Meat Part 4 – What Makes Meat Lean and Tender?

Note: This is a loose transcription of the video, ‘Meat Part 4 – What Makes Meat Lean and Tender?’

Bex: Andrew, I’ve learned a lot about meat from you, in my time shopping here. The one thing, that you have talked about is how aging makes the meat very tender, especially grass fed meat; which tends to be tough.

Andrew: Yes it can be a little tougher…

Bex: Tell me more about the aging process. Is it long or short? Do all butchers do that?

What makes meat lean and tender?

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Andrew: Not all butchers do that. All butchers used to do that. In certain western countries, the health and safety departments have tried to stop aging, which has led to a lot of consumption of tough meat, because aging is very important to allow all the fibres in the meat just to relax and all the microbes to go to work and  tenderise the meat. The reason why we age our meat here, is because grass-fed lacks a little bit of a marbling that you will get from grain-fed meat, so in its natural state it is a little a bit tougher than its grain-fed equivalent, so in order to combat that here in Brookvale meats, we buy yearling grade meat, which is young, therefore tender and we also just hang it for 7 to 10 days. So we cut the body up, and we hang the ‘primals’ which are all the T-bones, and the Sirloins, and the Yorks and the Rumps  – we hang those for 7 to 10 days. Just so nature can go to work on it, just tenderise it a little bit.

What makes meat lean and tender?
Andrew explains to Bex what makes meat lean and tender

Now, the aging process can go on for months and months, if you got the correct microbial environment. We haven’t invested in the thousands and thousands of dollars you would need for special cool rooms to age your meat for three months. That’s NOT what we do here. We are aging our meat specifically to try and tenderise it a little bit, so grass-fed meat which is inherently tougher than grain-fed can be as soft and tender as the grain-fed equivalent, if you buy it from here.

Bex: That would explain a lot about why grass-fed meat would be better than grain-fed meat for people who are concerned about their health and weight loss and fat consumption, because, what you’re saying is that the grass-fed meat is tougher because it has less fat?

Andrew: It’s only slightly tougher. Because it has less fat in it. It’s less marbling, which is that grainy texture running through the meat of the steak, which chefs in restaurants prize.

But the health benefits of grass-fed meat is well-documented, well, well-documented. Search the internet. You’ll immediately see there are many benefits of grass-fed over grain-fed. The benefits to your heart, your brain, some of the essential acids that your body needs to operate healthily…much,much higher levels in grass-fed meat. So, why would you want to eat grain-fed meat? Why?

Bex: Exactly!

Andrew: Why bother, when it’s (grass-fed) healthier to eat. Grass-fed, it is a misconception that it’s more expensive. I mean if you go the cheapest butcher in town, we (Brookvale Meats) will be a tiny bit more expensive. But we’re talking about pennies, cents. We’re not talking about large differences in prices, only very little fractions. Yeah, the animals have done lots of wandering around the paddock, and had a full life. If that’s not worth paying an extra 3 or 4 percent for, then I don’t know what is.

Bex: I couldn’t have said it better.

Andrew (in reference to their cuts in a fridge): Okay, here at Brookvale Meats, we buy in whole carcasses direct from farms and then we bring them in and we break them down. Boris here has worked with us for nearly 40 years so he knows a few things about breaking down animal carcasses. Now, one of Boris’ jobs is to break down the whole body into what are called the ‘primals’ and the primals are different, aren’t they Boris? So what do you have there?

Borris: Sirloin Steaks.

Andrew: Sirloin Steaks, also know as a New York cut. Porterhouse?

Borris: Same thing. It’s all the same.

Andrew: So the T-bone, on one end has the Porterhouse going through it and sometimes the T-bone has the eye fillet on the other end.  In here (pointing to the fridge), the carcasses are de-boned, the primals are hung up to age  for about a week to 10 days trying to tenderise them. That’s how it’s done!

Bex: Just to conclude, is there anything else that you would recommend that consumers ask a butcher, when they’re looking for a butcher with good quality meat.

Andrew: I think it’s not a question of asking the butcher necessarily,  it’s just a question of getting to know your butcher. Whether it’s Brookvale Meats or any other reputable butchers, there are plenty of decent butchers on the Northern Beaches (and the world!). It’s a question of getting to know your butchers, so that you can find out: where it’s coming from, what it’s been eating, what are you putting on the table, recommendations, what’s good this week?  My daughter can’t eat fats, so what cuts are better? My son is allergic is to nitrates, have you got any ham or bacon that hasn’t got nitrates? It is just the question of getting to know your butcher, to allow your butcher to do what he wants to do, just help you buy what you need.

Bex: Fantastic.

Andrew: Just develop a relationship with your butcher, wherever it is.

Bex: Fantastic.

Bex: Well, thank you so much for taking the time today to explain that to us…

Andrew: Thank you so much for giving the opportunity to.

Bex: …so that we can make better choices about food.

 

Other videos in this series:

Meat Part 1 – You CAN Afford Grass Fed Meat!
Meat Part 2 – Do You Know Where Your Meat Comes From?
Meat Part 3 – What is Free Range, Grass Fed, Organic Meat?

