Meat

Meat

By
Margaret Fulton
Contains
61 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781740669269
Photographer
Geoff Lung

Most families have their favourite meals and they usually centre around the meat dish. Roast beef with crisp baked potatoes, savoury Yorkshire pudding and gravy is the first choice for many English people. Or, a common favourite is roast pork with crisp crackling, roasted apples and heavenly gravy.

In France, the choice may be a leg of lamb, scented with rosemary and a hint of garlic, sitting on a bed of sliced potatoes. A claim from the Irish for Irish stew, with its delicate wholesome flavour, is a reminder that it is not necessary to use the grander, more expensive cuts of meat to make a memorable dish. And, surely, no one has found a better dish than steak and kidney pie with its rich, brown peppery gravy, tender beef and delicious crust.

While the demand for expensive cuts of meat grows, good cooks everywhere agree that the more economical cuts can compete. They just require longer and slower cooking which, in addition to tenderising the meat, blends the multitude of flavours into one magnificent whole.

Beef

Beef is one of the prime meats, full of flavour and food value. In general, the characteristics of good freshly cut beef are a rich red to dark red colour, a firm and elastic touch and a fairly fine grain. There should be marbling with flecks of fat through the thicker parts and firm, smooth fat which is creamy white or yellowish, according to the breed of animal, age and the way it was fed. Store immediately by removing the wrapping and placing in the meat tray in the refrigerator or on a plate covered loosely with foil.

Beef cuts

Sirloin: Best for roasting. If cut thick, slices can be either grilled or pan-fried. It usually contains part of the fillet.

T-bone steaks: Cut from the sirloin, containing a piece of the fillet. Grill, pan-fry or barbecue.

Rib and rolled rib: Good for roasting. Two or three ribs make a good roast for a small family, although a larger piece allows for leftover cold beef, which is excellent for salads or sandwiches.

Rump: An excellent cut for grilling, pan-frying or the barbecue. Best cooked in a piece then cut into portionss.

Top side, silver side, round, chuck or stewing steak: Use for braising or boiling. Good too in stews and casseroles. Can be roasted in oven but requires larding with little strips of fat. Suitable for pot-roasting with vegetables.

Fillet: The classic undercut of the sirloin may be trimmed and oven roasted whole, cut into steaks and pan-fried or grilled.

Brisket: A fatty cut that is often salted for boiled beef. Unsalted, it is a good buy for pot roasts it is often rolled.

Minced beef: For hamburgers, meat loaves and pasta sauces.

Shin of beef: Mostly used with bones for stock. Requires very long, slow cooking in stews or casseroles. Good flavour with gelatinous texture.

Oxtail: For stews or soups. Ask the butcher to cut it into suitable joints.

Tongue: Mostly salted but can be fresh or smoked. Boil and serve cold or hot.

How much to buy: Allow approximately 185–250 g per person for boneless meat such as steak, meat for casseroles and stews, hamburgers and rolled roasts. Allow 250–315 g for meat with a large amount of bone.

A sirloin of beef is excellent for roasting. Slices can be either grilled, barbecued or pan-fried.

A rolled rib of beef is excellent for roasting or for pot-roasting with vegetables.

Roasted meats are easier to carve if allowed to ‘rest’ after cooking. Cover the meat loosely with foil and leave in a warm place for about 15 minutes.

Beef steak

Charcoal-grilled steaks are hard to beat, but pan-frying or grilling, if done properly, will produce the same result; a crisp savoury crust on the outside and juicy, tender beef on the inside.

The tender, choice cuts of beef, such as good quality rump, fillet and porterhouse, require only to be seasoned with salt and pepper.

When using tougher cuts such as oyster blade, round or topside, it is best to marinate the meat. This helps to tenderise as well as provide extra flavour. Marinate for at least 2 hours.

Marinade: Combine 1 sliced carrot, 1 sliced onion, 3 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon peppercorns, 1 bay leaf, 4 sprigs parsley, 2 sprigs thyme, 4 tablespoons oil and 1 cup red wine. Pour over the meat in a glass or china bowl. Sufficient for 1–1.5 kg steak. For white meats you may use white wine in place of the red wine. For large joints to be roasted, increase the wine to 2 cups.

Lamb

For sheer simplicity, a plump, sizzling, grilled lamb chop takes a lot to beat. Unless you prefer a tender leg of lamb cooked ‘to the pink’, or does your heart really long for an old fashioned Irish stew?

When buying lamb

The flesh is a pinkish colour, lighter in colour than beef and there should be an even coating of firm white fat. Very lean lamb is seldom good.

