Peckham isn't short of butchers. Rye Lane is lined with them and the chop-chop-chop of the cleavers and the ringing of metal going through bone fills the ears and makes me cringe. Most of these double up as grocers, big piles of yams and plantain partially blocking the doorway. Boiler chickens hang upside down above the counters, and the meat behind the glass is often luridly red at the ones I've visited. Most are halal and don't sell pork. They're always busy, but I'm a bit skeptical at the quality of the meat they sell; call me snobbish but I like to know the provenance of my meat.
I met Charlie a couple of years ago, when he was working as a butcher at The Ginger Pig; he made light work of a pig's head at Ben Greeno's supper club (now defunct; Ben's head chef at Momofuku's Sydney outpost, Seibo). I heard that Charlie was branching out to open Flock & Herd on Bellenden (stop it) Road so I knew it was going to be somewhere worth shopping at. His background at The Ginger Pig is a dead giveaway that the meat would be carefully sourced and well treated.
Last Saturday was a bit of a launch day for Flock & Herd and Burger Bear Tom was out the front of the shop squishing meat patties onto a hot grill to be sandwiched by shiny brioche buns. Peppery and juicy, the burger meat came from Flock & Herd and delicious they were too. A small queue snaked out of the butcher's shop, but it moved quickly and I managed to bag myself some tasty-looking pork chops. My eye was immediately drawn to the strip of creamy white fat that lined them and they cost around £5.70 for three. Had I been less blinded by a stonking hangover that left me feeble and unable to make decisions, I'd have picked up a lot more.
Cooked simply in a hot pan to be served on a bed of puy lentils, with a green sauce for garnish they were beautifully flavoured, lovely and porky - obviously a good piece of meat. The fat was plentiful and flavoursome and it crisped up well in the pan. I'm sure I'll be a regular at their shop.
Flock & Herd, 155 Bellenden Road, SE15 4DH
Tel: 0207 635 7733
Website with opening hours HERE
Pork Chops, Puy Lentils and Green Sauce
2 pork chops
120gr puy lentils
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 small glass of white wine
200ml vegetable stock
1 courgette, sliced diagonally
slow roasted cherry tomatoes, or sun-dried tomatoes in oil
For the green sauce:
A handful of mint
1 small clove of garlic
A handful of basil
1 tsp sherry vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1.5 tbsp water
A pinch of sugar
Sweat the onion, garlic, celery and carrot in a little oil until the vegetables have softened. Add the white wine, bring to the boil and reduce by half. Rinse the lentils, then add to the pan with the stock. Simmer for 25 - 30 minutes, adding more water if they start to catch. 10 minutes before you serve, add the courgette to cook. Leave on warm. Add the slow roasted tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes in oil.
Meanwhile, whizz together all the ingredients of the green sauce together until it's emulsified and creamy.
Heat a little oil in a pan and fry the pork chops on both sides for 7 - 10 minutes each, depending on the thickness. Leave to rest on a warm plate under foil for 10 minutes.
Ladle the lentils onto serving plates and top with a pork chop, with the juices and with a dollop of green sauce.