Try as I might, I found it impossible to get a clear shot of the Barker Bros shop front. The constant flow of cars and people through the door made sure of that, and left me wondering what all the fuss was about.
According to their website the earliest record of this Butchers Shop is a magistrates document in 1843 (a whopping 180 years ago). Brass weights were stolen from the shop with the culprits sent to Australia for their crime! It’s quite possible that they’ve been around longer than that, but there are no records to confirm it.
Truth is Barker Bros Butchers is much more than a Butchers Shop nowadays. Sporting an impressive selection of fruit and veg, a deli, bread, and even Mrs Barker’s pies!
I visited a few years ago and even since then things have changed quite a bit. In recent times the Barkers have opened up the space with a view on improving the visibility of their work. You walk in and are surrounded by high quality produce, and can see straight through to their expert butchers working in the back.
Because they’ve got so much space they’re able to do things many butchers cannot. Dry aging on site, and taking the time to cure their own bacon. This attention to quality isn’t a recent phenomenon though, they’ve been members of the Q Guild of Butchers for 25 years.
Time to talk about the all important sausages. When I asked in one of the local groups everyone raved about the award winning Shelford Specials, and there were a couple of nods for their Italian sausages too. I picked up another of their regular options the Pork, Cheese & Spring Onion. Resisting the temptation to treat resident hot head Sy to the deadly looking Chilli sausages.
I was cooking for quite a few more people this time, so opted for sausage sandwiches to keep things simple. Cooking the Bangerbility test sausages in the pan for consistency and the rest in the oven for my sanity. Couldn’t resist throwing in some rashers of their self cured and smoked streaky for good measure.
No water at all when cooking the bacon, just bubbling fat. I was in the mood for crispy, and crispy it was, with a satisfying snap and oodles of smokey flavour. I think it would work beautifully crumbled over a nice decadent Mac’n’Cheese.
Among the three sausages, the people of Great Shelford were right. The Shelford Specials were absolutely outstanding. Peppery and flavourful, sometimes it drives me mad not knowing the secret recipe. The Cheese & Spring Onion tasted as expected, perhaps even a little cheesier than expected. Whilst the Italian, in the face of the punchy flavours of the other two offered a milder profile, less to my taste but I can see why it’s a popular option for others. I particularly enjoyed the texture of all of them, a little more crumbly than most, which I guess is down to how they’ve ground the pork.
On balance despite the Shelford Special being the best banger I’ve had so far, I enjoyed the others a little less. So it’s only fair give them a bangerbility score of 4, and I may have to start keeping an individual sausage league to track my favourites.
There were definitely more beards at this butchers shop, I spotted at least two. But I’m still looking for a proper pair of mutton chops or a handlebar mustache to push the scores up. Three mutton chops out of five.
They’ve got something for everyone at Barker Bros Butchers, are clearly passionate about what they do, and draw a crowd of very loyal customers. I love the layout and the amount of space, something that you’re not always afforded in other Butcheries. Well worth a visit, if only to stock up on some of their Shelford Specials!