The ultimate guide to cooking the perfect meat

Meat is meat and if your dad loves to eat it, then this is the ultimate guide for getting the best out of your meat.

Patience is always key when it comes to preparing red meat, whether it’s in the kitchen or on the braai.

Spencer Nicholls knows all about patience when it comes to meat. He is the Head Butcher at Farmer Angus, one of the only two grass-fed beef producers in the Western Cape.

He’s shared these few tips to keep in mind when selecting and preparing your red meat

Choosing your cuts of beef

  • It all comes down to FAT. If you don’t like fat then buy fillet or thick flank (tip is to get your butcher to cut this for you) or topside. 
  • We are fat lovers and so we choose brisket, rib-eye on the bone, oxtail and a special delicacy namely the flap of the rib-eye.

What to cook with the cut you buy?

  • The meal you want to cook, will be determined by how much time you have and what the occasion is. 
  • If you have some time, and its cold outside then nothing beats an oxtail stew can take up to six hours to cook. 
  • If you have plenty of time try steak tartare using thick flank, is the way to go.

What’s the deal with fillet?  

  • Fillet is overrated. It has no flavour, which is why it’s usually served with a sauce. 
  • It is however very soft, which is why it’s so popular. 
  • What’s important to note is that fillet eaters are only consuming less than 1% of the carcass and hence are missing out on most of what the animal offers. 
  • Should you only want to cook fillet, we recommend slicing it finely and frying it in butter and lemon. 
  • Otherwise wait until all your teeth have fallen out, because there are much more delicious cuts to choose from.
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Tips for seasoning and basting your meat. Picture by Carmen Lorraine Photography.

Meat preparation

  • Grass-fed beef is generally cooked at a lower temperature than grain-fed beef. 
  • The time of cooking depends on how raw you like your meat. We like it medium-rare. 
  • Overcooked meat gives no joy. It is ideal to have the meat out of the fridge for half an hour prior to cooking but it’s not that important. 
  • What is essential is to never to cook meat directly from frozen.

Seasoning and basting

  • South Africans have been eating feedlot beef for so long, that the only way to get real flavour and enjoyment from it is by basting or sauces. 
  • Beef that cannot be eaten without a sauce does not deserve to be eaten. 
  • If you have to use any seasoning, sprinkle some unwashed sea salt you’re your meat. In this way, you get to truly taste the farmer’s pastures and not the feedlots GMO corn.

Resting your meat

  • Resting grilled meat is critical. 
  • This process allows the heat to travel throughout the piece of meat and also gives the cells a chance to relax so it can release some of its delicious juices. 
  • The cells tense up during cooking.

Ideal cooking methods 

  • This depends on what you’re cooking. 
  • I fry my burger patties, rib-eye on bone, sirloin, rump and sausages in a griddle pan. 
  • For the flatiron steak and spider steak, I like to fry them in a pan with ghee or pork lard.

For more on Farmer Angus go to www.farmerangus.co.za

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