Crawshawbooth butcher Geoff Riley on why spring lamb is his favourite meat
PUBLISHED: 00:00 24 April 2017 | UPDATED: 09:54 24 April 2017
Spring lamb heralds the starts of a new season for Crawshawbooth butcher Geoff Riley
‘It’s got to be a rack of lamb for me,’ said Geoff Riley, who runs family business Riley’s Butchers in Crawshawbooth with wife, Paula. ‘Seal the meat in the pan and then pop it into the oven for 12 – 15 minutes with some seasoning. You can’t beat it. It’s delicious.’
The start of the spring lamb season is an important time for the 44-year-old, who has run the butcher’s in Crawshawbooth for almost 30 years. Not only is it his favourite meat but it also gives him the chance to showcase meat reared by some of Lancashire’s farmers. Early season lambs are reared on farms near Clitheroe and in later months they come from the Cumbrian fells.
‘Like all of our meat, the lamb is excellent quality,’ said Geoff. ‘It is very pink and very tender and something our customers really like. I’m lucky to have farmers who are very good at what they do.
‘It really does show in the quality of the meat. And then we have the knowledge and experience to prepare it properly. We’re very proud of what we do. Some of our spring lamb with some new potatoes and green veggies, which we get from the veg shop in Rawtenstall, works really well. A bit of mint sauce, too. Superb. Chops are fantastic too. It’s really popular with our customers.’
Geoff grew up on the family farm in Dunnockshaw learning his trade. Although he wanted to go into farming, he followed his dad, also Geoff, and uncle, Jim into the butcher’s shop. The family also used to have another shop in Crawshawbooth, which is no longer open.
‘I started working in the shop straight out of school at 15,’ said Geoff. ‘I was working with the manager, helping out to cover holidays and learn from him. When he moved on I took over and I’ve been there ever since.
‘Farming has been in my family for about 150 years. And we had a butcher’s in Crawshawbooth since the year dot. I absolutely love what I do. It’s really good for me as a butcher to work so closely with farmers to get what we need and I love the customers who come to us.’
Over the last almost 30 years, Geoff has developed and expanded the business sourcing meat from local farms including beef which comes from suppliers no more than a mile away. Riley’s has been awarded prestigious awards as well as being shortlisted for Butcher of the Year in the last eight out of nine years.
‘I love cooking and eating and I think that really helps me be a good butcher,’ said Geoff, who has children Cooper, 13, Burton, 11 and Betsy-Beau, 10. ‘I’ll cook things at home and try them out and if I don’t like it then I won’t use it. I share ideas with my customers too. It gives me a lot of enjoyment.’