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Meaty tips from a top butcher: choosing, ordering and storing meat


Know how to spot good meat? Which cheap cuts are the tastiest? Make the most of your meat with tips from top butcher Andy Formoy.

Marbled meat

Choosing meat

Marbled beef

Look for marbling (fat specks) in beef. This makes beef tender when you cook it. Extremely lean meat can be tough and dry.

Ask your butcher if they hang their beef and lamb

Hanging beef and lamb makes it tender and tasty.

Andy suggests 20 to 30 days is ideal for beef. Lamb should be hung as a whole carcass for about 10 to 12 days.

Andy says: 'Don't be put off by dark-looking beef. That's how it should be when it's hung.'

Cheap cuts and offal

Cheaper cuts such as brisket of beef, shoulder of lamb and hand of pork are generally the tastiest. They just need to be cooked for longer at a lower temperature.

Andy says: 'Stuffed lamb hearts are delicious and very reasonable.' Ask your butcher to trim them. Andy recommends filling one heart per person with your favourite stuffing and dropping them into a casserole for a couple of hours.

Ordering meat from your butcher

Bulk buying

Andy says: 'Make some space in your freezer and buy ahead of the season.'

Your butcher might give you a discount if you place a bulk order for stewing steak or mince in August, for example.

Rump steak at Christmas

'About 10 days before Christmas, ask your butcher for a bulk order of rump steak,' says Andy.

'Everyone wants topside, sirloin and fillet at Christmas. Only a few want the rump, despite it being a flavoursome steak.'

Christmas cooking

We spoke to Which? Local recommended butchers and wine merchants for their Christmas dinner tips:

Storing meat at home

Unwrap your meat, loosely cover it and store it on the bottom shelf of the fridge.

Approximate keeping times for meat:

  • Chicken and pork: 2 days
  • Beef and lamb: 4 days


Small cuts such as stewing steak, liver and mince should be used on the day you buy them or the following day.

During this storage time, remember to change the dish the meat is on every day. Meat can spoil if it's left standing in blood or liquid.

Always make sure your fridge is cold enough. A temperature of between 0°c and 2°c is best.


About our expert trader

Butcher Andrew Formoy from A Willsher & Son in Colchester

Andy Formoy manages Colchester butcher A Willsher and Son.

In 2012, A Willsher and Son won a regional Which? Local Business of the Year award.

Reviewers have praised the exceptional customer sevice they receive at A Willsher and Son, as well as the range of high quality meats at reasonable prices.

Read reviews for A Willsher and Son