British meat products could start disappearing from supermarket shelves in just a matter of days, thechief executive of the British Meat Processors Association has warned.
The news follows a dramatic increase in gas prices, which rose by 70 per cent in August alone.
Even though the government has reassured Brits that higher gas prices will not mean an energy crisis for the UK, despite emergency meetings held with energy industry leaders, the worsening energy crisis will hit both consumers and supply chains, exacerbating the problem of food shortages already witnessed throughout the UK.
This has caused factories to produce fertiliser more slowly, in turn causing a knock-on reduction in the amount of CO2 being produced: something necessary for the meat industry (particularly pig and poultry) to perform ‘humane slaughter’.
CO2 required for ‘humane slaughter’
‘Stunning’ animals such as pigs prior to slaughter is a legal requirement in many countries. Most commonly, the animals are exposed to high concentrations of CO2 (>80 per cent by volume in air) intended to cause unconsciousness so animals can theoretically be slaughtered without fear, anxiety, pain, suffering, or distress.
Using CO2 instead of electrical stunning also makes it possible to stun animals in groups, with minimal restraint, less handling, and – ultimately – less stress before stunning.
Around 80 per cent of pigs and poultry in the UK are slaughtered using this process, according to Nick Allen, chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association.
“Those plants closed, and they account for about 60% of the CO2 produced in this country,” Allen told the BBC.
“They closed at very short notice with no warning; it really hit us cold.
“We’re hoping and praying the Government can negotiate with these plants to reopen. But even then, it’ll take about three days to restart.”
Five-15 days’ worth of meat supply left
Nick Allen believes there is between five-15 days’ worth of meat supply left, then “animals will have to stay on farms”, and these plants “will have to stop” slaughtering.
In addition to causing farmers huge animal welfare problems, with British pork and poultry remaining off the shelves, Nick Allen also says “we’re two weeks away from seeing some real impact on the shelves.”
In response, business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is due to hold crisis talks with senior members of the gas industry to discuss plans on moving forward in response to the deteriorating situation.
“I understand this will be a worrying time for businesses and consumers,” Tweeted Kwasi Kwarteng. “We are working hard to manage the impact of global gas price rises.
“Unfortunately, small energy suppliers are facing pressures due to sudden increases in global gas prices.”
Eating meat free
While we wait in anticipation of increased food shortages, including meat, we recommend adding the following vegetarian recipes to your repertoire instead of settling for low-welfare meat.
A vegan-friendly meat alternative prized for its texture and versatility, seitan is made using wheat flour washed until the starch granules have been removed.
- Deep frying pan with a lid
- Large mixing bowl
For the seitan
- 1 kg plain wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 715 ml water amount may vary
For the seasoning
- 1.5 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- ¼ tsp garlic granules
- ¼ tsp onion granules
- 400-600 ml vegetable stock amount will vary depending on the size of your pan
- 2 tbsp liquid smoke
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- Oil for frying
- In a large bowl combine the flour and baking powder and mix until the baking powder is evenly dispersed. While mixing add just enough water to make a firm dough. There should be no dry spots and it shouldn’t be sticky.
- Transfer the dough to a colander and place the colander containing the dough into a large bowl. Fill the bowl with cold water so that the dough is fully submerged and leave it to rest for one hour.
- After an hour, drain the dough and top back up with cold water, knead the dough under the water until the water becomes milky. (The colander makes this process easier).
- Continue kneading the dough in fresh batches of water until the water no longer becomes opaque and milky (about 5-8 times). The more the dough is washed, the harder it will become to ‘knead’, so just squeeze, and agitate it under water.
- After washing the dough, squeeze as much excess liquid out, it should be considerably smaller in size at this point. Leave the dough to rest for 15 minutes. This can be done in the colander to continue draining.
- In a clean mixing bowl, combine the dough with the dry seasonings and salt and pepper. The seasoning won’t incorporate the same way it would if you were handling a bread dough. The easiest way to add the seasoning is to stretch the dough slightly and roll in the seasoning.
- Split the dough into four pieces. Stretch each piece into a sausage shape and twist, then create a knot and tuck the ends underneath, like a pretzel.
- Fry the seitan over a low/medium in a splash of cooking oil for 3-4 minutes on each side until browned. In a jug combine the stock and liquid smoke, the amount of stock will vary depending on the size of your pan. Pour the stock mixture into the pan, it should reach halfway up the sides of the seitan, add more stock as necessary.
- Simmer covered on low for one hour, flipping the seitan at the halfway mark. The seitan will keep in the fridge for 5 days and can be reheated in frying pan on a low heat for a few minutes.
Using just a few store cupboard ingredients, French onion soup is an absolute classic – an ideal starter or main course.
- 100 g butter
- 1 kg onions thinly sliced (see notes)
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 200 ml white wine
- 100 ml dry sherry/port
- 1.5 litres beef stock
- Baguette cut into 1-2cm slices.
