I haven’t done a review on here in a long time, but thought I may as well do one for Pipers Farm – sorry, no photos of the finished meals, they didn’t last long enough…
I’ve looked for an online butcher for a long time. As a former chef, if I’m going to pay top whack for a chicken or pork joint, I want free-range meat and want to know where it’s been raised. I get my pork & lamb from a small holding not too far from me, and I have blogged about them before, but I hadn’t found any online butcher for poultry that I wanted to try until I found Pipers Farm in November.
They get their meat from a group of farms in the south-west that raise all their animals free-range without any added feed. This time, as my son wanted duck for Christmas dinner, I was originally looking at just getting a duck, but then added a whole chicken too. Then I saw the packs of chicken hearts and chicken livers and had to get some – I love both but have never seen packs of chicken hearts for sale in the UK before.
I decided to get some duck legs as well – we love crispy duck and I can get the pancakes from an asian food store so… I got 10. I started to look at the rest of Piper’s Meat’s website and saw venison too. I ordered some venison shank and some hearts but they were out of venison heart. I convinced my hubby and son to try beef heart a while ago, and they really liked it, so figured they’d try venison too. I was about to check out when I saw that they had beef bones – I make stock all the time but haven’t seen beef bones for sale to the public so got several kilos.
The order came on the day it was supposed to, in 2 boxes with ice packs and wool insulation. I unpacked it and everything looked really good. It’s all packed individually so I kept out 2 duck legs; it turned out that the cold packing is so good that they were mostly already frozen so we had them the following night for dinner. I packed everything in the freezer except some of the bones to make stock and those 2 duck legs.
I roasted them after rubbing them in 5 spice powder and they were delicious, a good size too. They had lots of flavour and not a huge amount of fat – some duck seems to be all fatty skin and not a lot of meat. I kept the fat for roasting potatoes.
The beef bones actually had a good amount of beef on them still, one looked like a mini beef shortrib! I made a ‘white’ beef stock (I didn’t roast the bones first) with about half of the bones and it made about 5L of stock after simmering with lots of veg – onion, carrot, leek, garlic, celery and bay leaf, peppercorns, parsley, thyme. The longer you simmer stock for the better and this simmered for almost 24 hours. I had taken the meat off the bones at around 5 hours and had our cat begging me for it while I was still stripping the bones – he had some while it was still quite hot. I use this meat for the cat as a treat but also for risottos (chicken) and soups, depending on the meat. I froze most of the stock but we had asian noodle soup first… a good stock makes a good soup.
We had the duck roasted for Christmas as my son wanted; I stuffed it with an apricot & prune bread stuffing which helped stretch the meat a little. Alongside were roasted potatoes, brussels sprouts and carrots, roasted parsnips, gravy made from the juices in the pan. The duck came out with crisp skin (I only pricked it with a fork and sprinkled salt on it) and with most of the fat rendered off. There was a great depth of flavour in the meat and gravy and a 2.5KG duck made 6 meat portions + the bones for stock for another meal or 2. You don’t need huge portions of meat when it’s this good – savour it and enjoy, don’t gobble it down, no matter how tempted you are!
Last night I roasted the whole chicken and it was packed with flavour and not bland at all – and you get the neck, heart, giblets and liver with both the while duck and chicken. I roast them well seasoned with salt & pepper wrapped in foil and eat them before the rest of the meal is done, they were gorgeous. (Hubby and son don’t like liver or the neck so I get them). Yes, I could roast them for the gravy but I’d rather eat them. There’s a higher meat:bone ratio on a chicken than a duck and I use the bones for stock – I’ll probably get 9-10 meals out of this chicken once I’ve made the stock.
I will definitely be ordering again from Piper’s Meats – we have loved each piece of meat we’ve tried. I also like that you can keep the packaging – the boxes, wool insulation & icepacks and then send them back once you have had 5 orders. We accidentally reused our boxes and I plan on using the wool insulation so won’t be sending the packaging from this order back, but probably will for other orders.
This isn’t supermarket meat – think of buying this meat as an alternative to eating out in a restaurant. You’d pay more for bog-standard pizza for 3 at a chain restaurant than the chicken and all the sides cost. All told, the roast chicken dinner was just over £20 and while this is a pricy meal for 3 eating at home, once it’s stretched over 2 meals and balanced out by the much cheaper meals I make regularly – pasta bolognese, pesto pasta, noodle soups, jacket potatoes etc. it’s actually not that expensive. I know not everyone can afford this, or think they can, but if you do a little thinking about what you eat and go for better quality meat less often it’s doable.
Pipers Farm currently have a 15% off sale on until Jan 11, so if you are thinking of ordering, go for it!