- Meet the chefs-turned-butchers helping us to buy (and cook) better meat
- Chefs share their favourite underrated cuts of meat (and how to cook them)
Laura Dalrymple and Grant Hilliard, of sustainably focused butchers Feather and Bone, have spent the past 14 years fielding customers' curly ethical questions about the meat they sell. In their book The Ethical Omnivore, they set out to answer those questions, and to make food production systems a little more transparent. They believe that although it may require more work and you may eat less, there are ways to eat sustainably produced, ethically raised meat on a budget. These beef recipes, from Feather and Bone's community of chefs, butchers, farmers, activists and domestic cooks, cover all parts of the animal.
Sydney chef and restaurateur Dan Johnstone describes peposo as a rich, heavily peppered beef stew from Tuscany, made with the local red wine. "At Don Peppino's we finish it with crispy lardons to make it even more banging and delicious. Any succulent piece of braising beef will work. We use a combo of beef neck/chuck and rib or short rib meat."
- 1kg boneless beef neck, cut into large cubes
- 1kg boneless short rib, cut into large cubes
- 40g freshly ground black pepper, plus extra to serve
- 110ml olive oil
- 2 brown onions, thinly sliced
- 2 carrots, sliced
- 2 celery stalks, sliced
- 250g button mushrooms, sliced
- 100g tomato paste
- 1 litre (4 cups) red wine
- 6 thyme sprigs
- 1 litre (4 cups) chicken stock
- 200g guanciale (available from select delicatessens), cut into lardons about the size of a pinkie finger
- Place beef in a large bowl and cover with pepper – more than you think is healthy – and some salt. Marinate in the fridge for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 130C fan-forced (150C conventional).
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, deep-sided frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot and celery, and saute for about 10 minutes, getting some nice deep, golden-brown colour action. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for a further 10 minutes or until soft and sweet.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a frying pan over high heat and saute mushrooms for 2-3 minutes until golden. Add mushrooms to vegetables and add tomato paste. Cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes, then add wine and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes or until wine is reduced by about half.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a separate large frying pan over high heat. Sear beef in batches, turning, for 5-10 minutes or until deeply browned on all sides, taking care not to overcrowd the pan, and transferring each batch to a large roasting tin or casserole dish.
- Pour vegetable and wine mixture over the beef, and add enough chicken stock to just cover. Cover tightly with a lid or foil, place in the oven and cook for about 3 hours, checking occasionally. You want the meat tender and soft but not completely falling apart.
- Add guanciale to a small cold frying pan with 2 teaspoons oil. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until fat renders and guanciale is crisp and golden. Drain on paper towel. When beef is ready, lift the meat out of the pan. Strain the braising liquor through a fine strainer, season to taste, then pour the liquor back over the meat. Stir in the guanciale and serve.
A contemporary Australian spin on a traditional pot roast. Photo: Alan Benson
Phillip's pot roast of beef
Phillip Sheard, a retail customer at Sydney's Feather and Bone, describes this dish as a contemporary Australian spin on a traditional pot roast. "It's a guaranteed favourite at our house, but you can't rush it – slow-cooking what can be a tougher cut of beef yields a succulent result that's definitely worth the wait. You can cook this recipe in the oven or on the stove – I find the oven easier. In our house, we don't add salt to anything so this recipe doesn't include salt. If you like to add salt while cooking, then do so to suit your taste."
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1.5kg piece boneless chuck, tied with kitchen string (you may need to order ahead from your butcher)
- 2 brown onions, thinly sliced
- 300ml red wine or verjuice
- 150ml beef stock
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1-2 long red chillies (optional)
- 2 small dried ancho chillies or dried red chillies
- 2 tsp black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- Preheat oven to 140C fan-forced (160C conventional). Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over high heat, add chuck and sear, turning, for 8-10 minutes or until browned all over. Remove beef from pan and set aside on a plate.
- Reduce heat to medium, add onion and cook, stirring regularly, for 10 minutes or until soft and golden. Return beef to pan, add wine and enough stock or water to come two-thirds of the way up the side of the beef. Add garlic, chillies, peppercorns and bay leaves, increase heat to high and bring to a simmer.