- 1 clove garlic
- 200 g gruyère or comté grated
- Cooking oil
- Freshly-ground black pepper
- Melt the butter and a splash of cooking oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan.
- Add the onions sauté over a low heat for approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until completely caramelised and jammy.
- Add the flour to the pan, increase the heat to medium-high and stir well. Cook until the smell of raw flour dissipates and the flour is incorporated with the onions.
- Slowly add the wine and sherry to deglaze the pan. Continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes until the liquid has reduced by around two-thirds.
- Pour in the beef stock and bring to a boil. Season generously with pepper. Simmer for 20 mins, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning and add salt if need be.
- While the soup is cooking, prepare your croutons. Place the baguette slices under a grill for 1 minute, or until lightly golden. Peel the garlic clove, then rub over the lightly toasted baguette slices. Top each slice with a generous handful of cheese and place under the grill for another 2 minutes, or until melted and lightly charred.
- To serve, portion the soup into bowls, then top with the cheese croutons.
- Typical recipes us just yellow, but a mixture can be used. For something different, try a combination yellow onions, white onions, Spanish onions, shallots, and a red onion.
- White wine can be substituted for sherry, port, Madeira, brandy, or even a mixture of each.
- Instead of using croutons, you can transfer the soup to bowls then top with cheese before finishing under the grill for a minute or two, until golden and melted.
- French onion soup is traditionally served in a deep bowl, but if you’re keen on having more croutons, serve the soup in a shallow bowl with greater surface area.
Chef Jon Atashroo’s grilled cauliflower dish is best finished on the barbecue, but given the often bleak UK weather conditions, a hot griddle pan will do. A vegetarian dish that’ll appeal to even the most stubborn of meat-eaters.
- 1 large Cauliflower
- 170 g Cashew nut butter
- 10 g Fresh turmeric
- 10 g Maple syrup
- 100 g Golden raisins
- 100 g Lilliput capers
- 100 g Baby spinach optional
- 1 Shallot
- Olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 140C. Trim all the green leaves from the cauliflower, allowing 1 small or ½ large cauliflower per person. Drizzle with olive oil, a generous dusting of fine salt and bake in the oven. Start with 20 minutes, checking the root with a knife to see when it’s tender. The florets should yield and just hold together. Bake for another 5-10 minutes if needed.
- Whilst the cauliflower is cooking, make the cashew butter. We make our own in the restaurant but it requires a very good blender and a lot of patience. Use a quality brand like Meridian cashew butter, add 10g maple syrup and 10g fresh, finely grated turmeric. Smash the turmeric in a pestle and mortar if available, or grate finely on a micro plane. You can use dried if fresh is not available but the fresh gives such an ethereal perfumed finish to the dish it is well worth seeking out. Mix very well.
- (N.B The recipe makes more than you need but it keeps well in the fridge & is delicious with pretty much anything.)
- Caper and raisin dressing gives a sweet, sour and salty finish that lifts the cauliflower and balances the richness of the butter. Take 100g golden raisins, cover with water in a pan and bring to the boil. When boiled, immediately turn off and drain the raisins, leave in the sieve to drain dry. Mix with 100g capers (adding a good dash of their vinegary brine). Finally add a finely chopped shallot and a drizzle of olive oil. Mix together.
- Preheat a griddle pan or – better – use a bbq. Break the cauliflower into natural chunky florets and char the cauliflower to get some colour and a bit of smoke until it’s hot inside.
- Meanwhile, in another pan, warm up some of the caper and raisin mix with a tablespoon of water. When hot, throw in the cauliflower florets and gently turn to coat in the mix. Drizzle with a little olive oil.
- To serve, dot some of the cashew butter on each serving plate. Place the cauliflower florets on next and then top with some of the caper and raisin that is left behind in the pan.
- We serve with some wilted spinach as a garnish but this is totally up to you. Fresh coriander leaves would also work well.
A classic Italian dish with global popularity, this aubergine parmigiana recipe comprises layers of aubergine, cheese, and tomato sauce. It can also be made vegetarian by substituting the Parmigiano Reggiano for a rennet-free alternative.
- Draining/cooling rack
- Large pan for frying
- large roasting tray/tin
- 2 large aubergines
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- Small bunch basil stalks chopped, leaves ripped (4 leaves reserved for garnish)
- 6 cloves garlic finely sliced
- 100 ml red wine
- 3 x 400g tins peeled tomatoes finely chopped
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 100 g parmesan grated
- 250 g buffalo mozzarella sliced (approx.)
- 150 g breadcrumbs I like to use blitzed olive oil crackers or crostini to add more flavour, but regular breadcrumbs are fine if need be
- Plain flour for dusting
- 2 large free-range eggs beaten
- Neutral oil for frying
- Olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- To begin, cut the top and tail off the aubergines and peel. Slice vertically into 3-5mm slices. Lay over a draining/cooling rack and season each slice with a generous pinch of salt. Leave for 1-2 hours to allow the excess moisture to drain. Half way through draining, turn the aubergine slices over and season the other sides to drain.