Meat Part 3 – What is Free Range, Grass Fed, Organic Meat?

What is Free Range, Grass Fed, Organic Meat?

Note: This is a loose transcription of the video, ‘Meat Part 3 – What is Free Range, Grass Fed, Organic Meat?’

Bex: So, you’re painting a very detailed picture for us here – the two ways we can have our animals treated, produced and sold before they come to our table. And so for the consumer who is looking for a butcher they want to buy from and they’re seeing all these labels, is there actually any difference between grass-fed and pasture-fed?

Andrew: No, it’s essentially the same thing.

Bex: And free-range vs. free roaming? Is it just terminology?

What is Free Range, Grass Fed, Organic Meat?

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Andrew: Depends on the type of meat. Free range to me, it means for the sheep it’s just out in the bush and for a cow it’s in the paddock eating grass. For a chicken, it means that it has access to the outdoors; it can go outdoors if it wishes to. Although true free-range, a very true free-range poultry farm, is where the chickens are out all the time. So, free-range and free-roaming just have a little bit different definition, depending on where they are from and also what type of meat. For example, pork has a strict definition of free-range now, and that’s a little bit restrictive on the grower, because growers who were previously accredited as free-range are now struggling to gain free-range accreditation. I feel sorry for them because their pigs are bred and grown in a very animal-friendly way; it’s just that they’re not strictly known as free-range. Even RSPCA accredited piggeries in Australia are not technically free-range, which is absurd because the RSPCA think very highly of those piggeries, and yet for some strange reason the accreditation board don’t allow it. So free-range, free-roaming has to be interpreted in a little bit of that context, and also depends on which type of meat.

Bex: And speaking of accreditation, what about meat that is labelled organic, how does that differ at all from the other meats?

Learn the importance of meat labels such as pasture fed
Learn the importance of meat labels such as pasture fed

Andrew: Organic is a different category. We don’t promote organic meat here necessarily as it would involve too much segregation of meats here. I prefer just free-range. Free-range to me is natural and organic, while some grain-fed (animals) might be fed with organic grain and called organic. I think some of these small boutique organic growers are fantastic, but I am not too sure about the validity of the mass-procured organic brands.

Bex: So when it comes to meat, grass-fed is a better first indicator than organic.

Andrew: For me, personally, it is. You can’t get better than a natural diet (for the animals). Simple as that.

Bex: Thank you. And is there an exception to the rule? Because I know for example you hear about Wagyu beef, and Wagyu beef is known as grain-fed cow. Tell us more about Wagyu.

Andrew: Wagyu is the exception to the rule, if you’re going to sell Wagyu then you should sell it for the glory of the meat. The meat comes from the Kobi breed. It is known to be a breed of cattle which is able to send the fat from the surface of the skin to get into the muscle, there by creating this marbling effect. So Wagyu is different. Our Wagyu spends a year a part in the field and then spends a year in the feedlot eating grain, but the grain has no antibiotics in it and it’s also just vegetable grain. Yeah, that’s the only grain-fed meat we sell here.

 

Other videos in this series:

Meat Part 1 – You CAN Afford Grass Fed Meat!
Meat Part 2 – Do You Know Where Your Meat Comes From?
Meat Part 4 – What makes meat lean and tender?

Meat Part 2 – Do You Know Where Your Meat Comes From?

Do You Know Where Your Meat Comes From?

Note: This is a loose transcription of the video, ‘Meat Part 2 – Do you know where your meat comes from?’

Bex: So when we’re talking about the quality of meat, you were mentioning to me before the concept of provenance. What does that mean?

Andrew: Provenance is a very very important concept here. Provenance, it just basically means, where things come from.

Do you know where your meat comes from?

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Andrew: And for me that means, not just where the animals come from, but what they have been eating, and who’s been looking after, and how did they get here and how did we treat the animal once it’s here? So, for us provenance means trying to source locally and trying to support your local small produce. Also, trying to work out which are the farms which are producing decent, grass-fed meat in a trustworthy fashion. Very important again to know the people that are growing your meat.

So because of the importance of sourcing locally and sourcing from decent land, we try to source most of our beef and lamb, and some of our pork, from Cowra, NSW, which is a location that is abundant in water (Southern Highlands of NSW). I think it is in the confluence of two rivers. Which means, it’s got some of the best pasture grazing land in Australia and in turn means, that the cattle and sheep grazing upon that land are gonna be eating good food. So, if they’re eating good food then by sheer definition, if you’re eating them then you’re eating good quality beef, good quality lamb made from local producers.

Pasture fed meat vs factory farmed meat

Andrew: So the idea of provenance, it encompasses not just where it comes from, who’s growing it, but also the the other tenant of provenance is how’s the animal being look after? Has it been let loose, to roam freely in pasture? And it must not have been fed with grains, that are often laced with antibiotics. For us, that’s a no-no. We just want a naturally-grown animal. Now, the reason why there’s been such a use of antibiotics, in the recent times is that the market wants lean meat, and  antibiotics provide quick growth of the meat. The cow is growing quickly, growing muscles because it’s overloading on hormones and it’s making the meat that the supermarket or the mass producer wants. It wants a lean, quickly-grown animal which you get if you feed the animal antibiotics and/or growth hormones.

