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Scotch Beef: Time for Some Imagination

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Scotch Beef: Time for Some Imagination

October 21
20:07 2013
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In Scotland, we mince more of the useable meat from a carcass and use less of the forequarter for quick cooking than our European counterparts. In France, for example, 75% – 80% of the forequarter meat is used for quick cooking but in the UK, traditionally, it is the opposite; 80% is used for slow cooking. Forequarter cuts are great for traditional stews and casseroles, and with a bit of imagination and skilful use of butchers’ knives they can be used for grilling and pan- or stir-frying. With this in mind, Quality Meat Scotland has been encouraging chefs to liven up their menus while keeping down the cost of the raw materials. The most effective way to do this is to stay true to Scotch but to choose more meat from the forequarter and utilise the skill of a good butcher to ensure it can be cooked quickly. Every single piece of a Scotch PGI carcase comes through the fully integrated assurance chain and has been reared with consistent care and attention. Why, then, should there be such difference in the cost of different cuts? A prime example is the fillet, which represents less than 1% of the carcase by weight but can return up to 15% of the value. This imbalance drives the price of hindquarter cuts upwards and devalues some excellent cuts of meat from the forequarter. All consumers rate consistent tenderness as one of the most important factors when selecting meat. History confirms that many breeds of European cattle are derived from oxen and were used as beasts of burden. Essentially, therefore, the eating quality is not as good as Scotch Beef, and so our continental counterparts use seam butchery to separate individual muscles from the connective tissue and sinews that make it tough and inconsistent. Seaming provides pieces of meat which cook uniformly and will be consistently tender, while enabling the butcher to control the level of fat on the final product. Here are some less well-known cuts that are now being used more often in restaurants and can easily be adapted for the home: Bavette: The soft belly part of the muscles, where the flank joins onto the hind leg. Often used for stewing but when handled properly it can be quick-grilled or fried and should be served rare. Marinating overnight also helps. In France it is the classic minute steak and is small, thin and often scored. Featherblade/ blade: Has a gelatinous centre seam and can be marinated and roasted, or cut very thinly and fried. One innovative chef adds slivers of blade steak to Thai broth immediately before it leaves the kitchen. By the time the dish is served to the customer, it is cooked to perfection. Short Ribs: Hugely popular in America, beef short ribs are larger, meatier and more tender and than spare ribs, their pork counterparts. A full slab of short ribs is typically made up of three to four ribs and is a much cheaper alternative to traditional long ribs which are normally used for rib roasting. Short ribs are best braised slowly, like pot au feu, but are equally delicious marinated and quickly grilled or fried, carved into strips and served on a platter to share. Thick Skirt (French ‘Onglet’): Technically a type of offal because of its proximity to the internal organs, the Onglet is attached to the spinal column and provides a very distinctive flavour. Best grilled or pan-fried quickly and served rare. Visit www.qmscotland.co.uk for information and recipe ideas using different cuts of beef. The three rules of thrift: Choose more meat from the forequarter, utilise the skill of a good butcher to ensure it can be cooked quickly, and stay true to Scotch. There’s more to life than sirloin, rib eye and fillet!

www.qmscotland.co.uk

This article has been edited from its original version. For the complete feature, please see Catering in Scotland magazine February/March 2009.

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Quality Meat Scotland’s Margaret Stewart urges us to try a few different cuts of Scotch Beef…

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