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The 101's of buying, prepping and cooking meat

The 101's of buying, prepping and cooking meat

A solid foundation of knowledge on buying, prepping, storing and cooking meat is something you’ll easily build with practice. Sharpen your cooking skills with these tips from the Farro butchery.

Choosing

  • You can rest assured that in choosing to buy your meat at Farro, you are choosing to uphold certain values. At Farro we pride ourselves on supporting local food producers that hold animal welfare in the highest regard. Our fresh meat offering only includes free-range and free-farmed meat that is raised ethically right here in New Zealand.
  • No matter what type or cut of meat and poultry you choose, you can be sure that all meat at Farro, both pre-packaged and at the butchery counter, is guaranteed for freshness and quality.
  • Can’t find what you’re looking for? Ask the staff at the Farro butchery – it may be stocked under a different name, or staff can show you a similar cut that will cook in the same way.

Storing

  • Keep meat in the fridge, towards the back if possible where it won’t be affected by the door opening and closing. For longer storage, ensure meat is wrapped or sealed in an airtight container. 

Bone-in or Boneless?

It depends on what you want to cook and by which method. Meat around bone takes longer to be penetrated by heat from cooking but stays more moist throughout slow cooking methods. Large pork and lamb cuts on the bone (shoulder and leg) can be cooked for hours at a low temperature and just become more and more succulent. When cooking chicken on the bone, your main consideration is allowing enough time for the flesh around the bone to be cooked through. Meat that has no bone will cook through quicker, and quicker still the thinner it’s sliced – so with any boneless cut, you’re looking to reach the right stage of doneness (see tips opposite) while avoiding overcooking and drying out the flesh. 

Prepping

AIRING TIME Many cuts, particularly large cuts of meat with an exterior layer of fat, benefit from a period of airing prior to cooking. A day before cooking, pat meat dry with paper towels, apply any rubs or seasoning as desired, place meat on a rack in a tray or dish, loosely cover with a paper towel, and place in fridge. This will help dry out the exterior, enabling it to crisp up well during cooking.

MARINATING This technique infuses meat with flavour and moisture – perfect for smaller cuts or those prone to drying out, like chicken drums or breast meat, lamb chops, diced beef and pork. 

BRINING is the technique of immersing in salted water; this helps seal in juices and infuse meat with flavour. It is particularly useful for larger cuts, and for lean cuts such as chicken breast, pork loin chops and fillet, or lamb tenderloin. Make a solution with a ratio of 4 tbsp sea salt to 4 cups water. Make enough liquid to cover the meat. Add any aromatics you like: lemon zest, whole spices like cinnamon, star anise, and peppercorns, lemongrass, ginger, herbs, chilli. In an airtight container, submerge meat in the liquid, cover and chill – 30 mins is enough for smaller and boneless cuts, while up to 12 hours works well for large cuts.

Quick & Slow Cooking

Quick-cooks over high heat work well for cuts that are to be served rare-medium: beef steaks or fillet, lamb chops, rump and tenderloin. On a barbecue, quick-cook on the grill over high heat, or on a stove-top, cast iron pans are a good pick for getting a nice char on the surface of meat through the process known as the Maillard reaction. Slow-cooking of large cuts, and of stews and casseroles, can be done in the oven – keep the temperature between 140-160°Cover three or more hours. Large cuts can be slow-cooked in a barbecue with a lid – make sure the meat is cooking via indirect heat; in a charcoal barbecue this means placing the iron plate underneath the grill to deflect heat.

A cut above

Wagyu is a Japanese beef cattle breed known for its marbling of fat. The First Light Wagyu at Farro comes from Hawke’s Bay and is entirely grass-fed, which has been shown to mean higher levels of Omega-3s. Cook your Wagyu to at least medium-rare. It requires a little more cooking so the marbled fat is softened and the beef attains its optimal taste and juiciness. 

Doneness

Using a meat thermometer (inserted into the thickest section of your meat) takes the guesswork out and avoids under or over-cooked disasters. For beef and lamb, your ‘done’ temperatures start from 40°C for rare, through to 70°C for well-done; for pork and poultry, 70°C is a safe bet. Resting meat after cooking is important; it finishes the cooking process with residual heat and lets the juices settle into the flesh rather than running out if meat is sliced too soon. As a general guide, rest smaller cuts for around 5 mins, and larger cuts like roasts for 10 mins