Tips & Tricks
How to properly calibrate your meat thermometer: Generally most meat and BBQ thermometers allow for you to easily calibrate the device. Follow these steps and you will always cook your next roast accurately. Note that calibration mostly works on analog/manual thermometers only.
- Locate the calibration “nut” on the back of the thermometer
- Place a pot of water on the stove and heat to a rolling boil
- Wash the thermometer thoroughly without submerging display. Be sure to not bend the thermometer as this can mis-shape the utensil and may permanently make the thermometer defective
- Place the thermometer in the water for at least 30 seconds or until the needle in rises and settles on the 100 Celsius boiling point.
- While taking care not to burn yourself, quickly take the thermometer out of the boiling water and turn the “calibration nut” with a wrench so the needle reads 100C.
- Allow cooling and immediately re-test.
- Follow these steps every 3-5 uses or 3-5 months for accurate readings.
A new way to cook traditional meats: Lamb cooked in hay! The Olliffe team is always looking for a twist on a traditional way of cooking meat and we found several old-world recipes featuring hay as a flavour enhancer.
What you'll need:
- 5 lb lamb leg, bone-in (this is a small leg — make friendly with your butcher to procure)
- 1 cup butter
- 2 ½ tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp pepper
- 750 mL red wine
- 1 grocery store plastic bag full of hay
- Fruit chutney/compote of your choice (for your guests to serve themselves)
1. Light BBQ to a high heat of 550 F to 600 F.
2. Soak hay in cold water in your utility sink for 20 minutes. Be careful not to allow hay to exit the drain and cause an expensive clog. Liberally salt and pepper the lamb leg. Smear the entire leg with butter and allow to reach room temperature.
3. Locate a BBQ-safe vessel with high sidings. We constructed a tinfoil vessel with high sides and placed it on a baking sheet. Drain soaked hay and place 2/3 on bottom of vessel and drizzle 2/3 of wine allotment onto the hay.
4. Place the seasoned leg of lamb on top of the wine soaked hay and add remaining hay on top of leg. Drizzle remaining wine all over the hay.
5. Cook the leg of lamb at 425 F for one hour or until at an internal temperature of 130 F. Lots of smoke will occur, which is normal.
6. Allow to rest 15-20 minutes prior to carving.
Try it yourself and let us know how it worked out! Email us at email@example.com
Seasoned Meats and Poultry: “Seasoned” meat or poultry refers to the method of immersing chicken, pork or other meats into a salt bath, otherwise known as brine. The effects of seasoning are numerous. Not only will the increased salt content boost perceived flavour but the excess salty water would naturally tenderize the meat. However the consequence of meat and poultry priced as a “weighed good” causes the consumer ending up paying for the excess water soaked into the meat. Furthermore seasoning meat and poultry is an effective way to dramatically increase the shelf life of the product. Reputable retailers always label their products as “Seasoned.” Generally, if your chicken breast or pork tenderloin is extra watery and floppy it could be seasoned.
Air vs Water Chilled Poultry: After evisceration, poultry is cooled before processing. Air chilled poultry is the process of rapidly cooling the birds by passing them through several chambers of blasting cold air. Water chilling is the process of immersing the birds into a communal bath of very cold water.
Water chilling is a different process than Seasoning as salt is not included in the water bath. However the 5 to 10 percent of weight gain does occur by the muscle soaking up water therefore water chilling is economically favourable for the packer as 5 to 10 percent of weight is gained. When at your local meat purveyor you want to look for excess moisture in the holding tray. When you feel the chicken it should be firm and dry not sloppy or wet.
Air vs Water Chilled Beef: After evisceration, the carcass is hung to cool and consistently sprinkled with cold water and eventually processed for market. Every night the carcass hangs in the cooler and dehydration occurs losing up to 2% of the original weight. Essentially water is used to subsidize the moisture loss of up to 2% however there are controls in place to add no more than the original weight. Like water chilled, air chilled beef is initially washed down but no more. Some abattoirs cover the carcass in a shroud and hang the beef in a cooler to dry chill. Dehydration does occur and up to 2% of the original weight is evaporated. Air chilled beef holds longer in the cooler allowing the old-fashioned method of dry-aging to be more successful.
Which method is better? (Air or Water?) Both the large and small plants employ these processes. We buy only air chilled chicken as we believe it to be superior in flavour and texture. For beef we believe the answer depends on how it is aged: wet vs dry. Dry aging is the process of allowing the loin to age open-air in a cooler with controlled temperature and humidity. Dry-aged beef has a deep flavour, almost cheese-like. Our experience is that we can dry-age air chilled beef at least 28 days longer than water chilled.
Therefore we believe air chilled beef is better than wet chilled when dry ageing. Wet-aged beef is the process of placing parts, usually the loin, into a vacuum-sealed bag for a period of 4-6 weeks. Therefore,if the intent is to wet-age the beef from the beginning of the processing cycle then the experiential enjoyment of air vs wet chilling is minimal.
