The Homestead is a small family farm on the North Downs just outside of Dover. Our herd of rare-breed, pedigree Shetland cattle live out on the Downs all year round, and only eat what grows here: fresh grass in the summer, and preserved grass, like hay and silage, in the Winter. Not just grass, of course: our cows graze meadow plants like Bird’s Foot Trefoil, Red Clover, and Vetch; sometimes they might fancy nettles, or choose leaves from trees in the woods; in the autumn they will pick themselves Blackberries.
It is our job to protect this environment for them, for us, and the birds, crickets, lizards and all the other creatures that live here.
Raising cattle in this natural way is a slow process - animals spend many years on the farm before going for beef – but it is worth it. The quality of slow-grown, grass-fed traditional beef is incomparable to meat from other methods of production. Try it for yourself! We will deliver to your door.
As first time farmers in 2012, we were in the fortunate (and challenging) position of being able to choose which breed of cattle we wanted to keep. We wanted a hardy breed that could be kept outside all year round, a breed that would thrive on the relatively poor grazing of the Kent Downs, and a breed that could be easily handled by the inexperienced farmers that we were. We also wanted to do our bit to preserve one of Britian’s endangered, rare breed cattle. Shetland cattle were perfect.
Our cows live in family groups with mothers, daughters and sons all sharing the same fields, preserving the complex social bonds of the herd. Calves are weaned naturally: young female calves (called heifers) will wean themselves at around nine months; male calves get weaned by their mothers whether they want to be or not!
We believe that keeping cows in natural groups makes them more content, and happy cows make better beef.
Cows are as individual as people, but in our experience, Shetlands are generally intelligent, calm, but absolutely not docile: our cows are independent and strong willed.
Sirloin comes from the centre of the animal, between the fore rib and the rump. It is in fact the same tender, lightly marbled muscle as the ribeye, just further back on the animal, which means the steaks are larger.
If you are browsing the internet, Sirloin can get confusing because different countries have different names for the same cut of meat.
What American’s call Sirloin we call Rump. What we call Sirloin, Americans call a New York Strip, or just Strip Steak, because the Fillet (what they call Tenderloin) has been stripped away. Confused yet? Well it is also called a top loin steak, and if it’s left on the bone, a Kansas City Strip, something you may see in the UK called a Wing Rib.
Whatever! It tastes great.
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Bigger and beefier than Fillet, Ribeye and Sirloin, Rump is a traditional British steak. It has a more defined texture than sirloin, and is slightly less tender, so best cooked medium or medium-rare, rather than rare. Even better, cook a good thick steak and share with a friend.
Rump steak is quite different to Fillet, Ribeye and Sirloin. It comes from further back on the animal (you can think of the pelvis dividing the rump from the sirloin in front) and is from a different muscle group.
A traditional rump steak is usually a slice through three individual muscles. However, those individual muscles can be separated into different cuts. At the top is the Rump Cap (the biceps femoris muscle). In Brazil this is called Picanha (pronounced, pee-KAHN-ya) and is the most highly prized cut of all, more expensive than Fillet.
Below the Rump Cap are, first, the Rump Heart (gluteus medius) or Centre Cut, which can be cut into Pavé steaks (from the French for “Cobblestone”, which is what these chunky steaks should look like); and, secondly, the smaller, but more tender, Rump Bistro steak.
There is also a fourth Rump steak, the Tri-Tip, or Rump Tail (tensor fasciae latae). It is called a Tri-Tip because it has… er… three tips. Although part of the Rump, it comes from lower on the animal.
Why divide a traditional Rump Steak up in this way? One reason is that for a steak to be as tender as it can be, it should be cut against the grain of the muscle. If you have one steak with three different muscles, they will be orientated in different ways, and you will end up cutting at least one of them with the grain, making it more chewy than it could be. Dividing the Rump into different steaks also means that the butcher can remove the silver tissue that connects the muscles.
If you are interested in any of these cuts, please let us know.
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