RETRO: A traditional cut above

Royal Air Force No 2 School of Cookery at Innsworth - busy in the sausage department
Royal Air Force No 2 School of Cookery at Innsworth - busy in the sausage department
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What would summer be without sausages on the barbecue, thanks to Sheffield’s wonderful butchers.

As worldwide travel becomes easier, we have developed a taste for exotic treats yet there are some things that remain wonderfully reliable.

Butchers - Sheffield Area'January 25 1973'Brian Ellis at work in Castle Market

Butchers - Sheffield Area'January 25 1973'Brian Ellis at work in Castle Market

Bacon, pork, beef... they jumped back onto our family menus when rationing was lifted after World War II and haven’t really gone anywhere since. However the way we buy our meat has certainly changed.

Who remembers when bacon was sliced in front of you, not wrapped in a plastic packet, and cheese was cut with a wire from a block?

Now the majority of us just head for our weekly shop in a huge supermarket where everything is under a plastic cover and self service is the order of the day.

There are still some independent butchers who pride themselves on individual service and being experts in helping customers get exactly what they want... but the days when we all shopped at our local grocers are long gone.

Other things that have disappeared into the mists of time are certain cuts of meat.

What would you expect on your plate if you were served a Mock Duck or a Pope’s Eye?

To make a Mock Duck the butcher would take a shoulder of lamb, remove two of the bones, discard the humerus (used to make stock, of course) and turn the blade bone into a tail.

The result, a duck made out of lamb which were particularly popular at dinner parties held by well-off families.

The Pope’s Eye steak reached the height of its popularity in the 1960s and was cut from the middle of the chuck - sadly no more.

Then there was the leg of mutton cut for a Sunday roast. Forget your mint sauce and reach for horseradish instead as that was a joint of beef.

In the 1950s everyone used to have veal for Easter and lamb at Whitsuntide - just like turkey is now so popular at Christmas.

Another festive tradition among wealthy Yorkshire men was Christmas game pie. They were enormous and stuffed with veal, goose, foul and a selection of game.

How things change - even the food we eat.