There is more to cooking meat than grilling it, frying it, sticking it on the barbecue for ten minutes, and slapping it on a plate.
If you want to enjoy the subtlety of flavour and texture you can entice from a quality cut of meat with native Australian ingredients, you need to understand how to cook your meat.
In this article, I will help you understand how to cook meat just like fine dining restaurants do, just like Hunter and Barrel can do for you.
Introduction: The Art of Cooking Meat to Perfection
The perfectly cooked meat is different for each person. The range of cooking can span from blue, where you cook or sear a steak at a high temperature for twenty seconds each side, leaving the middle practically raw, through to well-done, which is thoroughly cooked through, leaving no pink meat at all.
Debate continues over what the perfect cooking time for meat exists. I don’t mind how you cook your meat, each to their own. All I worry about is that you cook it to perfection and enjoy your meat.
The key to enjoying your meat is how you cook it and your technique. There are many ways to cook meat- roasting, grilling, and slow-cooking.
I will talk about the best techniques for different cuts of meat so you can have the tastiest steak, pork, and chicken ever.
The Perfect Steak for the Modern-Day Hunter
The perfect steak for me is a hearty New Yorker. It is a big cut of meat, but it is perfection on a fork when done right.
I’m a medium to medium rare kind of guy. This leaves me with a juicy steak that is still easy to cut and a delight to chew.
I’m a simple man at heart. A medium-well New Yorker, with some chips on the side and a good IPA, and I am so happy.
Of course, that is the end product. The preparation to get to the plate, with locally sourced produce, well timed and cooked to perfection, and allowed to rest for a few minutes before being served, adds up to a great experience.
It’s what my chefs do in the background, the hard work, the masters of their craft, which makes eating at Hunter and Barrel such a joy.
Why Understanding Cooking Techniques Is Essential for Meat Lovers
If you’re really into your meat, love to roast, and enjoy your barbecues in summer, then understanding cooking techniques is essential to elevate your culinary experience. How to prepare your meat, cook your meat, to create experiences of taste and texture are all part of the ultimate meat cooking process.
I want you to understand how to marinate and spice your food, how to balance sweet and sour, spice and heat, so you can serve up meat that makes your friends come back for seconds.
Educating yourself on different techniques can also empower you to experiment and find more joy in your meat-eating life. I know when I learn a new way to spice up a roast, I feel great; I’ve learned something new and tasty.
Mastering cooking techniques not only enhances the quality and safety of meat dishes but also opens up a world of gastronomic possibilities for enthusiasts.
The Basics: Common Meat Cooking Techniques
Let’s start small. You need to start with the basics and then build upon these. It would be a waste of a good marinade if you cook the side of meat wrong.
The basics I’m going to talk about include grilling, searing, smoking and rotisserie techniques. I’ll talk about meat temperatures, which is vital information to understand, especially for the health of anyone who dines with you.
You start from here, and then you can experiment with different taste sensations.
Grilling, Searing, Sous-Vide, Braising, Smoking, Rotisserie –
- Grilling involves cooking meat directly over an open flame, typically on a grill grate – think your backyard barbecue.. It imparts a smoky, charred flavour, which can differ depending on the type of fuel used. You can get some attractive grill marks while allowing fat to drip away, making it a healthier option. Grilling works best for thin cuts like steaks, chops, and skewered meats.
- Searing is a high-heat method that quickly browns the surface of the meat in a hot pan or, again, on a grill, locking in juices and creating a flavorful crust. It’s often used with other cooking techniques like roasting or sous-vide.
- Sous-vide is a precise method where meat is vacuum-sealed and cooked at a controlled low temperature in a water bath. This ensures even cooking and extreme tenderness, preserving the meat’s natural flavours. Think of a slow-cooked beef brisket that melts in your mouth.
- Braising involves slow-cooking meat in a flavorful liquid, like broth or wine, at low heat. It’s ideal for tougher cuts, breaking down collagen and yielding tender, flavorful results. I love braising a hefty lamb shoulder.
- Smoking infuses the meat with a smoky flavour by slow-cooking it in a smoker, usually over wood chips or charcoal. It’s popular for ribs, brisket, and poultry, and different types of wood chips can produce a range of smokey flavours.