- While the aubergine is draining, prepare your sauce. Cover the base of a large sauce pan with olive oil and heat for 30 seconds until shimmering. Add the finely chopped onion to the pan and stir. Season with a pinch of salt, decrease the heat to low, cover the onions and cook for around 10 minutes, stirring often.
- Once the onions are soft and translucent, add the chilli flakes, basil stalks, and finely sliced garlic to the pan. Increase the heat and cook for one minute. Keep stirring to prevent the garlic from burning.
- Add the red wine to the pan and stir. Cook for another five minutes or so, until the wine has reduced by 2/3. Once the wine has reduced, add the tomatoes to the pan. Fill one of the empty tins with water and add that to the pan, too. Throw half the ripped basil leaves, oregano, and 1 teaspoon white sugar into the pan and slowly bring to the boil.
- When the sauce begins to boil, decrease the heat and cook slowly for around 30 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally to prevent it from catching. Once cooked, set aside.
- Once the aubergine has drained, pat dry and heat a large pan half filled with a neutral frying oil. Set up a breading station by lining up a bowl of flour seasoned with salt and cracked black pepper; two beaten eggs; and the breadcrumbs.
- Using a wet hand/dry hand method, dip the aubergine into the seasoned flour to coat, then move to the beaten egg, then finally dip into the breadcrumbs until completely coated. Transfer the breaded aubergine slices to a rack while completing the process with the remaining aubergine.
- Once the oil is hot enough for deep frying (test by dropping a breadcrumb in – once it sizzles furiously the oil is ready), place each breaded aubergine slice into the oil and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden. It doesn’t matter if the oil doesn’t cover the aubergine. Drain the cooked aubergine on a clean rack and cook the remaining pieces in batches.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.
- Once the aubergine is fried, line a large roasting tray/tin with a thin layer of the tomato sauce. Assemble the fried aubergine slices in an even layer, then top with a small dollop of tomato sauce (making sure the aubergine isn’t drowning in sauce), then mozzarella slices. Top with another layer of aubergine, more tomato and more mozzarella, until you run out of aubergine or run out of space. You may need to trim some slices to make them fit. Also, attempt to save some of the sauce for serving. Finally top the dish with a generous heap of grated parmesan.
- Place in the oven for approximately 35 minutes, or until the top is crispy. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for at least 10 minutes to allow the cheese and aubergine to firm up, ultimately preventing the aubergine parmigiana from becoming soupy.
- Serve over a thin layer of reheated tomato sauce, if any remains, and garnish with a basil leaf.
Vegan Shepherd’s Pie
A plant-based take on a British classic, this vegan shepherd’s pie recipe substitutes traditional lamb mince for dried Porcini mushrooms, Puy lentils, and grains.
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 6 x Dried Merchant Gourmet Porcini Mushrooms soaked in 1 cup/250ml boiling water
- 1 x Onion Large
- 2 x Carrots Peeled
- 5 cloves Garlic Peeled
- 2 sticks Celery
- 3 tbsp Soy sauce
- 4 tbsp Tomato puree
- 1 tbsp Fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tbsp Fresh rosemary Chopped
- 1 pack Merchant Gourmet Puy Lentils
- 1 pack Merchant Gourmet Glorious Grains
- 1 cup Vegan-friendly red wine (240ml)
- 1 cup Vegetable Stock (240ml)
- 1 pinch Sea salt & pepper
For the Shepherd's Pie topping
- 4 x Potatoes Large
- 4 tbsp Vegan butter
- 1/2 cup Non-dairy milk (120ml)
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 pinch Sea Salt and pepper
- Preheat your oven to 180C/356F.
- Place a large, non-stick saucepan over a medium heat and add a little oil. When the pan is hot, add the onion, carrots, garlic and celery. Sauté the mixture for 4-5 minutes, stirring often.
- Finely chop the re-hydrated mushrooms (reserve the water) then add them to the pan with the tomato puree, herbs, lentils and grains.
- Keep stirring the mixture for 2-3 more minutes before adding the mushroom liquor (soaking water), red wine, stock, salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, make your mash potato for the shepherd’s pie topping.
- Add your potatoes to a medium saucepan and cover with water. Place the pan over medium heat and cook the potatoes for around 10-12 minutes, or until they are soft enough to mash.
- When the potatoes are cooked, transfer them to a colander draining the water. Let the potatoes dry for 2-3 minutes, then pass through a potato ricer to mash them.
- Once you’ve riced all the potato, whip in the milk, vegan butter, olive oil, and seasoning. Set the potato aside until you’re ready to top your shepherd’s pie.
Complete the Pie
- When the filling mix is rich and the liquid has slightly thickened, transfer it to your baking dish and top with the creamy mash. (Use a piping bag for an old-fashioned look, or just spoon it on).
- Place your shepherd’s pie in the oven to bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the mash on top is crispy and golden.