- Cover with a lid, transfer to oven and roast, turning the pan every 30-40 minutes, for 3½ hours, until beef is very tender. Remove beef from saucepan and transfer to a plate for 10 minutes to rest.
- While beef is resting, place saucepan with cooking juices over high heat, bring to the boil and cook, scraping the base with a wooden spoon, for 5-10 minutes or until reduced to your liking. A thicker sauce will have a more intense flavour. Remove the dried chillies. Carve the meat, removing the kitchen string, and spoon over some of the reduced sauce. Serve with remaining reduced sauce on the side.
Serve the steak with tortillas, sour cream, guacamole and a slice of lime or on a bed of lettuce and seasonal roasted vegies. Photo: Alan Benson
Topher's Tex-Mex skirt tortillas with sour cream and salsa
Texas-born brewer Topher Boehm, of Wildflower Brewing & Blending in Sydney's Marrickville, cooks a lot of Tex-Mex at home. "I love this dish because it can feed a crowd. You can serve the steak with tortillas, sour cream, guacamole and a slice of lime or on a bed of lettuce and seasonal roasted vegies. Skirt steak is also generally pretty cheap."
- finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
- finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons or the flesh of 2 finger limes
- 160g (1 cup) finely chopped pineapple or 3 tablespoons pineapple juice
- 3 tbsp dry white wine
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2-3 dried chillies (I like mixing chilli de arbol with guajillo and ancho chillies, available from select grocers and online)
- 1 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1kg skirt steak, trimmed of membrane and excess fat
- tortillas, sour cream, fresh salsa, guacamole and lime wedges, to serve
- Mix up all the ingredients, except the steak, with a splash of water in a large bowl. Add steaks, refrigerate, and let them have a bath in the liquid for 1-2 hours.
- Drain the marinade and cook steaks, turning once, over hot coals (or under a grill, or on a gas barbecue on high heat) for 8-10 minutes, until medium-rare (but no longer or they'll be tough). Skirt needs to be seared at high heat so it doesn't stew and toughen.
- Remove from heat, rest for about 10 minutes, then slice meat against the grain into long strips about the width of your pinkie finger.
- Serve steak with tortillas, sour cream, fresh salsa, guacamole and lime wedges.
Oyster blade responds beautifully to a quick cook on a fire when prepared properly. Photo: Alan Benson
Valentyna's oyster blade with green sauce
Valentyna Juskin says one of the ironies of her life as a beef farmer is that well-hung, carefully butchered animals are often difficult to access. "When we do have some available, we opt for cuts such as flank, shin and chuck, enjoying their deeper flavour. Oyster blade is delicious slow-roasted to break down its middle membrane and connective tissue." But prepared and hung properly, she says it responds beautifully to a quick cook on a fire or in a cast-iron pan lightly brushed with oil and heated until wisps of smoke rise.
- 4 oyster blade steaks (about 250-300g each), at room temperature
- boiled new potatoes and steamed green beans, to serve
- handful finely chopped mixed soft herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, dill, tarragon, mint and chives
- 110g (½ cup) pitted and finely chopped green olives
- finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 250ml (1 cup) olive oil
- Dijon mustard, to taste
- To make the green sauce, take the time to finely chop herbs and olives by hand, to ensure your sauce doesn't taste like the smell of lawn clippings. Combine in a bowl with lemon zest, lemon juice and garlic. Add enough olive oil to make a loose dressing, then add mustard, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- If you're cooking the steak over a fire, make sure your coals are white-hot and the grill plate is smoking. If using the stovetop, you may need to use two cast-iron pans; make sure they are super-hot and well-seasoned, so the steaks don't stick.
- Season steaks on both sides with salt and place on the grill or in your pan/s. Cook for about 6 minutes, turn, then cook for a further 6 minutes until browned. Depending on their thickness, this should get you to medium-rare, which is perfect. When the steaks are cooked to your liking, remove from the grill, let them rest for 5 minutes, then slice across the grain and season to taste with salt.
- Serve with the green sauce and potatoes and beans.