Butchers are highly regarded in the Park and most villages have at least one. A good butcher is crucial in improving the taste of meat, using trusted farms and suppliers and knowing how to treat the meat. They should have the facility to hang beef in a meat larder (top quality Scottish beef is mostly dry-aged and well-hung), for example, and tell you which cuts are best for what you want to cook, then cut with skill and knowledge. Here, they’ll know a local gamekeeper to supply seasonal pheasants, grouse, rabbit or deer, too.
Jonathan Honeyman is the Aberfoyle Butcher. Well known in the area, he owns the business with his dad Billy. Jonathan says, ‘I used to hang around my dad’s butcher shop from aged about 10, then progressed to Saturday boy. I learnt a lot.’ He also studied butchery in Paris. ‘The French do things very differently; the way they cut is distinctive,’ he explains. ‘Paris was an eye-opener for me. There’s a more scientific approach. A side of a cow has 300 different muscles, and in each animal there are different types of fat – without fat you’d struggle to taste the difference between lamb and beef. Fat means flavour. Understanding exactly how each part works and is used is crucial to knowing how it will cook and eat.’
Jonathan continues, ‘We tend to look at meat as a commodity, and I’d like to reinstate its status as a high-quality product. I think we should reconnect the whole system so one person has more control over each animal’s life.’ He’s been doing that with meat he supplies to Scotland’s top restaurants, such as Andrew Fairlie’s 2-Michelin-starred place at Gleneagles. He has a relationship with local farmers to monitor certain animals’ lives, then takes over after slaughter. And with his passionate drive, he continues to produce exceptional meat.