A weekend of beef with Matt Moran and Anthony Puharich
Australian butchery expert Anthony Puharich and celebrity chef Matt Moran tell us what to expect from their visit across the Tasman.
Much to the delight of devoted beef lovers, Aussies Matt Moran and Anthony Puharich are heading our way in October to host a fabulous weekend at the Farm at Cape Kidnappers. Guests will enjoy a nose-to-tail beef masterclass with Anthony, Australia’s beef supplier extraordinaire, which will set the scene for chef Matt Moran’s dinner — a five-course vertical tasting menu featuring three different styles of beef: grass, grain and wagyu.
We asked the boys to share a little of what they know with us.
For those New Zealanders who may not know who you are, can you tell us what you do and why you do it.
I am the CEO/founder of Vic’s Premium Quality Meat, a meat wholesaling business that I established with my father, Victor Puharich, in 1996. We are now the leading wholesaler and retailer of Australian premium meat. We connect the best meat producers in Australia to the best chefs and to consumers who are discerning and care about quality meat. I love my job, I love the industry I work in and the reputation our family has created. I’m a fifth generation butcher and, although my business has grown from very humble beginnings our family’s history and connection with the meat industry is what inspires and motivates me every day.
What’s happening on the beef scene in Australia?
Australian beef has always been held in very high regard around the world. The industry continues to grow and with it the quality of beef, both grain-fed and grass-fed, has seen huge improvement in the last decade. In more recent times, Australia has definitely confirmed its position in the industry as one of the best producers of wagyu in the world outside Japan. Provenance and knowing where and how your beef was raised and produced is a key interest among the general public and industry at the moment. There is a strong trend among Australians of wanting to be connected to their food, so we’re seeing a strong movement back towards shopping locally and with independent butchers and store owners, which is very pleasing and encouraging to see. Another trend that is gaining momentum is the nose to-tail approach to cooking beef. The increased use and popularity of secondary cuts like flank, oxtail, beef cheek, brisket has been something that I have noticed with interest. Finally, I’m so happy to see a huge interest in high-quality, artisanal cured meats. Products such as prosciutto, bresaola, culatello, biltong and salami. The range and quality of this type of product continues to evolve and improve in Australia.
Do you know much about the New Zealand beef industry? Can you share your thoughts on what we have going for us and anything we could be doing better?
New Zealand has always had a great reputation in the wider beef-producing world for its impeccable, clean and green grass-fed beef. I have always seen your pristine environment and climate as a key strength and advantage in terms of promoting your quality beef around the world. I am going to stop there in terms of any advice, as I don’t want you guys doing too good a job and competing or beating us Aussies over here at our own game!
What’s the big deal with wagyu?
Wagyu simply is the tastiest, most tender, best quality meat you can eat. After experiencing wagyu in Japan more than 25 years ago, I’ve always been interested in it, an interest that has quickly developed into a passion. This led to my family pioneering the commercial release and sale of wagyu in Australia. Wagyu is all about the marbling. Marbling is the fine flecks of intra-muscular fat that you find in a piece of meat. It’s a good fat that gives wagyu its unmistakeable juiciness, flavour and tenderness. A piece of wagyu isn’t meant to be eaten in the same sorts of quantities as traditional beef as it’s a very rich piece of meat — so a little bit goes a long way. I cannot see anything but the popularity of wagyu increasing as more and more people get the opportunity to try great quality, properly produced wagyu.
Bite readers like to be conscious consumers. It means things can get a bit pricey, though. Can you give us a few tips on how to buy beef and how to store it? Is it okay to freeze?
My best and first tip to buying quality beef is to search out a good local butcher. Ask them where they source their meat, the age of the beef, what it’s been fed and how it was raised and as many questions as possible in order to feel comfortable that you are buying your beef from a butcher who knows his stuff. The old cliche of not judging a book by its cover doesn’t always apply to purchasing beef. A really important visual cue to buying beef is to look at the meat colour; the meat should have a nice deep red appearance, nothing pale or too dark. Marbling is also a good visual cue, it doesn’t have to have a lot but it should have some fine flecks of marbling through the eye muscle, it’s an indication that the beef is good quality and that the animal has had a good life. If you buy your meat from a butcher it should last at least a couple of days if it’s stored in the coldest part of your fridge without freezing. You can also ask your butcher to cryovac the piece of beef, which will extend the shelf life for at least a week without having to freeze it. I’m not a fan of freezing my beef as I prefer to purchase it as I need it but if you do have to freeze it’s all about how you thaw it. The best way is to plan ahead and thaw it out in the fridge for a couple of days before using to allow it to thaw slowly, ensuring a much better beef-eating experience.