How to achieve the perfect grind! When making hamburgers and sausages it is quite important to have your own “perfect grind.” Here are a couple of tips on what we find to be our “Perfect Grind.”
It Is All About The Fat
Use coarse ground chuck, also known as shoulder or blade. This muscle sits beside the start of the highly prized rib loin and makes a top-notch base to your grind. This muscle can be fatty so have your butcher trim the fat well and cubed. Better yet, ask to be instructed on how to seam out each muscle. Meat should be your butchers passion, they are usually happy to share their knowledge. Of course you can experiment with your grind mixture by using ratios of chuck, striploin ends, brisket or short rib meat.
At Olliffe, we start the grinding process by including half the meat with all the fat our recipe calls for and passing (grinding) through a fine plate. This disperses the fat evenly throughout the mixture and the small plate ensures the fat is finely ground and not present when chewing. Spicing may be added in to the mixture but this time passed a coarse plate to be finished.
We recommend you purchase hard fat that is trimmed from either the rib or strip at the loin. This hard fat is the best on the animal, flavorful and will stand up to the heat of a hot grill without rendering too quickly. Be generous when buying your fat, it is “trim” and should be inexpensive.
To Kick it Up a Notch, Or Not?
Many people like to add spices, seasonings and marinades to their burgers and sausages. In our opinion, if you are buying excellent quality chuck with hard steak fat for a hamburger then why mask it?
For sausages spicing and seasoning is perfectly acceptable and fun to have that “eureka” moment when all elements combine to make a great sausage mix. Adding water to your sausage mix is permissible at times if you do not have enough fat, however bread crumbs or gluten should be avoided.
For instance a happy sausage sales person called on Olliffe with their sausage product. We looked at the package and inquired about the baking soda ingredient. The excited salesman replied, “it is the crumbled Soda Crackers that gives you added flavor.” We then cut the sales call short and stated we make all of our own sausages in-house.To help bind your hamburgers use an egg rather than bread crumbs.
Forming and Pressing
Be very careful to not over mix to the point of kneading your burger or sausage mixture. This will result in a dense and compacted cooked result. When forming your “perfect grind” into patties, whether you are using a patty press or not, be gentle and lightly compact to the patty to the point of light resistance.
Top Ten Grill Tips: No BBQ is complete without the perfect steak, but it's no easy feat. We have some tips from our friends that are sure to help even the most amateur chef become a grill master. (Source)
1. Befriend your butcher. Buy from a good butcher shop or from the butcher at your supermarket's meat counter. Avoid prepackaged steaks—plastic wrap traps in moisture.
2. Get good grades. Spring for USDA Prime or Certified Black Angus steaks if you can. Choice-grade steak is a good, less-expensive alternative.
3. Look for marbling. Thin white streaks of fat throughout a steak, called marbling, keep the meat nice and juicy. Plus, the fat adds flavor.
4. Do a warm-up. Take your steak out of the fridge about 20 minutes before grilling to bring it to room temperature. A freezing-cold steak won't cook evenly.
5. Pare down the tools. You don't need elaborate equipment to make a tasty steak—just a solid pair of tongs, a brush and a grill.
6. Feel the heat. Give your grill plenty of time to preheat. If it's hot enough, you shouldn't be able to hold your hand over the grates for more than 2 seconds.
7. Don't move. Let your steak develop a seared crust on the grill before moving or flipping it. If you try to lift the meat before it's ready, it'll stick to the grates.
8. Use the touch test. Check for doneness with a simple tool: your finger. A rare steak feels soft and spongy, medium springs back a bit when pressed, and well-done feels firm.
9. Don't overdo it. Err on the side of undercooking a steak rather than overcooking it. You can always pop the meat back on the grill if its too rare.
10. Let it rest. Once your steak is off the grill, wait at least 5 minutes before slicing. This gives the juices a chance to settle back into the meat. (Source)
A crash course in butcher jargon:
What to Ask For: Cut me a 3-5 pound blade roast next to the first rib, trim the gristle on the bottom and tie.
What It Means: The butcher will give you the prized section of beef shoulder known for its marbling and big beefy flavour. This cut is extension of the rib loin. Your butcher should have trimmed much of the connective tissue that makes it chewy. Only 3-5 pounds of this big flavoured cut are available.
What to Ask For: Cut the first chop from the shoulder, leave on as much belly as possible and include the fat.
What it means: This pork chop is the runt of the litter, but the tastiest! You are getting the first pork rib chop (rib steak in beef parlance) located next to the fatty goodness of the shoulder. This is an ugly chop with the best marbling and satisfying flavour.
What to Ask For: Bone the entire mid-loin keeping the strip attached to fat and take out the tenderloin. Well trim the connective tissue running on top of the strip portion then roll the opposite end of the tender with the strip and tie up for my Sunday roast.
What it Means: Separate and take the bone out of the mid loin (the T-Bone in beef world). This leaves you with the only the prime part of the lamb — the striploin and tenderloin. Roll the tenderloin and striploin to create the perfect boneless loin roast.