The following are some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about buying red meat.
If you have another question simply ask one of our friendly Butchers or send us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re not sure of the best cut for your needs simply ask one of our friendly Butchers. They are a wealth of knowledge and are asked for advice many times a day on how to cook a cut, what cut to buy and how much to buy.
Q: What is mince made from?
A: Beef and lamb mince is generally made from a wide range of cuts such as chuck, blade and intercostals muscles
It is illegal in Australia for retailers or the like to put offal or other ingredients into mince meat.
No preservative is added either – we just mince premium lean cuts every morning and afternoon.
Q: Why is mince sometimes brownish in colour inside the pack? Is this old meat in the centre?
A: No, it’s not old meat in the centre of the package, it is normal to find that the inner portions are brownish due to lack of contact with air. Once exposed to oxygen, the red colour or ‘bloom’ returns to the meat. Mince must always be handled with care; it’s best to use it as soon as possible after purchase. When shopping collect your mince (and other meats) last of all.
Q: Sometimes when I buy packaged meat it is red on the top slices but underneath the meat is partly brown. Is this normal?
A: It is normal to find a bright reddish colour on the outer portion of packaged meat, since this is the part of the meat that is in contact with oxygen. Oxygen from the air reacts with meat pigments to form the reddish colour. The pigment responsible for the red colour in meat is oxymyoghobin. Once exposed to oxygen, the red colour or ‘bloom’ returns to the meat.
Q: Which cuts of red meat are the best value?
A: We have excellent quality beef in Australia, high quality beef and lamb will cost little more than generic beef and lamb, but the eating experience is well worth the investment. To get the best value, offset your purchase of more pricey cuts with secondary cuts and use slow simmer techniques like braising to achieve the best results.
- Best slow simmer beef cuts: chuck, topside, round, blade, skirt, boneless shin (gravy beef) shin bone in (osso bucco), brisket, silverside, oxtail and beef cheek.
- Best slow simmer lamb cuts: frenched lamb shanks, diced lamb forequarter chops, neck chops, lamb topside, lamb shoulder, boned and rolled lamb shoulder.
If you’re hosting a barbecue and have a crowd to feed, the best value barbecue steaks are rump and round steak – they’ll taste great, are great value for money and easy to prepare. Note: *The steaks should not be too thin. For added value we will tenderise or marinade free of charge.*
Q: I’ve seen meat with an ‘export quality’ label in my supermarket, is it better quality than other meat?
A: Some people believe that Australia’s best meat goes to export. That is not strictly true; there is plenty of high quality meat available in the domestic market. In fact, there are a number of misconceptions surrounding the term ‘export quality’. If meat is being sold as export quality, it simply means that it has passed through an export-accredited processing facility, and it is no reflection of the quality of the meat.
We source direct from Premium Farmers and we only deal with the best so we get it before it goes to market.
Q: Is free range pasture fed beef better for you?
A: Beef from pasture-fed cattle has a lower fat content and has fewer calories than beef from grain-fed cattle. Grass-fed beef in some cases can have the same amount of fat as skinless chicken, wild deer, or elk.
Pasture fed beef has two to four times more omega-3 fatty acids than meat from grain- fed animals. Omega-3s are called “good fats” and are the most heart-friendly. People who have ample amounts of omega-3s in their diet are less likely to have high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat. Remarkably, they are 50 per cent less likely to suffer a heart attack. Omega-3s are essential for your brain as well. People with a diet rich in omega-3s are less likely to suffer from depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder (hyperactivity), or Alzheimer’s disease.
Another benefit of omega-3s is that they may reduce your risk of cancer. Meat from grass-fed animals is also higher in vitamin E. In humans, vitamin E is linked with a lower risk of heart disease and cancer. This potent antioxidant may also have anti-aging properties.
Q: What is ‘aged’ beef?
A: Ageing improves the tenderness and eating quality of meat. Dry-aged meat (the beef carcass is hung for a certain period) has distinct flavour characteristics (nutty, buttery flavours). The cooked texture of dry-aged beef retains a level of firmness while being very tender. Wet-ageing (vacuum packaged) meat produces a very tender product, with mild flavour development. The cooked texture of vacuum packaged steak is a little softer due to higher moisture content.
Q: Are sausages made with processed meat?
A: Simple answer is no. Our Sausages are made from fresh meat just like mince meat but we add seasoning.
When people think of sausages in this way they might be thinking of the processed sausages in Europe which include a range of fermented and preserved meats such as frankfurts, kranski or chorizo.
- Our Sausages are all made from fresh meat and fresh herbs on site.
Q: What is the difference between lamb fillet and lamb backstrap, and why are they so pricey?
A: Lamb fillet and lamb backstrap/eye of loin are the two sides of the loin chop. When preparing these cuts, the butcher removes each muscle from the whole loin, thus producing a boneless lamb cut about 20cm in length of which the eye of loin is wider in comparison to the fillet. Both cuts are very lean because they are completely removed of fat. These cuts are premium lamb cuts that are very sweet and tender, and are best barbecued, pan-fried or grilled.
Q: How do I calculate how much to buy to feed a specific number of people when I want to roast a large piece of beef for my Christmas/birthday parties?
