More than 50 students from Year 9 saw butchery skills as part of their food technology studies. James Edwards from Stilton Catering Butchers jointed ten chickens, showing the students different preparation methods and also spoke to them about the best meat to use for burgers.
He said: ‘I brought in a case of chickens and showed the students each individual cut that you can get off a chicken, both boneless and bone in. I started off by quartering a chicken, halving a chicken, then moved on to boning the breasts, French trim, skin on bone in and the standard bone in where you take a little bit of the wing off. I showed them where all the joints and bones are. There is very little waste at the end as the carcass is used to make stock. After the demonstration the students asked me questions, including about the cuts of poultry that you get at KFC.
‘The students are going to design their own burgers so I spoke to them quickly about the sort of mince and different textures and fat content and how that can affect how the burger cooks and the end result. A good burger needs to have a good proportion of fat in it as it will melt into it and keep the burger moist and soft. Then they came up with some good ideas for flavourings such as sage and onion and peppers.
‘Butchery is a brilliant career to go into as you can travel the world with it. Australia are crying out for butchers in lambing season, as is Germany for their chicken and Denmark for their pork. Butchery isn’t just about being in a high street shop, you can travel or be self-employed. I always wanted to go into a trade when I left school. I was offered an apprenticeship and I jumped at it straight away. Five years later here I am, fully trained and qualified and I know exactly what I am doing. I could open a shop tomorrow and be confident doing it. There are so many doors that are open to you. You have to have a willingness to work. I always asked questions and if I haven’t seen something before I always wanted to know what it is, so I learned the trade quite quickly.
‘Butchery is a career that is crying out for people because the industry is very old fashioned. It is a job that you can learn straight away. You can get stuck in and be a hand to your colleagues straight away, shadowing them, watching them and learning a trade. We supply meat across the whole country to schools, colleges, universities and care homes and also to the public via our website.’
Food technology teacher Mrs Wykes said: ‘This was a fantastic demonstration of butchery skills as James showed the students quick and efficient ways of jointing chickens and it gave them an insight into issues affecting the food industry, such as traceability of meat and good hygiene practices. It was a really valuable learning experience for them and we are grateful to James and Stilton Catering Butchers for coming along to share their expertise.’