Obviously, it’s going to grow very quickly and that’s good for the grower, it means they’re going to get faster stock returns. But for us, no, these hormones are insidious. They often go in from a little patch on the hair, so they are drip-fed hormones. It’s 24-7 in the animal or in the feeds, but either way it’s not something which we support or promote or wish to be doing. We just want our customers to eat natural meat.

 

Do you know where your meat comes from?

 

Meat Part 1 – You CAN Afford Grass Fed Meat!

You Can Afford Grass Fed Meat

Note: This is a loose transcription of the video, ‘Meat Part 1 – You CAN Afford Grass Fed Meat!’

Bex:
Hi, we are here with Andrew Lupton at Brookvale meats in Sydney, where we have been buying our meat for quite some time and recommending to everyone we can. The main reason that we buy and we recommend the meat here, is that it is grass-fed, sourced from local farms, antibiotic and hormone-free. The meat is coming from animals that are raised well. Animals that are healthy, and that’s going to make us healthy. However, Andrew, lots of people are concerned that they can’t afford grass-fed, free-range meat. What would you say to customers about this concern?

You CAN Afford Grass Fed Meat!

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Andrew: I’d recommend they all come down here and have a look at the prices!

Bex: That will do it!!

Andrew: As simple as that.

Brookvale Meats - Free Range Grass Fed Meat

Andrew:
They’ll find the difference here. One lady customer was told by her husband not to shop here, because we’re very expensive. So, she went out and compared like for like in one of our well-known supermarkets around the corner, and we were 50 percent cheaper. So, let’s dismiss that myth, there’s no penalty for buying grass-fed meat. No, on the contrary, you can buy grass-fed rump meat, a whole grass-fed rump for $12/kg. That’s cheap meat. So, no it’s not more expensive and you don’t have to pay that.

Bex:
Do you think a lot of that might come  from the fact that people are used to only a few popular cuts of meat, and that those cuts might be the most expensive cuts?

Andrew:
It certainly could be possible, that could be a reason. I think perhaps more likely is that people are used to markets, where they buy similar meat, free-range meat from boutique producers, who because of the size of their operations, they have to charge a lot  more than we do (Brookvale Meats), and so here comes the perception, from perhaps buying free-range meat from markets and boutique suppliers, that it’s very expensive. It’s entirely a bit more expensive but it’s a very, very small price to pay at this point.

Bex:
Absolutely, and another thing that  might be able to help consumers in budgeting their meat purchases, is buying in bulk. How does that work and what are the best cuts for bulk purchase?

Andrew:
Well, I suppose the best cut for a bulk purchase, is to buy a whole cow! Indeed, it’s something that we do. We cut it up for them and they come in their ute (pick-up truck), and they take it away. So, people do buy whole pigs, they buy whole lambs, they do buy half cows. So, there are some people out there that buy in bulk.

Bex: Smaller families?

Andrew:
Smaller families, smaller freezers. Buying in bulk it is important but it’s not necessary, you just need to buy the cheaper cuts. If you want to reduce the expenses, then talk to your butcher. What do I do with a beef blade, how can I cut it? How can I cook it?

Bex: Exactly.

Andrew:
These are the things that you should be asking the butcher to try to reduce  the weekly spend. A lot of that is on our website, there’s a whole section of cheaper cuts and loads of recipes involved within the website on cheaper cuts. To me, it’s not necessary to fill your deep freezer to save a few bucks.

Bex: So, can you list off a few of these cheaper, less popular, lesser known cuts that you recommend?

Andrew:
Gosh, where to start? Okay, pigs trotters! They cost next to nothing. We give them away! They’re not for the faint-hearted indeed. You have to like your dose of fat, but it’s extremely cheap. The cheaper cuts would be anything that is a little bit tougher to cook that doesn’t cook quickly. Lamb shanks, lamb neck… lamb neck makes the best stew, it has the most flavour and when you cook it right it is a tender meat. I love it! I prefer it to loin chops which are three times the price. On beef, we’re talking about Osso Bucco, we’re talking about the shoulder, and the leg; these are the cheaper cuts. They do indeed involve longer cooking periods , most of the time, although we can tenderise it for you. We can get you a shoulder or leg and cut it nice and thin, bash it and tenderise it, and still be treated like a steak.

Bex:
Beautiful, and as you mentioned you have a wonderful page. A couple of pages on the website talking about cheaper cuts. Where they are all listed out with pictures and everything.

Andrew: There’s a few recipes too, I try to encourage people…

Bex:
Great recipes, and your website is, www.brookvalemeats.com.au. Have a look there and learn about the cheaper cuts, and realise that you’re going to get a lot of bang for your buck and you’re not going to have to spend more than you want to. It’s really about choosing quality food. Thank you, Andrew.

Andrew: Thanks for your time!

 

Do you cook with cheaper cuts of meat? What are your favourites?