"Have a beer and a conversation so you don't stuff around with it" says Craig of MuMu Grill, as he gives us advice on how to properly cook beef. The key tip is to look for chargrill marks. Grill it for 2½ minutes, rotate it 90 degrees and grill for another 2½ minutes then flip and do the same. As important as the cooking stage, it is also crucial to rest the meat for half the amount of time it took to cook.
But before I get carried away with my learnings from MuMu's Beef & Beer class, let me first share a little bit about the background of eating beef.
Demonstration of the different cuts of beef
I was pretty shocked to discover that only 20% of a cow is considered the primary cut. This consists of the rump, tenderloin which the eye fillet is cut from, scotch and sirloin. The meat ranges on a scale from tender to tough. On the tougher end of the range are shanks used in osso bucco which require vast hours of cooking time and have the most flavour. Apparently, the scotch fillet has the ideal balance between tenderness and flavour.
The next stage is of course the ageing of the meat. Craig recommends one month wet ageing followed by one week dry ageing. The ideal is a total of 42 - 50 days as he has found no further benefits to the flavour or tenderness if it is aged any longer.
He also highly recommends grass-fed beef in contrast to grain-fed beef. And there are health advantages accompanying this argument. So not only do you get a greater natural beef flavour, but you also get a better Omega-3 ratio. Cattle fed primarily grass enhanced the omega-3 content of beef by 60% and also produces a more favorable omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. Conventional beef contains a 4:1 6:3 ratio while grass-only diets produce a 2:1 6:3 ratio (French et al., 2000; Duckett et al., 1993; Marmer et al, 1984; Wood and Enser, 1997).
Okay, now let's move away from the statistics and get cooking :)
Tasting grass-fed wagyu
The easiest method to bring out the robust natural flavours of beef is to simply coat it with a mixture of oil, sea salt and black pepper. The oil allows the meat to absorb more heat, the salt brings the flavours together and the black pepper is Craig's preference for adding an extra taste. We tested this simple recipe out on a piece of grass-fed wagyu and the result was sublime! The well marbeled texture meant the wagyu was super tender and the mushroomy flavour inside was just irresistable.
1 Tablespoon sea salt
1 Teaspoon cracked black pepper
Prepare the barbecue on high heat. Coat the beef with oil and sprinkle all over with combined sea salt and pepper. Place beef on grill, sear for 2½ minutes, rotate it 90 degrees and sear for another 2½ minutes. Flip and repeat.
The best way to tell if your beef has reached your preferred 'done-ness', is to press on the pad of your palm. For example, touch your thumb to your middle finger and the pad on your palm represents medium-rare. The resistance on the pad is what your beef should feel like. Your index finger to your thumb will represent rare and your pinky to your thumb will represent well-done.
Testing the done-ness of your beef
If you're after something a little bit more special, then the next two variations are perfect for you. I personally can't wait to show these off at my next BBQ!
Szechwan pepper and coffee bean crusted beef
1 Cup ground Szechwan peppers
1 Cup coffee beans
1 Tablespoon sea salt
Allow prime rib to achieve room temperature. Crush all seasoning to a coarse grind and pat onto prime rib. Cook on a medium-hot grill.
Allow 1 piece of prosciutto and 1 sage leaf per eye fillet. Fold the prosciutto in half lengthwise, add sage then roll around the eye fillet tightly. Cook on a medium-hot grill.
We were also taught how to make a scrumptious 5 ingredient barbecue sauce from scratch (which went really well with the BBQ ribs!) as well as a wicked salad dressing.
BBQ ribs with 5 ingredient barbecue sauce
So we take our food outside to a beautifully set table. As we soak in the warm summer heat and begin this afternoon feast, Dan of Beer Snobs enlightens us on the art of appreciating beer. And as a non-beer drinker, I must admit, I think I've taken a liking to some of these boutique beers!
Outside MuMu Grill, Crows Nest
Dan's first tip was that beer must be poured into a glass - let it breathe and open-up. We then looked at the three C's... Beginning with Colour. Colour ranges from the light yellow to the darker end of the spectrum which can be a deep golden honey or a dark ruby red; then we have Clarity which can be filtered crystal clear or cloudy from wheat proteins and suspended yeast and lastly, Carbonation which is the reaction of the sugar and yeast.
I'm not going to spoil the fun by detailing each of the beers we tried (or the other recipes which Craig shared) because the Beef & Beer class was so enjoyable and educating, I think every man should get hands on and sign up to a weekend class and take his cooking (and beer tasting) to the next level!
Beer tasting with Dan of Beer Snobs
Beef & Beer Masterclass
Where: MuMu Grill, 70-76 Alexander St, Crows Nest NSW
When: Every 2nd and 3rd Saturday of each month, from 10am
Cost: $85 each
Bookings: Call (02) 9460 6877
More information: http://mumuland.wordpress.com/2010/01/15/beef-and-beer-masterclass-85/
Jennifer and her partner attended the Beef & Beer class as guests of MuMu Grill.