One of the best free-range butchers in Surrey.
Go there for: Award-winning beef, sausages with history, perfect cured bacon and expertly prepared cuts of meat.
Avoid: Supermarket meat: support local traders like this one!
Is it worth the calories?: Ask Dr Atkins!
Tips: The pork and lamb noisettes are works of art, so prepare to be impressed.
This is a serious butcher’s shop. Not only does it have a loyal following in the community, it also supplies 35 Surrey restaurants. Innovative and competitive, last March they won a staggering 28 awards for their product development at a road show for butchers in the South of England. Not content with preparing traditional cuts of meat for their customers, they also make a fantastic selection of rolled, stuffed, wrapped and seasoned delights to cook at home. And don’t get me started on the fabulous sausages displayed . . .
Have a chat with the staff at Rawlings and you’ll get a quick education in butchery. Cured, corned, boned, sawn, filleted or rolled: nothing is too much trouble. They cure their own bacon: when I cooked a sample not a drop of water emerged, just the gentle sizzle of proper bacon in the pan. Crushed thyme leaves, black treacle, brown sugar and molasses can be found in their ‘secret bacon’ cure and those rashers made a cracking sandwich. Iain has been in the trade since he left school and Gary (a chef) joined the team more recently: his cooking authority has been essential to new product development and he offers expert culinary advice to customers.
The shop displays a huge range of products, including traditional cuts of meat for roasting, stewing and braising. Large free-range chickens (approx £12) make a substantial family meal, with plenty of leftovers for risotto or a creamy pie. We roasted ours: the meat was full of texture and flavour that I remember from childhood, before chicken was industrially farmed and lost its special status. You’ll also find the chicken and pork cushions that have been on the menu since 1999 and won many awards. Expertly trussed, these are a firm favourite on the Cranleigh dinner-party circuit. Iain also prepares cuts like Jacob’s Ladder, making good use of his skills and expertise in butchery.
On the deli side they produce a range of award-winning pies and sausage rolls. They also cook their home-cured hams on site. Free-range hen and duck eggs are offered, as is prepared rabbit, pheasant and other game in season.
Not always on the counter but available to those in the know is Blue-Cheese Beef Wellington. Iain cleverly makes a dried spinach paper to seal in the beef juices and protect the pastry from getting soggy during cooking. The man is a genius and his celebrity customers think so too. But they don’t just deal in top-price cuts: Rawlings are famous for their faggots (a mixture of liver, pork, carrots, apples and onions with their special spice blend), which won a gold award at the British Pig executive recently. At 80p each they are an absolute bargain and perfect, Iain told me, with a pile of creamy mash and gravy – I believe him.