A: For each serving allow about 300g uncooked boneless beef or 450g uncooked bone-in meat per person. These amounts take into account the fact you may need to trim a little fat from the meat and the fact that the meat will shrink in weight during the cooking time.
Frequently Asked Questions . . . Red meat cooking techniques
The following are some of the most frequently asked questions we received about preparing and cooking red meat.
Q: What’s the best way to thaw frozen steaks?
A: Meat is best thawed in the fridge. Steaks will take about 12 hours or overnight, depending on your fridge settings. Thawing meat at room temperature encourages bacterial growth as the outside will defrost before the centre (this is particularly important in summer). It’s not a good idea to defrost meat in water (hot or cold) – this causes bacterial growth as well as flavour and colour loss. If time’s short, use the microwave on defrost setting. Cook the steaks immediately. Pat the steaks dry with kitchen paper and rub a little oil into each steak before cooking.
Q: Can lamb shanks be cooked in a slow cooker?
A: Yes, they certainly can. A slow cooker is an ideal way to cook them…or you can simmer them in the oven. Taking the time to brown the lamb shanks before cooking (just as you do for casserole recipes) intensifies the flavour of your dish.
Q: I have a 4 burner hooded gas BBQ, can I use it to cook a beef roast?
A: Yes cooking a beef roast in a covered barbecue is an easy and fuss free, as well as a delicious way to cook a beef roast. Cooking a beef (or lamb) roast in a covered barbecue is just a little different to the way you would cook it in your oven. It stops your house heating up in summer also.
Q: If frozen meat has defrosted, can it be refrozen?
A: It is not recommended, unless the meat is cooked first.
The reasons for this are:
- There can be microbial risk as a result of refreezing; this is avoided if the meat is cooked before refreezing.
- The quality of the meat is affected. Freezing creates ice crystals within the structure of the meat (as meat contains a high percentage of water). These tiny ice crystals rupture the fibre of the meat, which causes the meat to lose a little of this water when defrosted. If repeated freezing occurs, the meat will be very dry.
Q: What temperature should beef topside be roasted at?
A: A beef topside roast should be cooked at 160ºC for 25-30 mins per 500g for a medium result.
- Our tip – take the meat from the fridge about 15-20 minutes before cooking, this way your roast will cook more evenly.
- Different cuts require different cooking times per fixed weight. Find suggested times on the ‘How to Roast section’ listed below. For ease and accuracy use a meat thermometer.
Q: What’s the best way to barbecue meat that’s been marinated?
A: Take the meat from the marinade and lightly pat it with paper towel before barbecuing. This helps the meat brown well. Don’t pour marinade over the meat while it’s cooking, this makes the meat stew and causes flare-ups. To keep meat moist you can brush the meat with a little of the marinade as it cooks. Don’t brush it on the meat during the last minutes of cooking time.
Q: I never really have any success when I cook a stir-fry. The meat always turns out grey and tough, what am I doing wrong?
A: Maintaining the heat of the wok is vital to a tender result when cooking a stir-fry. Overcrowding the wok with too much meat at once will cause it to lose heat and your meat will start to stew and turn grey and tough. To avoid this, meat must be cooked in the small batches.
- Once you return the meat to the wok with the veggies and sauces take care that it does not boil in the liquid or it will toughen. Stir-fry only to combine and warm through.
Q: Do I need to wash meat before I cook it?
A: There is no need to wash fresh meat. If meat has been frozen, it’s a good idea to pat the meat dry with absorbent paper before you cook it to remove any moisture. This avoids meat splattering as it cooks and helps it brown well.
Q: I love lamb loin chops, any tips for cooking them?
A: Lamb loin chops are prized for their eyepiece of sweet tender meat. The best ones are thick and juicy.
- Loin chops, just like their beef counterpart T-bone steak, come from the upper mid section of the carcase and so too are very tender and subsequently suitable for quick, dry heat cooking such as barbecuing and pan frying. Lamb loin chops consist of the loin and fillet, however unlike T-bone steak; they are generally sold with the ‘tail’ still intact. So, when preparing loin chops for cooking, curl and secure the ‘tail’ with toothpicks to keep them uniform in shape, or, alternatively cut off the tail as this can make presentation more appealing.
Q: I would like to know how to make a good beef stock. I’ve heard it’s a time consuming process. Are there any shortcuts?
A: It is true stock does take a little time to make, but time is its major ingredient. You can go about other things as your stock simmers away and the richness from the meat and bones slowly yield their flavours.
Making your own stock isn’t difficult, a few easy steps to get it started and the jobs just about done. You will be surprised at how easy to make, and how deliciously good homemade stock can be. We think you’ll agree it’s worth the time!
Follow these simple instructions from the main meal website: Make your own beef stock
Q: Do I really need a meat thermometer when I cook a roast?
A: There are many variables involved when roasting meat and judging if it’s ready or not. Variables include size, shape and thickness of the meat. There are two simple ways to determine how long a roast should cook, and if it’s ready.
You can estimate using weight and timing charts or use the “Time to roast” app on your smart phone or test for doneness with tongs. Gently prod or squeeze the roast – rare is very soft, medium rare is soft, medium is springy but soft, medium well is firm and well done is very firm.
Alternatively, you can use internal temperature as measure of doneness and for this you’ll need a meat thermometer. This option is fool proof and you will get your roast right every time.