*Please note this post was originally published in March 2008

Every third Saturday of the month is Ashby de la Zouch farmers market. I love to go along and check out all the lovely stalls, sometimes I treat myself to a freshly cooked burger whilst browsing. There’s a real mix of characters and I always ask questions of the stall holders as they have such a wealth of knowledge between them that they are willing to share. Most of them stand out as being really passionate about what they do. I buy from them and feel happy to know a little about the meat I’m buying.

There’s a man there who sells roosters. I always make a beeline for him as rooster is a fantastic alternative to chicken. Unfortunately in today’s society of egg farming and high output production there is often no place for the males. The chicks are sexed at a very early age and the males are often destroyed as they are no use to the egg farmer and to keep them alive would cost as they need feeding. Anyway that’s a debate I don’t want to get into here….

The roosters that I buy lead a good life. They sit around all day looking manly and keeping watch for danger, get up for a spot of dinner, maybe strut their stuff if they have the urge and then its bedtime! The meat of the rooster tastes like chicken but much stronger if that makes sense. The rooster doesn’t have to stress its body by using valuable energy and nutrients in the process of egg making each day which results in a wonderfully flavoursome meat. The stock from these birds is a thick gel that smells divine and is so deep and rich that it lifts any dish that it is used in. The rooster isn’t an expensive bird. I find it cheaper than an equal sized organic chicken in the supermarket.

I also bought some wonderful rare breed beef. I tend to buy a piece larger than I need so I can use the leftovers to make a meal for the next day. I treated us to some fillet steak too but we haven’t eaten that yet as I’m saving it for a nice weekend meal with a ton of onion rings all smothered in a mushroom sauce… I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

I bought a couple of nice pork joints, chops and tenderloins for the freezer and some good streaky belly and shoulder to make into sausages. I shall be doing a sausage making entry shortly if anyone is interested?

Another really good buy is the lamb pieces. I get a decent sized pack of gorgeous free ranging lamb pieces for a couple of pounds. I freeze them and use them for casseroles or curries. The flavour is so different to what you get in the supermarket and probably works out cheaper!

I came away with a real haul and hopefully that’s the families meat supply sorted until the next market. I also bought veg and ordered some oat groats as I like to mill them myself for porridge and muesli bars.

If you get the chance to visit a farmers market then I highly recommend it. Its such a relaxed atmosphere and I’ve noticed that lots of people go with their families and treat it as an afternoon out. No one seems to be in a rush and there’s always plenty of time to just browse and read the labels and information boards to find out more about where the products come from. There’s always children running about and quite a few people bring their dogs. I daren’t take my two boxer dogs as they are fed a raw meat diet and I have visions of them running around with sausages in their mouths being chased by angry stall holders in that Benny Hill style…. bless em!

So here I am with a well stocked freezer full of locally grown, thoughtfully raised meat. I feel good supporting the local community and feeding the family with ‘happy food’ Oh dear I’m sounding a bit Delia Smith now, well before she lost the plot and brought out her new book…. another entry for that one methinks!