Soffa 26: Meat Of The Matter & Traditional Moussaka Recipe

WHEN SEARCHING FOR THE MOST PASSION-INSPIRING FOOD, WE STARTED WITH CHOCOLATE, MOVED ON TO WINE, AND FINALLY SETTLED ON MEAT. IT’S NO SURPRISE REALLY – FEW FOODS INSPIRE SUCH FERVOUR AS THE PROTEIN-RICH RED MASS. THERE ARE MANY CULTURAL, RELIGIOUS AND ETHICAL VIEWS ON MEAT, AND EVEN OUR SOFFA TEAM HAS NO CLEAR STANCE ON WHETHER ‘TO EAT OR NOT TO EAT’. BUT TWO THINGS ARE FOR SURE. MEAT HAS PLAYED A KEY ROLE IN THE HUMAN DIET SINCE TIME IMMEMORIAL, AND THE AVERAGE CZECH CONSUMES AS MUCH AS 80 KILOGRAMS OF IT EVERY YEAR. JOIN US FOR AN ENLIGHTEMENT ON MEAT, AND WELCOME SPRING WITH A MEAL OF ETHICALLY RAISED LAMB. IF YOU ARE A VEGETARIAN, CLOSE YOUR EYES FOR THE NEXT FEW PAGES.

 The interior of the butcher’s shop was designed by Paul and Michaela. After an initial attempt to involve designers, they went with their personal style and passion for collectibles. Their favourite design element is the lit sign Řezník, Uzenář [Butcher, Smoked Meat Maker] from the period between the two world wars, a time Paul considers as the golden days of gastronomy.    

The interior of the butcher’s shop was designed by Paul and Michaela. After an initial attempt to involve designers, they went with their personal style and passion for collectibles. Their favourite design element is the lit sign Řezník, Uzenář [Butcher, Smoked Meat Maker] from the period between the two world wars, a time Paul considers as the golden days of gastronomy.    

 Lamb is inextricably linked to Easter. It arrives at The Real Meat Society whole and only there does it get cut and portioned. This requires a knife, a cleaver and a meat saw. First the butcher removes the shoulder, then the shanks, then he cuts the ribs with a saw, separates the neck, and divides the breast. The meat is portioned further and deboned as needed.  

Lamb is inextricably linked to Easter. It arrives at The Real Meat Society whole and only there does it get cut and portioned. This requires a knife, a cleaver and a meat saw. First the butcher removes the shoulder, then the shanks, then he cuts the ribs with a saw, separates the neck, and divides the breast. The meat is portioned further and deboned as needed.  

There’s meat and then there’s meat. Just ask Paul Day, an Englishman originally from Staffordshire, who nine years ago became a modern butchery pioneer and started the Czech meat revolution. A butcher from the age of thirteen to nineteen, then a cook and a chef, Paul travelled the world for his work: London, New York, Madrid, Tokyo, Istanbul. In 2009 he settled with his wife Michaela in Prague, where a year later they opened a butcher’s shop on Náplavní ulice [street]. Since then Paul and Michaela have developed a network of very capable and reliable animal farmers who share their philosophy. All meat sold at The Real Meat Society comes from carefully selected breeds, from animals that had lived a good life, grew naturally and slowly, and nibbled on green pastures, without stress and antibiotics. The animals are slaughtered in small abattoirs in a respectful way. Very importantly, the butcher’s shop promotes the ‘nose to tail’ principle, where no part of the animal is left to waste. All meat is hung dry in the butchery: beef for five weeks, mutton for three, pork and lamb for at least a week. ‘You can really tell the difference. The meat is easier to work with, it has a nicer texture, and it’s more delicate and fragrant. If you want the best, you simply have to wait,’ affirms Paul Day.  

The Real Meat Society sells premium meat, which the butcher debones and prepares to your specifications. They also sell free-range eggs, stock, lard, home-made smoked meats and dairy products. If they don’t have something, they will order it and add a delicious recipe for you to try. Each day they prepare in-house specialties like burgers, meat loaf, hot dogs, roast beef and sandwiches, with which Paul and his team like to experiment. Paul is also the owner and chef at the Asian restaurant Sansho, located in the centre of Prague, and the restaurant Maso a kobliha, just a few metres from Sansho. Both restaurants offer a relaxed atmosphere and serve interesting traditional fare as well as playful and creative food. Together, the butcher’s shop and the two restaurants form a complete food triangle. As Paul says, ‘all of the creativity in the kitchen starts in the butcher’s fridge.’ And that’s exactly where his team of butchers intends to focus their efforts. 

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For our feature recipe, Paul helped us choose traditional Greek moussaka with seasonal lamb, meat that is inextricably linked to spring. The Real Meat Society sells mutton and lamb from Suffolk and Romanov breeds raised in Šumava and eastern Czechia, and you can savour Paul’s version of the recipe at Maso a kobliha. Paul likes to prepare it traditionally, but he adds a Czech cucumber salad on the side, as it balances the overall flavour beautifully. 


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TRADITIONAL MOUSSAKA FROM MASO A KOBLIHA

 

Difficulty: medium 

 

Time: 90 minutes (not including cooking and baking time) 

 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 kg ground organic lamb  
  • 4–5 potatoes  
  • 2–3 eggplants 
  • 1/2 kg onion 
  • 500 ml home-made tomato puree  
  • 500 ml vegetable stock 
  • 400 ml béchamel  
  • 200 g grated cheddar  
  • extra virgin olive oil  
  • cinnamon 
  • dried oregano 
  • thyme 
  • garlic 
  • salt and pepper  

 

Steps: 

Slice the potatoes into thick (1.5 cm) slices and roast them in olive oil. Put to the side. Sauté onion in olive oil, add oregano and cinnamon and season with salt and black pepper. Add the tomato puree and cook for 30 minutes. In a separate pan roast minced lamb until dark brown, then season and deglaze with hot vegetable stock. Cook for 10 minutes, then add the lamb to the tomato sauce and cook on low heat until smooth and tender (approx. 1 hour). While the lamb is cooking, cut the eggplant into thick (2 cm) slices, arrange them in a baking dish with smashed garlic and sprinkled thyme, and roast with olive oil. Turn the slices halfway through the roasting process so they are nice and brown on both sides. Then layer the potatoes, eggplant and meat with sauce in a baking dish the same way you would prepare lasagne. Cover with béchamel and sprinkle grated cheddar on top. Bake at 180 degrees for about 40 minutes. Makes 4 portions.  

We recommend that you prepare the moussaka the day before and then reheat it in the oven.  


You can read the whole article in the digital and printed version of Soffa 26:


text: Patrik Florián | photo: Lina Németh

Patrik Florián