How would you like to come home from work and find some fabulous organic produce on your doorstep, sent to you by a company that cares about the origin of its meat and one with a genuine passion for organic farming?
Well, we thought it sounded like a great idea! As a family, we like to have an organised meal plan each week, working to a strict budget around any fresh meat we buy. With this in mind, when the opportunity arose to try out one of the Riverford meat boxes, we were excited to see how our week of meals would compare to those created courtesy of our usual supermarket (usually Aldi but sometimes Sainsbury’s) meat.
First of all, let’s deal with the practical side of delivery. This is fresh produce, so it needs to be delivered on the designated day; it’s not left overnight in a warehouse or anything like that. However, the meat has been chilled before being delivered to your door. With this in mind, if you can find a safe place, Riverford will ensure that you don’t need to be in to sign for your delivery.
Our safe place was down the side of our house, and there were no qualms from the company about this, which is great if you’re both out at work all day and need to keep things realistic and practical. When you do get your hands on the meat, it’s fine to pop it all in the freezer if you want to. We popped some in our freezer and kept some in the fridge, all sorted out around our meal plan for the week.
To ensure we were able to sample a wide range of the produce on offer, and also to suit our life with a one-year-old, we opted for the Quick & Easy Meat Box (retailing at £35.95). As the boxes vary week by week, we can’t tell you what you’ll get if you order (except that it is all organic!), but our box included beef rump steak, lamb chops, chicken thighs, diced pork and beef mince.
We were very impressed by the appearance of the meat (it looked fresh and had a good colour to it) and the fact that the box came with a few recipes for those who might be overwhelmed by the produce!
With great excitement, our week of meat feasts began with a bang as we cooked a favourite of ours: paprika pork. Normally, we find we need to over-cater with supermarket-bought diced pork; the ‘shrink’ factor sometimes causes 600g of pork to look like a lot less. Here, the sauce we cooked the meat in was not at all diluted by any excess water escaping from the meat, and the pork had a pleasing ‘chew’ to it. You could certainly tell that this was paprika pork made with the real deal.
After the success of the pork, we went in slightly deeper in terms of relying on the quality of the meat to create a winning dish, going for the chicken thighs in a naked bake! Well, naked in so far as the thighs had no sauce to protect them, only some good old-fashioned Yorkshire rapeseed oil (with a touch of lemon juice) and some garlic granules and oregano rubbed into them.
Once cooked, the thighs had a real depth of flavour to them that we had almost forgotten chicken could produce after eating our fair share of bland, tasteless birds where the meat struggles to be anything but a filler. Here, the flavour of the chicken almost overpowered the rub we had used and the combination of the thighs with some sweet potato wedges was not only a dead easy bake but one that all the family (we fed five of us with this meal) were able to sit down and enjoy without one person being stuck in the kitchen all evening.
For the third night of our quick and easy meat box week, we decided to do sauteed potatoes with rare rump steak. Having only very recently enjoyed rump steak cooked to perfection at Gaucho in Leeds, we knew this would be a stern test of the meat quality. I feel that the best compliment I can pay the beef here is that Charlotte was in the early stages of tonsillitis, where it hurt her to swallow and chew, but she was still demanding seconds of the steak, such was the quality of the meat.
Cooked rare in a touch of olive oil and with a light coating of salt and pepper (no steak for the little lady!), the only minor complaint I can have is that the two cuts were very different thicknesses, meaning that we had to adjust the cooking times accordingly. Flavour-wise, this meat was delicious and this meal alone had me dreaming of another meat box from Riverford.
Night four and it was time for something a little bit different: Greek lamb chops. Charlotte cooked these to perfection after they’d been left to marinate all afternoon in olive oil, thyme, garlic, wholegrain mustard, oregano, rosemary, lemon, and black pepper. We wanted to let the quality of the lamb sing, rather than overpower it with any dominant flavours, and this recipe allowed for exactly that.
Charlotte cooked the lamb chops only for about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through, leaving the lamb pink and tender. She left the lamb to rest for about 10 minutes after cooking, covered in some foil, and the meat took on even more flavour as a result. This is lamb that you want to treat with respect, and the flavour and texture truly was on another level.
Our fifth and final night was a bittersweet one. Wonderful because the beef mince shone through with flavour and bitter because it meant the end of our week of fabulous meals based on the lovely Riverford box! For a full rundown of our marvellous mince dish, check out our previous recipe blogpost.
All I can say about this version of the mince is that the meat was the standout highlight. It was not overwhelmed by the flavour of the stock, or the green chillies, and the same would have been true had we opted for a spaghetti bolognese or even a pie. One thing we noticed about the mince cooking process was that the meat crumbled apart far more readily than clumpy shop-bought mince, a testament to how tender it was.
As a final ‘conclusion’ (if that could be termed the right word), you can probably tell that we were big fans of the box that Riverford sent us to review. With a great range of meat, a delivery process that removed our fears about meat being left to get spoiled during the day, and friendly customer service, the experience re-affirmed to us how good even simple cuts of meat can be if they originate from good farms and are treated well.
We will definitely be looking to get another box in the future, perhaps the soon to be released Everyday Meat Box (it does what it says on the tin) or The Butcher’s Meat Box, which promises to offer a range of different cuts to challenge home cooks who like to experiment.
If trying a box sounds like something you might want to do, or you just want to know a bit more about Riverford Organic Farmers, check them out here.
Categories: Cooking Experiences