What are the key points you are hoping people will take away from your nose-to-tail masterclass at The Farm?
I’m hoping to open the eyes of everyone attending to the endless possibilities of beef so that they can go home with a new appreciation of how glorious and rewarding it is cooking with a wider variety of beef cuts. In Australia the most popular cut of beef is the fillet – did you know the fillet only makes up 1.7 per cent of the overall weight of a carcass of beef? There is so much more to a carcass of beef with in excess of 35 different cuts to cook, experiment with and enjoy. Share a favourite beef recipe you cook at home a lot. I am currently obsessed with smoked meat, traditional Texas style smoked meat. Texas-style barbecue isn’t for everyone as it does take some time to familiarise yourself with the art of smoking meat and you do need to use specialised equipment for this cooking method. My favourite thing to do on a smoker is a bone-in short rib of beef, which I simply season with salt and pepper and smoke for six hours at 120C over iron bark, a natural Australian hardwood. The end product is phenomenal, melt in your mouth, gelatinous, juicy and tender — the most incredible piece of meat you could ever eat.
What are you up to right now, Matt?
Lots! It's been a busy year and it's only getting busier, which is great. My restaurants (including ARIA Sydney and Brisbane, Chiswick, North Bondi Fish, Chiswick at the Gallery, Opera Bar and Riverbar & Kitchen) and I've got a few new ventures in the works that I'm really excited about. I've also been enjoying sharing my passion and knowledge from my TV show Paddock to Plate. There are a few new projects for TV this year too! I'm currently filming The Great Australian Bake Off with Maggie Beer.
How to you know Anthony? Do you work together a lot?
Anthony has been one of my closest mates for the past 20 years. We met back in the days of my restaurant, Moran’s, in Potts Point when his family business supplied meat to the restaurant. We still work closely together and hang out a lot outside of work, too.
Share something you have learnt from him?
It’s not so much what we’ve learnt from each other, it’s what we share in common. We’re both incredibly passionate about the food industry and quality produce and we have a lot of other things in common too — we’re both work aholics and have kids at similar ages, for example. I’m a cook witha background in butchery and he’s a butcher with great knowledge of cooking, so our conversation usually always comes back to food.
What do you know about the New Zealandmeat industry?
New Zealand has some amazing produce! Particularly some good lamb. But being a lamb farmer myself, I have to say it’s just a little bit better here in Australia. Ha! :)
Has having cattle on your own farm changed the way you think about beef — both when you buy it and cook with it?
Of course! I’m very passionate about it and more importantly, encouraging everyone to be more conscious of where our food comes from — how and where it’s grown or nurtured and how it’s harvested or killed. The “paddock to plate” philosophy and knowledge of the journey of our food is very close to my heart.
As cooks, how can we go about being more conscientious consumers of beef?
I really encourage everyone to learn more about their food and what they’re eating. As for consuming beef, ask your butcher! The best of them are very passionate about it and love informing their buyers and sharing their knowledge. Anthony’s a great example of this — he loves meat and equally loves talking about it.
Chargrilled beef sirloin
Dad and I predominantly breed sheep at the family farm, but we’ve always had a small herd of cattle, too. We like to vary the breed and try new ones as much as possible, the latest being angus and cross-shorthorn. Not surprisingly, we have steak pretty often, at least once a week, and I get cravings for it every now and then. This is how I serve it up for the family.
4 x 200g beef sirloin steaks
Olive oil, for drizzling
½ bunch chives, finely chopped
1 small fresh horseradish
Lemon halves, to serve
1 shallot, finely sliced
½ clove garlic, crushed
1 small celeriac, peeled and diced
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp lemon juice, or to taste
2 ½ Tbsp cream
2 tsp olive oil
- To make the celeriac puree, melt the butter in a heavy based saucepan over medium heat, then add the shallot and garlic and cook for 3-5 minutes, until softened. Add the celeriac and cook for 5 minutes, then pour in 2 ½ Tbsp water and cook for a further 8-10 minutes, until the celeriac is tender. Transfer to a blender with the lemon zest and juice and blend to combine. Add the cream and blend to mix in. Continue to blend, slowly adding the olive oil to emulsify. Press through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and keep warm.
- Heat a chargrill pan over medium heat. Season the steaks and drizzle over the olive oil. Grill the steaks for2-3 minutes, until lightly charred, then rotate to create cross-hatched grill marks and cook for a further 1 minute. Turn over and repeat the process. This will result in rare to medium-rare steaks.
- Place the steaks on serving plates and sprinkle with chives, then grate over horseradish, to taste. Serve with the celeriac puree and lemon halves.
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CALLING ALL CARNIVORES