Recently, we were invited to partake in a special “Meatology” training session put on by the folks at The Meat Co. Welcoming, as we do, any expert tutelage when it comes to food, we jumped at the chance to indulge. Focusing on their “pasture to plate” mentality as an entrée into the love of beef that permeates their company culture, and the myriad ways that it manifests itself long before beef ever meets grill, we were walked through various facets of their menu and the expertise by which they prepare it. From sourcing, aging, grain, and cuts, no part of the art was spared.
Those of you who have read our previous reviews on The Meat Co, know that we here at bazaar are fans; but, for those of you who have not, here is a quick rundown on who they are: established in 2000 by two South African entrepreneurs, The Meat Co. is now a global restaurant brand whose aim is to meld a relaxed steakhouse feel with the more sophisticated specialization of premier beef. For us here in Kuwait, that means a little slice of South African grilling, very close to home. From the wait staff and ambiance, to the occasional drum circle and song in celebration of a birthday, the experience is not to be missed.
Enough of all that—let’s talk beef! More specifically, let’s talk about those of us who LOVE steak. People who care enough about beef that even basic, yet too-often overlooked preparation techniques like getting the meat to room temperature before cooking, or waiting to carve, so that the juices might lock in after, to the more advanced pan-sear preamble to an oven broil, are considered herein the prerequisites by which it is assumed you might even be deserved of such steak.
Yes, the many ways in which the amateur can mess up a steak is impressive. After generations where many wanted to smother everything in sauce to cover up for, or otherwise disguise sub-standard beef, we have exited the dark ages. Everything that the Meat Co. does is the polar opposite of this, using a less is more approach to garnishment in order to best bring out the flavor of the beef itself. And, while things like a good fillet and T-Bone may seem enough like a ‘deliciousness-gimme’ that it barely warrants mention, I must say that, here, all the cuts sampled were delicious and tender.
Noting of course that most of us have developed our preferences of how we like our meat prepared, here you are in the hands of experts, and you would do well to go on the culinary adventure with them at the helm. Quite simply- you would be well served to first decide the cut you want, and let them prepare it the way the cut demands. They proved this theory out to us when providing us a cut of rump that tasted as savory and delicate as the fillet that preceded it—no small feat indeed.
It seems that, whereas the Rib eye might best be served medium-to-medium well, in order to allow the marbling to take effect, the rump is best served medium rare- due to its otherwise tough nature. Prime rib, meanwhile, is best served medium or above and happens to be prepared here with the bone still in, allowing for more flavor.
Alas, for those feeling even more adventurous, they also serve steaks cooked in the more rarely seen distinction of Blue. This quick pan flash on each side of the meat is best thought of as very-rare; a Carpaccio lovers delight, no doubt.
Though companywide, The Meat Co. sources a variety of meats from as many varied local farmers as possible, everything served at their Kuwait location is halal Wagyu and Angus, sourced from Australia. Additionally, all of the meat here is grain fed which, incidentally, can relate directly both to the cost of the beef and the amount of marbling found in the cuts. Also, whereas the terms Angus and Wagyu themselves give basically the genetic makeup or breed of these animals, the terms heifer and steer, are delineations in age and sex, both types served here grain-fed to 2-3 years of age. There is a secondary age that helps determine both flavor and texture: the ageing that happens post-slaughter, en route from farm to flame, helping to further tenderize in the process. At the Kuwait location, they will often age the beef for an additional 21 days.
While the novice might often purposefully choose a steak out of the case for its lack of visible fat, often with health benefits in mind as they are doing so, it is important to note also the two types of visible fat on a steak. One is absolutely the kind you don’t want and deserves to be kept away from. This fat is harder to the touch and is normally found along the edges of a cut of beef. The second type of fat, more commonly known as marbling, is actually a desired flavor enhancer and full of omega 3 type “good” fats that a body needs. The primary visible distinction here of course being that the latter is an intra-muscular fat that will appear as smaller and thinner lines that spider-web throughout the meat. It is also important to note that as you cook the steak, this marbling fat will burn off and basically dissolve into awesome flavor (a technical term, of course).
Hopefully, all the above gives you some good ideas in what to look for when you next hunt down a steak in the wilds of the grocery store. However, should you find yourself out and about, you may just want to veer towards 360 Mall for a South African grilling experience. Have a steak made by people who have been waiting for you, prepping your steak even locally, for 3 plus weeks in anticipation of your arrival. Their “pasture to plate” mindset, and love for the art of the parts of the cow, forms a culinary experience worthy of that space in your stomach.
For a truly unique dining experience head down to The Meat Co., located on the 2nd level in 360 Mall. For more information or to make a reservation please call: 2530 9696 or log onto their website: www.themeatco.com.