nice!

The 2500 acres of Laverstoke Park Farm and the parkland at Laverstoke are certified as biodynamic by Demeter and is classed as organic by the Soil Association. The team have established the only licensed Soil Foodweb Laboratory in Europe to study the activity of different groups of beneficial micro-organisms in the soil.

Orange and Honey Pulled Gammon Recipe

orange and honey pulled gammon

Why should pulled pork get all the attention!

Serves 6

Ingredients

Method

Put your slow cooker on to high. Unwrap the gammon joint and place it in the bottom of the pot of your slow cooker. Fill with water until the gammon is just covered and drop in the bay leaves, the garlic bulb and the orange slices. Replace the lid and leave to cook for three hours.

Once the three hours are up, carefully lift out the gammon joint using two forks, onto a roasting tray lined with a sheet of foil. Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200ºC.

Carefully remove the string the joint is tied up with, and most of the fat, making sure to leave a thin layer of the fat still on the joint. Drizzle the honey over the top of the gammon joint, over the remaining fat, and slide it into the oven for 10-15 minutes. Keep an eye on it during this time, you don’t want the honey to caramelise too much and burn.

Once you can see that the honeyed gammon joint is golden on top and sizzling, take it out, transfer to a plate or board and then shred it with a couple of forks. Serve straight away.

Perfect served hot, as it is, straight out of the oven – but it’s also perfect cold in a salad or breakfast hash with vegetables.

Get your ingredients online with our Easy Recipe Shopper

This is a fantastic Recipe from @joromerofood (twitter).

How to cook a whole leg of lamb

Nothing beats the tenderness and flavour of lamb at Easter. But, are you worried that you are going to overcook it, I mean, it’s not the cheapest cut of meat.

Worry not, this is by far, the easiest cut of meat to cook. Look no further for a fuss free approach to a perfectly cooked leg of lamb.

How to Cook your Leg of Lamb

Whole Leg of Lamb

This is a really tender cut so no need to over season or marinate it.  Just season with herbs and garlic.

Remove the lamb from the fridge and allow to get to room temperature. This promotes faster, more even cooking.

Ingredients:
Whole Leg of Lamb
Olive Oil/Rapeseed Oil 3 tbsp
Salt and Ground Black Pepper
Garlic 6 Cloves
2 Steams Fresh Rosemary

Method:
Take the leg of lamb out of the refrigerator about an hour before cooking so it comes to room temperature.
Rub the lamb with olive oil/cold pressed rapeseed oil. Set the lamb in a rack inside a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and rub into the fat and meat.
Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
Turn on the grill and position a rack below so that the top of the meat is a few inches from the grill element. Grill the lamb for 5 minutes or until the top of the lamb leg looks seared and browned.
Flip the lamb over and put back under the grill for 5 minutes or until the other side is seared.
Take the lamb out of the grill. Position the oven rack to the middle of the oven. Crush the garlic and rosemary leaves and rub into the top of the lamb.
Cover the roasting tin loosely with foil to keep the garlic and rosemary from burning. Put the lamb in the oven and cook at 160ºC, 325°F, Gas Mark 3 for one hour.
Take the lamb’s temperature and remove the foil. (Refer to the cooking suggestions for general roasting times)
Continue cooking the lamb (uncovered) until it reaches your preferred internal temperature. Check the temperature every 20 minutes until done.
Let the lamb rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.

Roasted Leg of Lamb

How about serving your lamb with PINK’S Basil & Garlic Pesto

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Internal Temperatures for Bone-In Leg of Lamb

All of these cooking times take into account the fact that we grill the lamb first to sear it. They also assume a resting period of at least 15 minutes, during which the lamb actually continues cooking internally. 

REMEMBER! These times are only guidelines. Depending on many factors, your lamb leg may roast slower or faster. Check after one hour and then continue roasting, checking frequently, until the lamb reaches your desired internal temperature.

Roasting Temperature: 160ºC, 325°F, Gas Mark 3

Rare: 51ºC (about 15 minutes per pound)
Medium-Rare: 57ºC (about 20 minutes per pound)
Medium:  60ºC (about 25 minutes per pound)
Well-Done: 73ºC (about 30 minutes per pound)

What is a Leg of Lamb? It is one of the back haunches of the animal, and the most common cut includes the upper part of the leg only. (Think of the thigh, without the lower part of the leg). For this recipe we suggest bone in, for the flavour. The bones hold so much flavour (think of rich stocks – all made from cooking with the bones). If you are concerned about carving a joint with the bone in, we have boneless and rolled.

Get Ready for a Spring Fling!

PINK’S produce their pestos, chilli jellies and chutneys using traditional methods, on the Isle of Wight – pure ingredients are sourced locally, whenever possible and recipes are all made by hand in small batches, using open pans to ensure quality and freshness.

Next-Generation

Inspired by the legacy of her late great, great grandfather’s company, Fiona Pink has taken his working principles (to supply food that was pure and untainted using only the finest ingredients) and has produced an award-winning range of delicious jellies, pestos and chutneys that are not mass produced and are rapidly establishing themselves as store-cupboard essentials – perfect for weekday and special event cooking.

Great Taste gold award winners since 2011, these Pestos are something else.

As we move into Spring, it’s maybe time to move away from the heavy carb loaded meals and move into the lighter dishes.  Below are a few examples of how to use your locally produced jelly and pestos.

Green-Chilli-Jelly

 

Green Chilli Jelly, which goes great with strong blue cheese or as a marinade for chicken or fish.

 

 

Rocket-Lemon-Pesto

Rocket & Lemon Pesto, best with pasta or as a base in home made quiche or pizza bases.

(Reviewed – 14th February 2016 – Fabulous, will definitely make this a regular order – Mrs Burgess, Fareham)

 

Smoked-Tomato-Pesto

 

 

Smoked Tomato Pesto, mix with creme fraiche and coriander and spread on crusty brown bread.

 

Watercress-Wasabi-Pesto

 

Watercress & Wasabi Pesto, bake it with salmon and serve with pasta or salad.

 

 

Basil-Garlic-Pesto

 

 

Basil & Garlic Pesto, use as a base for bruschetta to accompany drinks with friends.

 

 

Smoked-Tomato-Chilli-Pesto

 

 

Smoked Tomato & Chilli Pesto, pour this over your pork loin and bake in the oven.