Cooking meat can be a tricky process no matter how experienced you are in the kitchen, but according to the experts, there’s no need to be afraid of it. In fact, butcher Steve Rosevear from Steve’s Fine Meats in Carlingford, who spoke to Starts at 60 this week, says that his number one piece of advice is just that.
“Don’t be afraid of it,” he says. “There’s so many people who are so afraid of killing a good piece of meat or overcooking it. They don’t have the confidence. So part of our job is just to give people that confidence and give them the knowledge.”
So, if you’re on the hunt for the top tips on perfecting a piece of meat, here’s some sage advice that’s come directly from the mouth of an expert!
With so many different cuts of meat and ways to dish it up, it can be hard to know what’s going to suit certain occasions. But this is where a butcher comes in handy, as the second you tell them you’ll be serving up to 10 to 12 people, the first question they’ll usually ask is: “What’s the occasion?”
Steve suggests that if it’s an adult dinner party that’s centred around the barbecue, anything is acceptable but he likes to look at the items that are easier to eat like kebabs, sausages or even steaks. But kids on the other hand appreciate the novelty of food a bit more than adults so appealing to that factor is likely to be the key.
“For kids, you can do spaghetti bolognese and mince,” he says. “Otherwise, they often enjoy things they can use their hands with, so something like sausages, where they can put them in a piece of bread and drown them in sauce is a nice easy meal. Even something like little beef skewers or lamb cutlets are always popular because the kids can grab hold of them and eat them that way.”
And if you’re serving up to those with a smaller appetite or those over 60, size definitely matters. Butchers will likely cut things a bit smaller or thinner to allow for a more manageable size for those who wouldn’t be interested in something larger like a rump steak or a massive T-bone.
If you’re looking to present something delicious while simultaneously show off your kitchen mastery, Steve says there are a few easy ways to go about it. Firstly, you can’t go wrong with a good old roast dinner, and getting it perfect is easier with a little bit of help.
“It’s all about knowing the size, temperature and cooking methods. But that’s one of the best things about going to a butcher is you can ask them. Talk to them and ask these questions when they’re weighing it up and they can give you a pretty close and accurate timing on how long it will take,” he says.
Steve also suggests offering guests something along the lines of a nice piece of standing rib roasts (which is just scotch fillet on the bone) as it looks super impressive sitting on the centre of a table. The same goes for lamb racks or even a butterfly leg of lamb of which is not only easy to cook and carve up but also super versatile in how it can be served, whether it’s with veggies or in a wrap with some salad and tabouli.
Meanwhile, those planning to bring out the slow cooker for the event will want to look at cooking either beef or lamb. Anything from lamb shanks to a lamb shoulder or even neck or forequarter chops tend to have the highest muscle content which breaks down nicely over a long period of time on a low temperature. This also helps to enrich a good sauce or gravy as well.
When it comes to deciding where you get your meat from, as a butcher himself, Steve obviously backs the local route. But he adds that there are a whole range of important benefits that come from getting your meat from local businesses.
“You come into a shop and you’re not just buying a piece of meat, you’re buying their knowledge and personal experience,” he says. “It’s just that contact you have with your butcher, whether it be the conversation or cooking advice, we just try to make the experience as pleasurable as we can.”
And if you want to celebrate your local butcher then November is the month to do it as Meat and Livestock Australia’s Australian Butchers Guild Program has kicked off by partnering with TV personality Jessica Rowe to share the stories of local butchers just like Steve who help make the most of the summer beef and lamb. They’ve even released a series of videos full of cooking tips that can be viewed here.
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