In conversation with… Bruce Paterson, Wagyu Beef Farmer at Worstead Estate

This month, we teamed up with Worstead Wagyu to include their high-quality beef in our July meat box.

Worstead Estate is a third generation, family run, mixed farming estate in North Norfolk, growing green fuel for a local AD plant, potatoes, carrots and salad, as well as pedigree beef cattle, including Japanese Wagyu. They share our ethos of ensuring the highest animal welfare and well-being.

We caught up with Bruce Paterson, to see how the business has coped with Covid-19 and to get some juicy details on the Wagyu steaks included in this month’s Morton’s meatbox.

How has Covid 19 impacted the farm? Mostly, the farm has been largely unaffected, other than ensuring the safety and hygiene of our staff and their families in these crazy times! Normally we see lone working as a health and safety concern, but it has enabled us to keep our wheels turning.

Are there any lessons you have learned from the pandemic?  That all food producers are under valued – going back to the start of the pandemic, when shelves were stripped and suppliers struggled to keep up with demand from supermarkets and their customers. I really hope that both the public and supermarkets put more value on those that produce for their shelves, and their families.

Are there any new consumer behaviours that you hope continue? Locally sourced produce – sourcing direct has been a big boost for many food producers. They don’t rely on a big warehouse production line, the fruits of the producer’s labour are fully valued, and boosts the local economy, not a faceless multi-national.

Tell us a little about the steaks included the Morton’s July box? Wagyu beef is often heard about, but rarely tasted. This beef has been slow reared and finished on a bespoke by-product only blend to enhance the marbling.

You’re the first farm in Norfolk to raise the first Wagyu herd – tell us how that came to be and where you source your cows from? It’s a project that was often discussed amongst our family for many years and with the sale of our dairy herd in 2016, we looked to retain staff and their expertise to start up the project. We sourced our founding heifer and a batch of embryos from the other side of the country and 4 long years later, we have our first batch of F1 Wagyu Cross beef for sale, as well as the first fullbood in the freezer.

What’s special F1 Wagyu cross and the fullblood? The F1 Wagyu Cross beef is the warm up act, a hybrid of Wagyu and more conventional breeds that most have seen and tasted before e.g. Aberdeen Angus. The Wagyu genetics bring out that healthy marbled intra-muscular fat to create a tender buttery taste. For the fullblood Wagyu that flavour intensifies into a smoother texture along with a subtle sweetness and aroma, or Umami.

What are your top tips for cooking the best steak?  I always like to let the beef do the talking, and I’m not one for fancy recipes. Do the simple things well… defrost in the fridge the night before, bring up to room temperature just before cooking. Pat dry the steak before a light seasoning, basic salt and pepper will do for me. With Wagyu, I would say oil/butter is optional, as the fat in the steak could well do this for you. I always aim for a medium-rare finish, and never forget to rest your steak to allow it to relax.

July’s Meat Box (£45) includes: 

2 x ribeye steaks (250g)

2 x sirloin steaks (250g) (Frozen)

4 x steak burgers (150g) (Frozen)

1 x pack of pork sausages (6 per pack) (Frozen)

1 x pack of Cumberland sausages (6 per pack) (Frozen)

Order can be made via ​www.mortonsfarm.co.uk/product/july-norfolk-steak-tour/​.

All orders for July’s meat box will be sent via courier on Thursday 23rd July.