- Rotisserie cooking involves rotating meat on a spit over an open flame or heat source, ensuring even cooking and a crispy, flavorful exterior. The classic meat is chicken or a good spit-roasted lamb over a fire.
Each technique offers a unique approach to cooking meat, allowing for a wide range of flavours and textures, catering to various preferences and culinary styles.
Understanding Meat Temperatures & Cooking Levels
Understanding meat temperatures and cooking levels is crucial for achieving the desired doneness in various cuts of meat.
- Rare: Meat is cooked to an internal temperature of 50°C. It’s characterised by a cool, red centre and is exceptionally juicy.
- Medium Rare: Cooked to 60°C, it boasts a warm, red centre with a slightly firmer texture, offering a balance of tenderness and flavour.
- Medium: At 65°C, the meat turns pink throughout, with a slight hint of pink in the centre. It’s a popular choice for many steak lovers.
- Medium Well: Cooked to 70°C, this level results in a slightly pink centre with significantly reduced juices and increased firmness.
- Well Done: At 70°C and above, meat is thoroughly cooked, with no pinkness. It tends to be drier and less tender.
Each temperature range provides a unique eating experience, allowing individuals to tailor their meat to their preference, from the succulent tenderness of rare to the well-cooked consistency of well-done.
How We Elevate These Techniques
Our chefs have years of experience learning the basics, so it almost becomes second nature. When they hear a call for a medium-well steak, they can almost cook it by feel. I say almost because you want it to be precise, so they do check the temperature and time, just to be sure.
The Role of Marinades and Seasonings
Marinades and seasonings add depth and flavour to your meats. They can lift a chop beyond something you whack on the grill for five minutes.
Marinating involves soaking the meat in a flavourful liquid, tenderising your meat and infusing it with a medley of taste sensations. Marinating is perfect for meats that you grill.
Seasoning your meat, which can be through sprinkling or rubbing into the food, can create an explosion of taste and aroma. Seasoning your meat is perfect for sauteing or frying.
The Importance of High-Quality Ingredients
The better the quality of your ingredients, the better your meal is going to be. Fresh steak and poultry, the finest locally sourced vegetables.
When you’re eating at Hunter and Barrel, you’re not just having steak and vegetables. You enjoy the finest cut of beef or the freshest of seafood, perhaps our signature slow-cooked meat boards, complemented by fresh produce – a crispy side salad or hearty hand-cut chips.
We want you to experience your meal, not just ‘have a feed’.
Native Australian Ingredients
Native Australian ingredients are unique in our world. They have remarkable flavours that burst in your mouth but also hold significant cultural influence over what is prepared in my restaurants.
The bite of pepper berries or the zing of native finger limes are all waiting for you in our extensive menu. It is the final exclamation point for a perfect dish for you.
Conclusion: What to Order at Hunter & Barrel –
Visiting my Hunter and Barrel restaurants is an experience. You need to have a beautifully cooked piece of meat, paired with the right side and beverage. We don’t want you to just eat with us, we want you to enjoy the overall feel of the open fire, the rustic setting, hear the sizzle of meat from the kitchen, and the warmth of good food and great company.
It’s how I enjoy my meals, and it’s how you should, too.
Cook your snapper over 125 degrees C for soft and flaky flesh.
In winter, simple crispy greens and potatoes can keep you warm and happy with this dish. In summer, a crisp garden salad with a wedge of lemon will do. Simple tastes to compliment the wonderful piece of fish are my go-to.
Keeping the crisp theme, a fresh glass of white, such as our 2022 Bella Riva Pinot Grigio, would be perfect.
I’m a Medium to Medium Well kind of guy. I like a little pink flesh in my steak, so I’m cooking mine at 65 – 70 degrees C.
I like some vegetables with my steak – carrots and beans, and I sometimes like thick-cut chips or truffle potatoes.
To wash this delicious meal down, a Little Creatures Hazy IPA or a Balter XPA, a beer with a hoppy body to match the richness of the meat.
Chicken Thigh Skewer
Meat skewers are one of my favourite meals at Hunter and Barrel. It’s how we cook over an open fire, and it’s how they’re slow-cooked in my restaurant.
Match with a mixed-leaf salad or our delicious crispy chips for a hearty meal.
You can select a fine whiskey to sit with you while you eat or a glass of 2022 Shaw and Smith Sav Blanc to tickle the taste buds.