If you don’t have a decent butcher on your doorstep don’t worry, you can still get the finest meat delivered

I don’t live in a ‘nice’ London postcode. Waitrose won’t set up shop anywhere near us and Ocado has an armed escort and throws the shopping at our door rather than risk stopping.

Well not really, but we do lack posh shops and the nearest proper butcher is many miles away. So we are at the mercy of the big supermarkets, and much as I like lamb, particularly at Easter, I have had too many expensive disappointments from supermarkets to ever buy it there again.

So Swaledale had me in interested with their talk of being an award-winning Yorkshire-based online butcher that works in partnership with small-scale, sustainable farms on The Dales. They specialise in heritage breeds of cattle, sheep and pigs, wild venison, and native game birds, supplying many a top restaurant.

The Dales are particularly noted for sheep farming, with hardy breeds such as Swaledale, Lonk, Dalesbred and Herdwick all foraging freely on the lush grass, herbs and flowers. The result is smaller, darker-fleshed lamb that tastes of the ‘terroir’, although I suspect many down to earth Yorkshire people would gag at such fancy French talk.

So we tried out some of their lamb by post. Lamb chops, because a perfectly cooked lamb chop chewed off the bone is one of life’s’ great pleasures. We also chose some Merguez sausages because we were intrigued to taste a Yorkshire merguez. Another great pleasure is eating merguez slapped into a buttery baguette, a staple snack at every French bric a brac market and always served with a barquette of freshly cooked from frozen frites and glass of raw vin rouge.

And just for ‘fun’ we also had some mutton chops. A lot of people give mutton a miss, it’s regarded as a bit old fashioned and can also be a bit too ‘gamey’ for modern tastes, but good mutton is well worth seeking out.

The lamb chops were excellent. The plan was to grill them on our new Weber, but while I factored in the weather I forgot it gets dark at 6pm, so we cooked them on a cast iron grill on the kitchen gas rings. Three to four minutes a side with the grill hot as Hades, the internal temp checked with the trusty Thermapen – overcooking lamb is a criminal offence, or should be.

The Merguez were the best I’ve tasted outside North Africa, quickly frying to an attractive gold colour and with a firm snap to the skins. We ate some cooked with red peppers dobbed with a poached egg, and the next day sliced into pieces in a couscous. My suggestion that we should also have them for breakfast was vetoed.

Finally the mutton chops. For these we thought we’d be a little adventurous and used the recipe from the take it easy chef for mutton chops karnatkas style. This involved pressure cooking the chops in some water and spices before adding a masala mix and simmering for twenty or so minutes.

Indian cooks use pressure cookers a lot, they’re fast and energy efficient. Here the cooker turned the meat very tender without taking hours of slow cooking. Lots of flavour and an authentic taste.

So we were impressed with Swaledale’s lamb. As traditional quality butchers become harder to find, and hard to afford, mail order meat is certainly a great way to go.