Is there anything more beautiful THAN a juicy, tender steak straight from the grill?
High-quality steaks are more popular than ever. No sooner has a steak house opened, than it is booked out for weeks. However, besides the quality of the meat, the right preparation method is also essential for perfect enjoyment. The word steak originates from the Old Norse “STEIK”, which basically means roast. Wagyu or Charolais, Aberdeen Angus, Galloway or Chianina – it’s all a matter of taste and budget. Wagyu beef – nothing quite tops off the flavour than this exclusive meat: white shiny fat, delicate marbling and a perfect fat-to-meat ratio.
The A-Z of BBQ
The classic steak types come from the back section of the cow, between the shoulder and leg. Meat from this back section is also known as roast beef or rump steak. Roast beef also includes the fillet (derived from French: fillet means strip), the finest piece of beef. The T-bone steak and porterhouse steak are both cut from the fillet section. However, tasty steaks can also be cut from the neck, shoulder and “elongated back”. Each cut has its own characteristics and flavour, depending on the muscle tissue and amount of fat (fat layer or “marbled”).
GOOD MEAT SHOULD BE MATURED FOR THREE WEEKS AND EACH SLICE SHOULD BE AT LEAST FOUR CENTIMETRES THICK.
Whether rib eye or flank steak, entrecote, T-bone or a lean sirloin – the texture is important. The marbling of the meat, which is visible as thin lines of fat, provides the flavour when the meat softens over the flames, making it juicy and aromatic. The more evenly marbled the meat, the better the aroma. However, breed, rearing and feeding also play a decisive role in the taste experience.
We begin our journey at the fridge where the meat must be stored because this is where the fewest bacteria are found. If the meat is to be stored for slightly longer, frozen and vacuum-packed beef can be stored for up to three months without affecting the quality. In order to prevent contact with oxygen and to prevent freezer burn, the meat must be vacuum packed and stored in the freezer. The best way to gently defrost meat is overnight in the fridge – never at room temperature because this can cause bacteria to form in the meat juice that escapes.
The meat should be at a temperature of 22–23 degrees when preparing it, which means it should be removed from the fridge around two hours in advance. The meat should therefore be at room temperature because no cooking processes (denaturation processes) have started yet and it is not long until the myosin protein begins denaturing in the meat.
Ideally, the steak should be salted prior to grilling. Timing is crucial here. A saline solution forms on the surface of the meat. Many experts salt their meat up to 12 hours before cooking it. This allows the mildly salty water to flow back into the steak. Inside the meat, the saline water encourages further denaturation and makes the steak extremely juicy and tender. This effect begins to take place two hours beforehand. Any less than this, such as 20 minutes, will damage the steak, making it tough and dry. Another rule is to dab the steak, otherwise it boils instead of roasting. A crispy crust forms as a result of a dry steak.
Cooking levels for meat:
Cooking level I: raw; French: bleu. Consistency: Almost raw consistency, with just a slightly roasted surface, a thin, brown crust, inside it is virtually raw and still bloody.
Cooking level II: rare; French: saignant. Consistency: crispy, brown crust, bloody core.
Cooking level III: medium rare; French: anglais or à point. Consistency: dark brown crust, inside evenly pink. The core of the meat is red.
Cooking level IV: medium / medium well; French: demi-anglais. Consistency: still slightly pink inside.
Cooking level V: well done; French: bien cuit. Consistency: no longer pink, fully roasted.
When cooked on direct heat, a steak should sit on the grill for a maximum of four minutes on each side. If dripping fat causes flames, you should continue to grill the steaks over indirect heat until the fire subsides, otherwise the surface of the meat will burn. Use a meat thermometer to measure the temperature inside the meat and check how well cooked the steak is. Rare: 48–52°C, medium rare: 52–55°C, medium: 56–58°C, well done: 65–68°C.
The Maillard reaction occurs in the meat above 140°C.
This reaction results in the browning and crispiness, producing the perfect roast. The initial charring process begins at 180°C, whereby carcinogenic acrylamide starts to form. After searing the steak, it should ideally be cooked at a temperature of 130 to 150°C in the indirect zone. Allow the steak to rest briefly, then enjoy it, otherwise the meat juice will not be evenly distributed. The core temperature permeates the meat from the outside in.
Grilling vegetables is a challenge. However, when the vegetables are handled correctly, you can create incredibly diverse dishes. Basically, there are two different ways to grill vegetables. When they are sliced and placed on the grill, the grilling process accounts for most of the flavour. Alternatively, the vegetables can be grilled whole, in which case the outer layer acts as a protective shell for the core with its high liquid content. Take leek or fennel, for example. The outer leaves char completely, and then the soft inner core is removed and can be mixed with yoghurt. This often results in a wonderful texture.
THERE ARE A HUGE VARIETY OF FOODS FOR VEGETARIAN BARBECUES
ranging from vegetables to halloumi cheese, which can all be cooked on the barbecue. Meat-free grilling is not boring at all – in fact, it is balanced and tasty. Aubergine rolls with ricotta and feta filling, cheese or tofu – fresh ingredients are a must. To prevent the vegetables from drying out quickly, all the ingredients to be flame grilled are first coated with oil. Besides barbecued vegetables, other very popular delights include veggie burgers, grilled potatoes and halloumi cheese. Alternatives include corn on the cob, peppers, lettuce hearts, pea pods, beans, mushrooms and asparagus. Barbecued vegetables are rich in fibre and contain lots of vitamins. Most vegetable varieties are suitable as a vegetarian main course and also as side dishes for meat eaters.
TO ACHIEVE AN INTENSE TASTE EXPERIENCE,
leave the vegetables, tofu or cheese to rest for a couple of hours first in a marinade or herb mixture. Salting is at the top of the to-do list because vegetables contain a lot of water, which is removed by salt and heat. The final and exotic touch is achieved by combining the vegetables with berries, apricots, pineapple or plums. Fruit, asparagus, peppers and hard cheese as well as bread and blanched or steamed vegetables are ideally prepared using a direct grilling method. Large pieces, such as potatoes, cook wonderfully through indirect grilling. Whether potatoes, onions, fennel, kohlrabi, red cabbage or beetroot: vegetarian grilling pleasure knows no boundaries. Even hardcore meat lovers will be won over by Sicilian spinach calzone, potato slices with fresh rosemary, grilled vegetables with goat cheese toast or creamy cheese polenta. In Southern countries, peppers, goat cheese, aubergine and sweet potato are among the most popular foods for the barbecue.
IT DOESN’T ALWAYS HAVE TO BE MEAT:
ENJOY THE FREEDOM OF BARBECUED VEGETARIAN FOOD.
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