Leg: For roasting, braising or stewing. Sometimes the chump end is sold separately. If using mutton, make a curry or boil and serve with caper or parsley sauce.

Loin: Served whole for roasting or cut into chops for grilling. If whole, ask the butcher to cut through the chop bones for easier carving. It can also be boned and rolled for easy roasting.

Best neck: Cutlets are cut from the best end of the neck. They may be grilled or pan-fried.

Middle or scrag neck: Cheap and good for stews, casseroles or broth. There is a high proportion of bone to flesh so you need to allow 375 g per serve.

Shoulder: For roasting, it is often boned and filled with a stuffing, then rolled. Because it is a juicy and succulent joint, some prefer it for curries and stews.

Breast: Very fatty and requires careful preparation. I like to cook it, then cool it and remove the excess fat before using it in Irish stew and other casserole dishes.

Tongue: Often salted, then boiled and served hot with caper or parsley sauce. It can also be pressed and served cold.

Roasting lamb

In countries where lamb is plentiful, good and relatively inexpensive, the shoulder and leg seem to be the favourite cuts for what is often referred to as a ‘baked dinner’. In many homes, this was the Sunday family dinner. I say ‘was’ because times have changed, although there is a resurgence of this great treat as something we all want to be able to do.

A leg of lamb may be roasted on a rack, surrounded by potatoes, pumpkin and onions and is usually served with a gravy and mint sauce. Alternatively, it can be served Mediterranean-style with the colourful vegetables of that part of the world. A shoulder of lamb is treated in much the same way. The French like their lamb ‘pink’, while in Australia and England the taste is often for well-done lamb, although many of us now accept pink lamb and rather like it. It’s just a matter of taste. Loins and racks of lamb are often roasted, but they don’t seem to constitute the ‘roast’ of family meals.

Timing for a roast of lamb: Allow a total roasting time of approximately 20 minutes per 500 g, plus 20 minutes for lamb pink in the centre or 30 minutes for well-done lamb. Always rest the lamb for 15 minutes in a turned-off oven, with door ajar, or another warm place before carving. A shoulder of lamb requires less time.

Pork

A favourite in just about every country in the world, pork is at its best during the cold winter months. From a simple pork roast with crackling to chinese barbecued pork, italian pork involtini or hungarian goulash, pork turns up in all kind of dishes.

When buying pork

Look for pale pink flesh that is finely grained, with pearly white fat and thin skin.

Leg: For roasting. Make sure that you ask your butcher to score the skin.

Fillet: For roasting, grilling or, if cut into thin steaks, pan-frying.

Loin: For roasting, but score the skin first. Loin chops may be cut off this for pan-frying.

Shoulder: May be boned and rolled or purchased whole. Suitable for roasting or casseroles.

Spare ribs: Demand for spare ribs has encouraged butchers to prepare these for Chinese dishes and barbecues. As there is a high proportion of bone to flesh, allow about 375 g per serve.

Belly: Often sold salted, for boiling. If not too fat, fresh belly of pork is ideal for some Chinese dishes and for stuffing and roasting.

Hand and spring: This lower part of the shoulder is often sold salted for boiling. Can be boned and rolled for a roast. Requires long, careful cooking.

Liver: Makes an excellent pâté.

Veal

This delicate meat is versatile and practically every cut can be made into the most delicate dish, but it does require very careful cooking. Luckily, the rewards are well worth any pains you may have to take.

When buying veal: The flesh should be very pale with just a tinge of pink. There is very little fat, which should be white and satiny. There should be no unpleasant odour.

Fillet: For roasting. As it is very lean, baste regularly during cooking or wrap with a little bacon. The fillet is often cut into steaks or escalopes (scaloppini) and flattened for the thinner schnitzel.

Shoulder: For roasting. It may be bought on the bone or boned ready for stuffing and rolling. Good also for stews and goulash.

Nut: Cut from the thick part of the leg whole. Roast or use for casseroles and goulash.

Loin: Great for roasting or cutting into chops for pan-frying or casseroles.

Offal or variety meats

In many countries offal is just as prized as choice cuts of meat. Cervelles au beurre noir, or in english, brains in black butter sauce, is considered a dish fit for gourmets. As for myself, lamb’s fry with bacon when properly prepared is one of the best dishes.

Minced meat

For flavour and economy, rissoles or meatballs are a favourite. Minced meat is just as rich in protein as expensive cuts and so has an important place in the diet.

Cold meats

Meats for summer may be cooked in the cool of evening and refrigerated to form the basis of easy meals with salads, sauces and crisp relishes. These recipes include old favourites like corned beef, Aberdeen sausage and tongue, as well as sauces to serve with them.

Featured Recipes in this Chapter

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