Well Hung & Tender beef is grass-fed, Aberdeen Angus, reared under high welfare conditions and hung, on the bone, to mature for at least four weeks.
Why Well Hung?
Winning a Nuffield Scholarship led me (Donald MacPherson) to research how the best meat in America and Australia is produced. I discovered that hanging is one of the key factors. The top producers hang the whole carcass on the bone which gives it an extra edge on flavour. The animals chosen for longer hanging times must also have enough fat to prevent the beef drying out.
Most British beef is hung for only five to ten days. In the US, it's nineteen days. Ours is hung for at least four weeks to create our unique premium taste. The longer you hang beef, the longer the enzymes have to break down the muscle fibres, making the meat increasingly tender. A 15-17% weight loss also occurs over the four to five week hanging period, and because this weight loss is moisture, it has the effect of concentrating the flavour.
We hang at a temperature of zero degrees. It is possible to age beef in a vacuum pack, ie. boning-out the carcass, vacuum packing the large primals and leaving them to age. However, it does not produce as much flavour, nor the all-important moisture loss that concentrates the flavours as when you hang meat on the bone. With modern methods the forequarter is removed after two to three days and minced, but we hang this as well for the full four weeks, so the flavour goes right throughout the whole carcass.
My studies also noted that overseas cattle were grain, not grass, fed. Working with the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, it was discovered that grass fed beef has the same beneficial health properties as oily fish, as it's packed with Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids.
Our unique formula
So that's our secret! Using grass-fed Aberdeen Angus with sufficient fat on them, and hanging the whole carcase on the bone for between four and five weeks, we would have the best tasting, most tender and healthy beef to be found anywhere in the world. While others followed parts of this formula, I found no-one who combined it all, so I decided that Well Hung & Tender would be the first!
Best beef in Britain!
My Nuffield report stirred up much debate in the industry, with others beginning to increase hanging times. Still more producers took note when we won the Farmers Weekly 'British Battle of Beef Challenge'.
A number of independent producer/retailers from all over the British Isles were invited to submit steaks to a panel of distinguished judges. These included Robert Forster, then Chief Executive of the National Beef Association, Alexia Robinson from Food From Britain and Tom Parker-Bowles, Food Critic at the Mail on Sunday.
The result? Well Hung & Tender were awarded first prize, beating Sainsbury's and Jamie Oliver, who submitted their 21 day old mature beef range.
The 'journey', which had spanned many generations and three continents, was finally over. Our theories have paid off, and Well Hung & Tender beef is available to buy online, so you can judge it for yourself.