Name: Tim Wilson
Position: Owner, Founder of Ginger Pig, Farmer
Where did the idea of Ginger Pig come from?
I bought a farmhouse in Harwell, Nottinghamshire, in 1990 and started renovating it to sell on as an idyllic country home. During the renovation I installed a pigsty in the front yard and got three pigs, a few ducks and some hens. Then one day I answered a knock at the door. The man on my doorstep claimed to be a retired butcher; he matter-of-factly told me that my pigs would need to be slaughtered soon as they were reaching full maturity. I duly took them to the abattoir and my newfound butcher friend made some of the meat into bacon and sausages.
The experience of seeing how food travelled from field to fork sparked off an interest that became a passion, and I’ve retained it ever since. It wasn’t long before I decided to have a go at breeding Tamworth pigs. I acquired three pure-bred gilts (female sows that have never been pregnant), and named them Milly, Molly and Mandy, and i’ve never looked back.
Who taught you your butchery skills?
I’m predominately self taught, from reading books like John Seymour’s Self-Sufficiency (1973) and Jane Grigson’s Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery (1970), putting theory into practice by selling meat locally in Nottinghamshire during the farmhouse renovation, and then again in the mid ‘90s with my first London site – a tiny counter in what was then the Food Lovers Market, now Borough Market. I still keep my hand in occasionally, but I leave it to the professionals now.
What’s your favourite cut?
Shoulder of pork – I’m far more of a pork man than any other meat.
In your opinion, why is butcher best?
A good butcher can tell you where their meat is from both geographically and by breed, how long it’s been aged for, how to cook a certain cut etc. And currently, we’re very lucky that there are such a growing number of butchers in the UK doing just that. That level of precise knowledge is extremely important, and i’m personally very committed to knowing exactly what’s going on and seeing how we can maintain and improve on the high standards our customers have come to expect from their local Ginger Pig.
What’s your go-to recipe?
I haven’t got one, but I have got a cooking tip to share: don’t add unnecessary flavour to your meat, keep it simple and let the quality of the meat shine through. An easy example is don’t add water to a pot roast, instead the vegetables and juices from the meat you’re using will create a really intense and wonderful sauce by themselves when reduced a little. When you’ve got a quality cut of meat you shouldn’t have to add a dry stock cube to the dish to create flavour, the flavour is already there.
Favourite flavour sausage roll?
Unquestionably, pork & stilton.