This Father’s Day, despite the chilly weather, what better way to celebrate than by lighting up the ol’ braai, because let’s face it, nothing beats a traditional charcoal braai. Men get to revel in their ‘manliness’ while ladies get time out of the kitchen.
As a nation of meat eaters, South Africans take their braais seriously, but knowing how to cook the perfect cut of meat can be tricky, especially if it’s the grass-fed kind. Derek Bresgi of The Rare Meat Company, an exclusive supplier of high quality, humanely produced, free-range and grass-fed meat products, shares his top 5 tips on how to braai the perfect cut of ‘grass-fed’ meat.
Choose a quality product
Says Bresgi: “A great braai is nothing without a good quality cut of meat, the best quality being free-range, grass-fed meat.” Grass-fed meat comes from cattle that feed only on grass and are farmed in a much more ethical, sustainable manner than grain-fed cattle. “Not only is grass-fed meat tastier than grain-fed meat but it’s healthier too. It contains more Omega-3 fatty acids as well as Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), both of which can protect against various heart diseases. It also has more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than grain-fed beef and is free from any antibiotics and hormones.”
Know your cuts and cooking times
Once you’ve chosen to go the free-range, grass-fed route, it’s important to know how to cook your meat so you don’t end up wasting a good quality product. Chicken for example, needs a longer cooking time so should be placed on the braai first, while steak, wors and chops have shorter cooking times and can be cooked later. “Grass-fed meat is ideal for the braai as it cooks about 30 percent faster than grain-fed meat because the fat has a lower melting point,” says Bresgi. When cooking steak, the grill should be approximately 20cm above the coals which should still be hot. “You should not be able to hold your hand at grid level for longer than 5 seconds,” says Bresgi. “The recommended cooking times for steak are 6 minutes for rare, 8 minutes for medium and 10-12 minutes for well done.”
Preserve the flavour
One of the added advantages of eating grass-fed meat is the great quality and flavour. “It’s important to respect the integrity of the beef and not mask the flavour with unnecessary ingredients and marinades,” says Bresgi. “Because grass-fed meat is leaner, brush the meat with a little olive oil, this helps the searing process and prevents it from sticking to the grill and drying out. A simple squeeze of lemon over the meat can also do a lot for enhancing the flavour and tenderness. Salt draws out the juices and prevents browning. It can also make meat dry and tough so you should salt just before braaing or preferably after cooking,” says Bresgi.
Handle with care
If you’ve gone to the trouble of choosing a superior grass-fed product, knowing how to handle it is important. “Don’t defrost frozen meat in the microwave or in the sun, leave it in the fridge to thaw and don’t cook it cold, meat should be left at room temperature for at least 20 minutes before braaing,” says Bresgi. “Most importantly, don’t turn meat on the braai with a fork as this will allow the natural juices to escape and will result in a tougher product, rather use a good set of braai tongs. Turn the meat only once, 60% of the cooking time on one side and then turn and cook for the remaining 40% of the time on the other side. Lastly, allowing the meat to sit for 10 minutes on a warm plate will allow the juices to redistribute resulting in a succulent, flavoursome end product.”
There is a lot to be said about food and wine pairings of all kinds. As much as you don’t want to mask the flavour of the meat when preparing and cooking it, the same goes for what you eat and drink with the final product. “A nicely cooked piece of grass-fed meat pairs beautifully with lighter style craft beers and juicy red wines that aren’t too pungent and complement, rather than compete with, the flavour of the meat,” says Bresgi.
If you’ve gone to the effort to source and buy a good quality grass-fed meat product, then it’s worth the little bit of extra time and attention in preparing and cooking it as the end-result will be that much more satisfying.
About The Rare Meat Company
Established in 2006, The Rare Meat Company (Pty) Ltd is a supplier of top quality, flavoursome, grass-fed, free-range and grain-fed meat products that have been sourced from local, ethical producers which have been approved according to protocols registered with the South African Meat Industry Company (SAMIC). With experienced personnel, product know-how, high quality standards and modern equipment, The Rare Meat Company ensures a fully integrated animal production system where every aspect of meat production, from procurement, animal health, feeding, processing and distribution is monitored.
Headed by Derek Bresgi, the company is breaking new ground in the meat sector with the introduction of its Grasslands Protocol which defines a set of principles and fundamentals that address how the animals are raised, guaranteeing their well-being and humane treatment, as well as the quality and healthiness of the meat produced.
To purchase products visit The Rare Meat Company retail store at: RARE Quality Meats, Shop 75, Doringkloof Mall, Botha Avenue, Centurion. Tel: 012 667 5522 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information, stockists or direct delivery, contact the Rare Meat Company directly on tel: 011 316 3660 or email: email@example.com