Ever since John Susman, Anthony Huckstep and Steve Hodges wrote The Australian Fish and Seafood Cookbook in 2016, I have been waiting for the equivalent wide-ranging, authoritative and helpful tome on meat. This is one of the most important books to emerge in 2018, because what Anthony Puharich doesn't know about beef, veal, chicken, duck, goose, turkey, lamb, goat, pork or game isn't worth knowing. And while there are some top-cut recipes from the likes of David Thompson and Kylie Kwong, the ones from recipe developer Emma Knowles are the biz.
Skirt steak fajitas
1 kg inside skirt steak (see note)
60ml (¼ cup) lime juice
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for cooking
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 pinch of dried chilli flakes
3 capsicums, thinly sliced (a mix of red, yellow and green works well)
1 red onion, thinly sliced
Pico de gallo
4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 small white onion, finely chopped
½ cup coarsely chopped coriander
2 jalapeno chillies, thinly sliced
juice of 1 lime
1. Combine the lime juice, olive oil, garlic, cumin and chilli flakes in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Combine half the marinade with the steak in a resealable plastic bag, massaging well into the meat, and refrigerate to marinate for at least 3 hours (and ideally overnight for best flavour). Bring the steak to room temperature before grilling.
2. Combine the remaining marinade with the capsicum and onion in a bowl, cover and refrigerate to marinate.
3. To make the pico de gallo, toss the tomatoes with the salt, transfer to a sieve and set it over a sink to drain for 30 minutes. Put the drained tomato into a bowl with all of the remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Set up a kettle barbecue for direct grilling, heating until the charcoal is white hot, or heat a gas barbecue to high. While the barbecue is heating, remove the steak from the marinade. Grill the steak on the barbecue, turning once, for 8 to 10 minutes until well charred and cooked to medium-rare: a thermometer should read 52C. Cover loosely with foil and set aside to rest for 15 to 20 minutes; the steak will continue to cook as it rests.
5. Meanwhile, heat a splash of olive oil in a frying pan on the barbecue until smoking (alternatively, you can do this over high heat on the stovetop). Drain the capsicum mixture from the marinade, put it in the pan and fry, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes until tender and beginning to scorch. Set aside. Pour any juices that have accumulated from the resting meat into the pan and set aside.
6. To serve, thinly slice the steak across the grain and serve with the capsicum, pico de gallo, guacamole, coriander, warmed tortillas and lime wedges.
Note: Depending on the length of your steak and the size of your barbecue, you may need to cut your steak to fit.
Schnitty sandwiches. Photo: Alan Benson
Chicken schnitzel sandwiches
2 skinless chicken breast fillets
plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, for dusting
3 eggs, lightly whisked
185g day-old coarse white breadcrumbs
35g (⅓ cup) finely grated parmesan cheese
1½ tablespoons finely chopped thyme
finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus the lemon
cut into wedges to serve
olive oil, for shallow-frying
white or sourdough rolls, buttered if desired
mayonnaise or aioli
shredded baby cos lettuce
sliced cucumber pickles
1. Halve each chicken breast horizontally to create two flat pieces, then flatten with a meat mallet to an even 4mm thickness.
2. Put the seasoned flour and whisked eggs in separate bowls. Combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan, thyme and lemon zest in a separate bowl and season with salt and pepper. Dip each piece of chicken in the flour, then the egg, shaking off excess. Dip into the breadcrumb mixture, pressing the breadcrumbs onto the chicken, coating it completely. Lay the coated pieces in a single layer on a tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes to set the coating.
3. Heat 2cm of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, add the chicken in batches and shallow-fry, turning occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on paper towel.
4. To serve, spread bread rolls with a little mayonnaise or aioli. Top with schnitzel, season with salt and pepper, squeeze a little lemon juice over, then add lettuce and pickles. Sandwich and serve with lemon wedges.
Note: If you prefer a crunchier schnitzel, use panko or dried breadcrumbs, or for a different flavour, try using rye breadcrumbs.
Beef stroganoff stew with steamed rice. Photo: Alan Benson
600g beef tri-tip, trimmed of sinew
olive oil, for cooking
30g butter, chopped
1 large brown onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp sweet paprika
300g Swiss brown mushrooms, thickly sliced
300ml beef stock
250g sour cream
1 tsp seeded mustard
1 fresh bay leaf
finely grated zest of half a lemon, plus a squeeze of juice
coarsely chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
gherkins or your favourite pickles
1. Slice the tri-tip across the grain into 5mm slices, then cut into 1.5cm strips.
2. Heat a splash of olive oil along with the butter in a large enamelled cast-iron casserole over medium–high heat until the butter foams. Add the onion and saute, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes until the onion is very tender and light golden. Add the garlic and paprika, stir until fragrant, then transfer to a plate. Increase the heat to high, add a splash of olive oil if necessary, and fry the mushrooms in the casserole for 4 to 5 minutes until browned, then transfer to a plate.
3. Add an extra splash of olive oil to the casserole if necessary, then add the beef in batches and sear, turning occasionally, for 1 to 1½. minutes until well browned, but still a little pink in the middle: make sure you don't overcrowd the pan as the meat will stew, rather than caramelise. Transfer to a plate.
4. Deglaze the pan with the brandy, scraping the base of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the beautiful browned crusty bits, and cook for a minute or so to burn off the alcohol. Add the stock, sour cream, mustard and bay leaf, along with the onion and the mushroom, stir to combine and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until well flavoured and slightly reduced.
5. Stir in the beef and any juices that have formed on the plate, the lemon rind and a squeeze of lemon juice, bring back to a simmer, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Scatter with parsley and serve with steamed rice and gherkins.
Images and recipes from Meat: The Ultimate Companion by Anthony Puharich and Libby Travers, Murdoch Books, RRP $79.99, photography by Alan Benson.