As the days get longer and thoughts turn to spring, for many of us lamb will be on the menu. Despite its starring role over Easter, it is, however, one of the less well understood - and less ordered - meats.
The Waldorf Hilton, in London’s West End, is seeking to put that right, with a series of lamb-based masterclasses, combining a hands-on demonstration from a master butcher with a three-course meal and paired wines in the hotel restaurant.
The evening starts with a small but crucial piece of admin: signing a form to acknowledge that champagne and sharp knives are not always the best of friends. Formalities complete, participants are invited to don Hilton chef’s whites and gather around a whole organic lamb carcass.
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The evening is hosted by butcher Jon Toy, who exudes knowledge and enthusiasm for his chosen profession. Wielding an array of saws, cleavers and knives - and occasionally a protective chainmail glove - he demonstrates the techniques used to portion up the meat into the familiar joints, fillets, racks and cutlets.
At each stage, he invites one of the participants to try their own hand at butchery. Under his watchful eye and expert tutelage, the class proves itself a worthy collection of apprentices - and little by little, a surprisingly large stack of neatly trimmed meat piles up on the butcher’s block.
Some of it is destined for Karl Richardson, the hotel’s executive chef, who will demonstrate the versatility of lamb with a combination of grilled cutlets, neck fillet and bite-sized fritters of shoulder, slow-cooked and then deep-fried. The rest is divided up and shared out between the participants, along with tips and recipe suggestions.
The next butchery masterclasses at the Waldorf Hilton, London WC2, will take place on 21 March and 23 May. The price is £160, including pre-dinner champagne, a three-course meal with wine and a joint of lamb to take home
Top image by Darren Ridgway
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