Swaledale butchers, established is 2009, are based in Skipton, North Yorkshire. They ‘support small scale farmers, promote heritage and native livestock breeds, and supply customers across the UK with sustainable, traceable meat that’s Always Fresh Never Frozen®.’. Their ethos is to use every inch of the animal, promoting whole-carcass, nose to tail butchery. Swaledale work with farmers from across Yorkshire to ensure high welfare, native breed meat and only work with small local abattoirs to ensure full traceability. Their meat is free range, grass fed and reared on the Yorkshire Dales.
When Swaledale contacted me to offer me a voucher to sample some of their meat, I jumped at the chance. I would class myself as flexitarian but I am still a lover of meat. The offer of a £50 voucher to give some honest feedback on their product was obviously tempting.
Ordering and Delivery
The order process was really simple. I headed to their website, where all the options were organised in a simple menu. There is an obvious focus on steak, with categories split into prime and artisan steaks. From there we then have BBQ options, various animals, offal, mutton and meat boxes on offer.
I wanted to try a little of a lot of products so I cast my net wide. I ordered minute steak, salt beef, dry cured smoked streaky bacon, pork belly, flat iron steak, sausage meat and merguez sausages. I ended up overspending by about £15 as I was eager to try as much as possible.
I placed the order online, choosing the desired weight, paid and popped my delivery address in and then waited for my chosen delivery date to arrive. due to commitments I put the date a couple of weeks into the future. The day before, I got an email from DPD confirming my delivery, and that morning I received another with a delivery window.
The box arrived. It was well packed in a double walled cardboard box, with lots of ice bags keeping the meat cold to the touch. The technology used is Sealed Air® Brand TempGuard™ ensuring the safe and secure distribution of fresh foods. Everything was vac packed, labeled with batch codes, ingredients (for the sausage meat), health and ID marks, weight and a QR code that links directly to the website (great touch!).
Because everything is ‘Always fresh, never frozen’ it meant I could freeze anything I wouldn’t eat before the use by date without worrying about cooking it first.
The meat looked incredibly fresh, very well sealed and bloody delicious. I ordered things I had never cooked before and one of the main reasons I did this was because each of the product pages gives instruction on how to cook the meat, along with serving suggestions. For example, the Salt Beef, taught me how to poach in water, and then how to use the leftovers. I felt this was a nice touch and stopped me from googling options and then getting confused.
I have never cooked salt beef before, however it is something I love and I have always wanted to give it a go. This was a prime opportunity to do so. I hadn’t technically paid for the product so if I messed it up, I wouldn’t be losing money. However, I nailed it! I followed the instructions to the letter. I am not sure how wrong I could have gone to be honest, it is just boiling in water. However, I did it for the appropriate amount of time, it was juicy, full of flavour and paired so well with some Portuguese mustard and cornichons in a bagel. The 1kg did two portions with roast beef, and then at least bagels for lunch. In fact there was so much that I chose to freeze some leftovers tightly wrapped in parchment and then cling film. When the time came to defrost and eat, the quality was still exceptional.
Merguez sausages are North African thin lamb sausages. I first had them while in France on holiday with my best friend and loved them. With flavours of paprika, cumin and chilli, these pack a nice punch and a really well flavoured. I barbecued these at my birthday BBQ a couple of weeks ago and they went down a treat. I purchased one pack of 6 sausages (480g) and one sausage was enough for one person. They cook really quickly and were well received by my friends, a definite winner on the BBQ.
Tuscan-style Pork, Fennel & Red Wine Sausage Meat
Last night I made burgers with the pork, fennel and red wine sausage meat. I mixed 2tbsp of panko breadcrumbs and salt and pepper into the meat and then split into 3 burgers. I had ordered 500g of the sausage meat intending to make sausage rolls but then completely forgot to buy pastry so had to think of something else. I will be honest here, the flavour is intense. I should have made 4 burgers with the 500g, as 170g burgers were a little too intense for me (both in taste and sheer meat content!). The flavour was insane and if you are a fan of fennel (like I am) you will love them. However, I have realised there is such thing as ‘too much meat’. Next time I will make smaller burgers. These would also be delicious in a simple meatball ragu served with spaghetti.
Flat Iron Steak
Oh my word. I knew I liked flat iron having eaten this steak at various steakhouses over the years. However, this was another level. I cooked 2 minutes on each side, with a further 2 minutes on each side (turning every minute). This came out beautifully medium rare. I usually buy fillet steak whenever I visit the butchers but I honestly don’t think I will bother anymore. The flat Iron has much more flavour than fillet, is about 1/3rd of the price and was just a much more enjoyable experience. I paired it (as I do every steak) with SA Sauces Peppercorn Sauce. In my opinion this is the best peppercorn sauce you will ever taste!
Their website states ‘All Swaledale beef is heritage breed and raised on independent farms and smallholdings dotted around the wildly beautiful Yorkshire Dales. Slow grown and free to roam on the swath of green hills and valleys; the result is exceptional tasting beef with an umami taste – rich, dense and flavourful.‘
The remaining items
I still have the belly pork (a beautifully even cut that I will probably use to make crispy belly pork ramen), minute steak (that I am hoping to try a crispy chilli beef recipe with) and streaky bacon (probably as part of a full English) that I need to use. However if these are even half of the quality that the rest of the products were, I will be extremely happy.
Value for Money?
I usually purchase my meat from either my local butchers or the supermarket. Obviously the supermarkets are a lot cheaper than using a butchers, however the quality difference is huge. I always buy my chuck steak from the butchers for stews, for example as the quality is so much better. Same goes for sausage meat.
I did wonder if using an online butchers rather than the one down the road would upset the quality of butchery I was used to. However the products from Swaledale were incredible. The price was comparable to my local butchers (and they do currently have offers on certain products too) and the convenience of being able to choose a delivery day that suited me was great. It also meant that I knew what was going to arrive, rather than heading to my butchers to find out they had run out of something I wanted. (This has happened before). There is also free delivery over £50.
I know I was sent the majority of the products for review (other than the top up I decided to spend myself) but I can hand on heart say I will definitely be ordering from Swaledale again. Specifically the flat iron which I am still thinking about 2 weeks later. The quality was fantastic, the price fair, and the added bonus of cooking instructions and suggestions for leftovers was real added value for me. I won’t hesitate to order from Swaledale again.