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Have a butchers

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Have a butchers

Continuing a celebration of Yorkshire's finest produce.

Nestled in a wooded glade outside of the beautiful cathedral city of Ripon, here in North Yorkshire, is Waterford Farm and Wateredge, the workplace of R&J Yorkshire’s finest Farmers and Butchers. The business is managed by one Ryan Atkinson, the eldest son of Rob and Jo, and his wife Kate, both industrious and dedicated individuals, and their team of some thirty or so, who prepare meat that is supplied to restaurateurs, hoteliers and eateries throughout Yorkshire and further afield.

This knowledgeable and innovative team has made it their business to study farming and rearing methods meticulously, ensuring only the highest standards of animal husbandry are maintained throughout the process, and across the Yorkshire based farms within their cooperative. The parents, Rob and Jo, now concentrate more on the farming and livestock side, being found on the farm or at local Auction Marts on a regular basis. Ryan is the fifth generation in their family of farming and therefore the trade comes as second nature, yet this also gives a huge advantage for producing top quality meat.

Given that R&J are the suppliers of choice here at The Refectory Kitchen & Terrace, we thought it fitting to pay a visit and see for ourselves just how well cared for the herds are, and to learn about the process of salt-ageing beef in a Himalayan salt chamber.

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The first thing that strikes you on arrival is how pristine and picturesque the setting is, and how well maintained the grounds are. This picture-postcard homestead setting has a distinctly inviting feel to it, and yet behind the homely exterior, a highly professional operation churns busily away, producing quality meats to the restaurant trade. Once inside, it is impressive to see how well ordered everything is.  As it arrives, all meat goes through a rigorous system of checking and analysis before being carefully prepared and packaged for delivery. Ryan explained to us that the insistence on detail starts with his Dad in the field and on the farm, including the diet the livestock is reared on, the conditions they are kept in, and their general welfare.

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Out on the farm we met R&J’s pride and joy, a herd of Limousin and Charolais cattle that have been reared with care and attention on a quality high fibre diet including R&J’s own mixture of wheat, maize and other carefully blended cereals. Come Spring time, the herd are put out to pasture, and it’s a joy to see how excited they become at the vision of the open fields.

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Finally, we were taken to experience the Himalayan salt chamber, a walk-in chiller with walls made of Himalayan salt bricks that help to purify the air, whilst achieving the exact levels of humidity required to keep the beef and lamb in peak condition as it ages. This process gives the meat a distinctly tender and flavoursome finish, but it’s not just the remarkable salt walls that deliver such tenderness and flavour. Moreover, cattle have been specially selected, bred and reared in a way that delivers the exact desired ratio of fat to meat. R&J’s Signature range meats are hung for a minimum of thirty days, but to push the boundaries of culinary exploration, they have some prime cuts that have been ageing in the salt chamber for in excess of two months, so it is plain to see the Atkinsons and their team are not only experts, but perfectionists and experimentalists.

You can indulge in Waterford Farm salt aged rib eye here at The Refectory, served the traditional way, with béarnaise sauce. Click here to book now.