As we start National Butcher’s Week, catering equipment supplier, Euro Catering, believes it has its finger on the pulse of the UK’s dining out and food production scene, by making available advanced dry-ageing equipment ideal for butchers, upmarket restaurants and artisan food producers wishing to make their meat a talking point.
Euro Catering has watched restaurants nationwide seek to differentiate themselves from the competition, but has also seen many fail to find the right route for their clientele, if they are not dining out on pizza, seafood or tagines, but more in the market for exquisite and home-cured prosciutto, pheasant or phenomenal steaks.
The same is true of its observations of those butchers struggling to stand out on the high street, or create meat sales with higher margins, and of food artisans and farm shops, wanting to create something truly sensational from their raw fork-to-field ingredients.
Cheese-making is similarly becoming hugely popular, but having a traditional cavern, or temperature-controlled environment in which to create that award-winner, or Great Taste champion, is rare.
And then, this year, we’ve seen the effects of not being able to import the vegetables and fruits we’ve come to rely upon in our domestic and commercial recipes – something that may be a sign of things to come in a post-Brexit world. Meat alone can create a wow factor, but first-class accompaniments and side dishes showcase it even more.
Euro Catering’s Klima meat ager – a hugely advanced piece of dry-ageing kit from Italy – is an investment that will pay for itself many times over and address all of these areas. Available as either an 800-litre capacity unit, or a 1500-litre cabinet, this is a four-in-one machine that can literally work wonders with food.
The Klima is a true multi-tasker – a meat ager, cheese ripener, dehydrator and proover rolled into one, not to mention being a unit able to defrost food far more satisfactorily and hygienically than with other methods. It can perfect steak, game, charcuterie, fish, pasta, vegetables, fruit, herbs and fermented bakery products, giving food unique flavours, textures and aromas. It can help a traditional butcher diversify into other lines, whether that is salami, game or home-cured hams, and charge more for exceptional steaks and joints.
As a meat ager, it creates the dry-aged beef that diners lust after, once they have experienced it for the first time. Hugely popular in the 1960s, dry-aged meat has since disappeared from many menus, only recently making a resurgence in some fine dining establishments and eateries.
The Klima works with the natural processes within the meat – fundamentally muscle that contains cells that the dry ageing process can break down into amino fatty acids and sugars during the ageing process, to guarantee more flavoursome and remarkable tasting steaks, or other cuts.
The Klima comes complete with long bars fitted with triangular-shaped teeth, meaning no meat hooks are required and the available space is maximised. Salami frames are also thoughtfully included and an external pH gauge allows different foods to be monitored simultaneously. It provides the restaurateur or food artisan with two choices of ageing – slow or fast, perfecting both processes through advanced and patented technology.
The first example of this is its patented air recirculation system. This prevents products from being affected by direct airflow, which means they do not have to be moved during the ageing process, within the precise micro-climate that the Klima creates.
Humidity is electronically controlled at between 10 and 99 per cent, which helps to reduce weight loss in the meat. The temperature in the cabinet can be moved between -2 and 40˚C, with all instructions to the machine being delivered by sophisticated touchscreen controls that are easily programmed. There are no LED lights to cause adverse effects inside the cabinet and the equipment can dry everything from cold cuts to Aberdeen Angus and from tarragon to tagliatelle.
The patented Sanity Bio system disables micro-organisms and facilitates oxygenation. This prevents mildew forming, which can affect the colour of food that has undergone an ageing process, leaving the end ‘user’ with age-dried produce, with no negatives attached.
Maturing cheese in this equipment, on the other hand, strengthens its structure and helps develop its taste and flavour. Water, air and temperature are all precisely controlled, to help create exceptional tasting cheese, without unpleasant smells.
Drying fruit, vegetables and herbs at under 30 per cent humidity enables the taste and aroma to be that of fresh food, which assists greatly when needing to serve some food out of season. When it comes to fermentation, the unit can perfectly produce leavened products, allowing bakers to cut out inconvenient work rotas. Defrosting, on the other hand, is accomplished without oxidisation and colour change.
Whilst a dry-ager that only caters for meat products can be a large investment for a smaller restaurant or food artisan to make, this multi-faceted equipment can be a huge ally for those wanting to make a name for themselves when it comes to dishes on their menu, or the taste of their delicatessen produce. It can be the differentiator that so many passionate food creators seek.
“The exceptional four-in-one functionality of this equipment saves on space and capital outlay, whilst providing its owner with a means with which to distinguish their wares,” says Euro Catering’s Tim Charlton. “It can create flavoursome and incredible food for the plate, but also assist in the manufacture of other ingredients, whether that is dried fruit and vegetables, herbs or pasta. It can even be used in complementary medicine, by those using natural herbs for medical purposes. Given this capability, it’s an exceptional purchase for those serious about high quality food, textures and taste.”
For those not requiring all of this functionality, and recognising the rising demand for dry-aged meats, Euro Catering has the DX 1000 Dry Ager, which comes supplied with its own Himalayan salt block, to enhance the flavour of the meats and cheeses aged within it. With a bottom-mounted compressor, this piece of equipment is ideal for establishments with low ceilings, where a compressor could overheat, if fitted to the top of the cabinet.
This dry ager refrigerator can take 2-3 beef saddles and a 40kg load per shelf, though the advice is to mature the beef on the saddle, whenever possible, so that less meat is exposed to the air and weight loss reduced. This dry ager also produces exceptionally tender and succulent meat.
Tim Charlton says: “We believe we will see more butchers, farm shops, charcuterie specialists and cheese makers turning to these dry-agers over the next few years, along with a higher proportion of restaurateurs, as we have a highly competitive eating-out market place and many chefs are doing exactly the same things as counterparts just a few hundred yards away. The trick is to get in now and set the trend, rather than trying to follow it, if you wish to maximise profits and create a buzz about your butchery or business.”
More details of the dry-agers available from Euro Catering can be found at www.euro-catering.co.uk or by calling 01455 559969.