I’m an idiot when it comes to meat. An ignorant, overcautious lout. A pan of minced beef cooked in lard or dripping is fine for me. Most of my pre-zerocarb adult (brainwashed) life was a steak-free and red meat-free zone, so I struggle not to default to mince and bacon and eggs as my staples. (I used to think that the pepperoni on a pizza was the unhealthy bit!)
However, what’s sauce for me isn’t necessary sauce for you. (I’m not going to discuss eating goose meat – it gives me gooseflesh. You can PayPal donations for that joke to my email address on request). I thought I’d have a hunt around to see if I could find a few interesting or little-known portions of knowledge about meat so we can all broaden our horizons.
1 – secret burger ingredient: bone marrow. Ask your butcher for beef legs sawn in half lengthways. Then you can scoop out the marrow and mix it with your mince to make your burgers.
1 (a) there’s another secret ingredient, but it’s not ZC (nearly, but nearly isn’t good enough) – made from vinegars and fermented anchovies (with a dash of molasses and sugar), Worcester sauce can add hugely to your home-made burger’s popularity.
2 – if your cut of meat comes from the front of the animal, it’s where the muscles have been working hardest, supporting more weight – neck, shoulder, foreshin (no ‘k’ in there!). These cuts require long, slow, moist cooking.
3 – if your cut of meat comes from the middle of the animal, where they’ve done less work – rib, sirloin, fillet – then it can be cooked quickly and served rare.
4 – if your cut of meat comes from the rear of the animal, they’ve done a medium amount of work – silverside, rump, shin – and can be grilled, roasted or braised.
5 – meat glue is made from transglutaminase, an enzyme derived from the blood plasma of pigs and cattle, that causes blood to clot and binds proteins strongly. It’s a white powder used in the food industry that, when mixed with chunks of meat and left for a few hours, binds them all together into a ‘steak’. Or a skin-free sausage. If three strips of meat are glued to form a steak, and then eaten rare, there is a real danger of bacterial infection and food poisoning (not with a real steak, since the internal flesh is sterile and the outside, where pathogens might lurk, is seared). Banned in the EU (although what happens here after Brexit is anyone’s guess) it’s still used in the US and other countries. So watch out!
6 – if you like a salty tang to your burgers, do NOT add salt to your burger mix – when you convert the mix into burgers, they will dry out from the inside. Yuk. Salt the outside of your burgers just before cooking for a juicier middle and crispier outside, or wait until they’re cooked.
7 – as a non-steak person for much of my life, I’ve just got used to the received wisdom that you really need to cook your steak at a high temperature. Now here’s this method, from gentleman scientist and molecular gastronomist Nathan Myrhvold: freeze your steak solid; sear the outside in a pan; then bake the steak in the oven at a very low temperature for around an hour. Crusty on the outside, apparently, and buttery on the inside. I will try this method and let you know. Or you try it and let me know. OK?
Till next time.