I remember my very first good steak like it was yesterday. It was at a law school function, funnily enough – as I’ve always found that food mass-produced for functions with your alternate style of serving tends to come out average at best. Before this time, I had only ever had your usual rump and sirloin pub steaks and couldn’t understand the Australian love for such a chewy, gristly and rubbery piece of meat. This was an eye fillet. A meltingly tender, seared medium rare eye fillet so juicy and flavoursome without needing the trimmings. It was like waking up from a deep sleep, and since that point my love affair with a good quality steak has continued.
I went to MUMU Grill in Crows Nest last Saturday afternoon for their Beef and Beer Masterclass. From what I read on the rundown of the class from their website, Craig – the head chef at MUMU – would be teaching us about different cuts of beef, how to cook them and provide us with a few recipes used by the MUMU team, while Dan from Beer Snobs would be running a beer tasting class as we enjoyed the rewards of our cooking efforts.
It’s a small, intimate number of people per class so that we all can fit around the service counter of the kitchen and around the main bench alongside Craig as he introduces himself and the various cuts of meat that we would be preparing for our meal. He’s a down to earth fellow, explaining how he came to start at MUMU, his own revelations when he tasted grass-fed beef for the first time, and his determination to steer the restaurant towards completely sustainable dining – even the project of installing solar panels on the MUMU roof.
His passion behind organic and sustainable beef is clearly evident, explaining that grass-fed beef, when compared to grain-fed, has less total fat, saturated fat, cholestrol and calories. It also has more Vitamin E, C and other health-promoting fats including omega-3 fatty acids. Meat that’s not only healthy for you but much more succulent, tasty and tender? I’m down for that.
It’s a hands-on class, so we all get a turn in the kitchen to re-create a few of MUMU’s signature dishes: BBQ Szechwan and Coffee-Crusted Prime Rib with BBQ Pear Salad and Horseradish, BBQ Ribs, T-Bone Tagliatta, and – my favourite cut – some Eye Fillet wrapped in prosciutto and sage.
You truly have not experienced hot until you’ve been in a commercial kitchen! It’s exactly the reason why I couldn’t go into hospitality full-time myself. With Craig at the helm, under his watchful eye and careful tuition with a few lighthearted digging jokes at the blokes who struggled with the heat of the grill, our early dinner was prepared. It’s highly interactive cooking, with Craig’s teaching and advice, tasting spices and the cooked meat as we go along, and getting down in the kitchen – from squeezing lemons to flipping steaks to pounding coffee beans.
A few pointers: Craig recommends oiling the meat before it goes on the grill so as to not cause flaring when you drizzle the oil over, and he swears by rice bran oil. With its high smoke point, it doesn’t change flavour at high temperature. A proper grill should be hot enough to the point that you can just hold your hand 20cm above the grill for a few seconds before having to pull your hand away. In regards to marinating, a good quality steak should not require much flavouring at all, but I learned that by cooking the steak just seasoned with salt and pepper before coating it with a mixture of pounded garlic and herbs afterwards, you don’t burn the garlic in the cooking process and leave a bitter crust on the outside of the steak.
And of course, the real thing that everyone wants to know is, how do you know when your steak is cooked? Well Craig said there’s no way around it; you’ve got to touch and feel the steak to test it. He provides us with a test method. With your palm up, feel the pad of your palm just under under your thumb. Touch the tip of your index finger to your thumb and the feeling of the pad is what a medium-rare steak will feel like. As you progress through your fingers, these are indicators for medium, medium-well, and your pinky to your thumb will feel like a well-done steak.
But I won’t give away all of Craig’s secrets here; you will have to go to a class and listen and see for yourself 😉
After toiling away in the kitchen, we finally have a sit down outside and dig in enthusiastically as Dan comes around to fill up our glasses.
Like a wine appreciation course, we are taught how to look at a beer for its colour and clarity, smell it, and identify the various flavours throughout the beer as it goes down. We taste a variety, from international beers to local producers and a interesting dark ale from Tasmania. There are pilsners and pale ales, but my favourite is the Blanche de Namur – a top fermented wheat beer that was surprisingly fruity and refreshing.
We finished off our class with very full bellies and in excellent spirits – exactly the state that good beef and beer should leave you in! This would be the perfect class for any beef lover…especially if you love a good beer to go with it. I can imagine a ticket to this class would make a fantastic gift; but beware of your barbeque being taken over for the next couple of weeks!
As everyone’s favourite dish was the BBQ Ribs, I’m sharing the recipe with you dear readers below. It’s surprisingly simple and produces wonderfully glistening, soft and smokey ribs with meat that falls off the bone. It’s finger-licking goodness!
You will need:
- One rack of beef ribs;
- 2 cups of soy sauce;
- 1 cup of sweet chilli sauce;
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar;
- 1 long red chilli, seeds removed and pounded;
- 1 tablespoon tomato sauce.
Cut the ribs into portions and boil the ribs in salted water for two and a half hours. While it’s cooking, add all of the remaining ingredients together into a large saucepan and reduce on the side of the grill until sticky and syrupy. Grill the ribs, painting on the sauce as you grill. Serve hot with more sauce on the side.
70 Alexander Street
Crows Nest NSW 2065
(02) 9460 6877