01 July 2015
3 x Irish beef
The quality of a good piece of cooked meat begins at the starting point, that is, with the farmer, because you can only serve a delicious meal by starting with the best quality ingredients, combined with proper preparation. Irish beef and Big Green Egg are the perfect partners in this case. Big Green Egg expert, Ralph de Kok, travelled to Ireland in order to make a number of delicious Irish beef dishes on location.
irish beef, the taste of nature
In recent years, interest in the origins of food has been on the rise. Consumers highly value quality and taste, but also sustainability and, in the case of fish and meat, animal welfare. These factors are nothing new for certain producers, such as the Irish farmers who supply, among other things, delicious Irish beef.
Irish beef is well-reputed among those in the know. It is flavourful, of superb quality and is produced according to traditional methods. It is an excellent addition to a balanced diet and, when prepared on the Big Green Egg, this already mouth-watering beef is given just that little something extra.
But what makes Irish beef so special? In the first place, the Irish climate, the freedom to move afforded the cattle and Ireland’s endless grasslands are major contributors. In addition, the small scale of the producing farms, most of which have been family businesses for generations, plays an important role. But while these farmsteads have generally been blessed with substantial pastures, on average they each produce a mere 32 head of cattle.
Because Ireland’s climate is mild and moderate, the cattle are able to spend the majority of the year in the pastures. By spending such a long time outside and thanks to the enormous amount of space they’re given, these animals are afforded an unparalleled freedom of movement. Combined with a diet that includes natural vegetation, this not only ensures that these cattle live natural and content lives, but also that their meat is a cut above the rest.
Meat that comes from grass-fed cattle is known for its full, pure flavour. In addition, it contains fewer saturated fatty acids than meat from grain-fed cattle. Ireland’s calcium-rich soil produces strong, healthy grasses, as well as a great deal of clover, which is a natural source of protein. It goes without saying that this positively influences both the taste and quality of the meat. The grass, the freedom of movement and the choice to herd only quality species of cattle together ensure the production of deliciously tender, beautifully marbled meat.
Moreover, the cattle’s freedom of movement also allows their fat to become evenly distributed throughout their bodies, which benefits the meat’s tenderness.
With their natural environment as a backdrop, the Irish cattle’s natural behaviour is also stimulated. Following their birth, calves remain with their mothers for a period of six to ten months, in which they are naturally nursed and live amongst the heard. An additional advantage to their outdoor lifestyle is that, as they are used to surviving outside, the animals are strong and less susceptible to disease.
In the short time that the cattle are stalled, their manure is collected and used to fertilise the soil, which also serves to reduce the need for artificial fertilisers. Ireland is a country where sustainability in the production of foodstuffs has been a priority for years. In addition to its food origins and quality system, Ireland launched a nation-wide sustainability programme in 2012, with the aim of increasing the sustainability of its production even further.
Ireland’s objective is to be the world leader in sustainably produced beef by 2016 and to give consumers the opportunity to make the conscious choice to buy delectably sustainable, animal-friendly and, above all, delicious meat. What a wonderful ingredient for a meal from the Big Green Egg.
The vision of a Big Green Egg expert
There are large differences in terms of the taste and tenderness of meat. Irish beef is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful types of beef that I know. This has to do with the breed, but also for a large part, with the food and the life that the cattle have had. The rules and regulations in Ireland are extremely strict and the farmers that I met also take them very seriously. Furthermore, they attach great value to the welfare of their animals and you can taste that!
Because, in general, the cattle have eaten grass their entire lives, the meat is very different from, for example, North American beef in terms of taste and structure. For this reason, in order to prepare it properly, you must handle a piece of Irish beef differently from the aforementioned North American beef.
There are countless ways to prepare Irish beef. This time, I have selected three popular cuts with which I personally have been working for more than 20 years now. I have of course also taken into account the structure of this beautiful meat!
Planning to prepare Irish beef on the Big Green Egg? Give these 3 recipes a try!