Established by brothers-in-law, Jorge Thomas and Charlie Cowling, Swaledale Online Butchers work with a network of around 30 small, family-run farms and smallholdings dotted around the wildly beautiful Yorkshire Dales who exclusively rear the hardy, native livestock breeds of Britain.
Swaledale Online Butchers is a strictly whole-carcass, nose-to-tail butchers based in Yorkshire, experts in supplying native, livestock breeds of Britain to homes and businesses throughout the British Isles.
Their pursuit of this leaves no stone unturned; breed, age of animal, feed, length of time ageing, butchery techniques - these are constantly being considered and refined.
"People often comment that our meat tastes old-fashioned or like it used to when they were growing up, and we consider this huge compliment. A generation ago in Britain we farmed traditional livestock perfectly adapted to our climate and terrain. Traditional breeds are slower to mature and favour a grass and hay based diet. Take the Belted Galloway or Highland cow, for example - capable of grazing on the fells all winter with no problem and producing stunning, highly-marbled beef.
"Similarly, the Middle White pig, a breed originating from Yorkshire and highly-regarded for its flavoursome pork due in part to its generous fat content. These old, native animals suffered hugely with the introduction of breeds from the continent which are fast-growing, high-yielding and lean animals.
"The financial incentives are clear. Our cattle are typically 4-6 years old with commercial animals as little as 14 months, but when it comes to flavour, to how these differ in the kitchen, there really is no comparison."
Their family business, based in Skipton, has achieved some great things over the years.
"One of the most satisfying is taking a drive around The Dales where there’s been a return to traditional livestock that’s clear to see; Dexter cattle, Belted Galloways and Highlands, all dotted across the landscape. We’re incredibly proud to be at the heart of it and to bring these unique breeds to your kitchen."
Photograph by Swaledale Butchers
They have a talented team at Swaledale Butchers, with a butchery team that boasts a wealth of skill and experience. Working with an entire carcass is unusual in modern butchery and requires a full spectrum of abilities from each butcher, from whole-carcass sectioning, boning and trimming, seam butchery and portioning individual cuts or joints for our wholesale and retail customers. They prepare each cut with skill, expertise, and experience, paying strict attention to detail and quality.
"Being a butcher requires passion, dedication and determination, and we are always keen to pass on these traditional, time-honoured Butchery skills to younger members of the team. Many have learnt the necessary skills of their trade within our walls.
"Our dedicated office team have a unifying passion for food and understand how best to prepare and cook our many products. Comprising mainly ex-chefs, we develop all recipes in-house, from sausage seasonings and bacon cures to marinades and rubs. Much time is spent on site with our farmers across The Dales, touching base, discussing livestock and our various breeding projects, from heritage Middle White pigs to Swaledale mutton or the introduction of the Lowline breed, a diminutive, seldom seen beef breed similar in size to the Dexter which we have been breeding since 2016. The farmers themselves are, of course, vital members of the team, fantastic produce being essential before we dry-age, dry-cure, brine, smoke and fill our award-winning sausages on site."
Denver steak baguette
2 Denver steaks
2 small baguettes
2 white onions, finely sliced
100g butter, salted
Pinch of chilli flakes
Pinch of salt
Plenty of cracked black pepper
Pinch of seasonal greens (chives or wild garlic), finely chopped
Bag of salad
1. Take steaks out of the fridge 1-2 hours before cooking, cover very lightly with oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides of each steak.
2. Over a high heat or hot fire embers, place over a cast-iron pan until it is very hot.
3. Sear each steak accordingly, we cook it for 3-4 minutes until medium rare. Be sure to test it with touch.
4. Remove the steaks and allow them to rest.
5. Whilst the steaks are resting, add into the pan the onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Add in the butter, chilli flakes and more black pepper.
6. Take the pan off the heat and place both steaks back into the pan, covering them in the rich buttery-onion sauce.
7. Slice the steaks into slithers.
8. Cut the baguettes in half (place onto the grill over the fire embers if you're cooking over a fire to char a little) and spread in the butter, sprinkle in the finely chopped chives or wild garlic, add in a few salad leaves, and lastly, the slithers of steak and a generous topping of the golden buttery onions.