Monday, 10 November 2014

Cooking the perfect steak - Guns In Australia style.

Whilst we usually prefer to bash politicians and the media on the Guns In Australia blog, what we don't often talk about is enjoying the "fruits", or should I say "meats", of our labour.

Cooking the perfect steak is an art rarely mastered by individuals over a lifetime. So what I plan to do is share some of the secrets i've learned over the last 30 years, getting you closer to cooking the perfect steak.

Some of my tips are a little unconventional, like stomping on your steak with your boot to tenderise it first, but I invite you to try them and provide feedback.

I should start by saying all red meat should be cooked medium rare or medium at the most. If you like your steak burnt to a crisp and refuse to change your ways, well, you're only missing out and should probably walk away now.

I'm going to talk about cooking beef primarily, but these principles can be applied to venison, kangaroo, lamb as well as any other red meat.

Selecting the right cut

If you're barbecuing chuck steak, round steak, a shoulder cut because that is all you can afford or you're hunting isn't up to scratch, you probably want to try hunting on a cattle farmers land. Try to scope out a nice young beef calf and take it down with a clean head shot. You might want to get out of there quick smart if you don't have their permission to take out the calf or permission to hunt on their land.

The best cuts, in my opinion, in the following order, are the eye fillet, rib fillet, scotch fillet, t-bone, and then maybe rump. I'm not really a fan of porterhouse or sirloin, but that could be just because I haven't prepared those cuts for a steak lately.

Aging your meat

If you're buying meat from a butcher, buy a whole cut that is cryovaced and buy a cryovac kit to seal the bag after you have cut off the few steaks you plan to eat that day. Cryovac is essentially a sealed plastic bag that cuts off all the oxygen to the meat, so it doesn't go rancid, but allows the enzymes in the cut to continue to break down the meat for a more tender enjoyable eating experience.

Your local hunting and camping stores should sell these kits.

There is a lot of debate about how long you should age your meat and it varies depending on who you talk to between 1-6 weeks.

I like to age for at least 2 weeks, but find 3 weeks ideal if you're planing a BBQ and want to impress your guests. If you're just cooking for yourself or family, 2 weeks is fine. You can cut a few slices, seal the bag, rinse and repeat for another 3 weeks safely. 5 weeks is probably the maximum length i'd keep a cut in the fridge.

Preparing your steak

Get the meat out of the fridge a good 3 hours before you plan to cook it in order to bring it to room temperature.  The warmer the meat and the slower you cook it, puts less stress on the cut, savours the juices for a tender enjoyable meal.

Buy a salt grinder and season both sides of the steak with freshly ground sea salt. Rub the salt into the steak.

Bath your steak in a good quality light olive oil.  Olive oil burns at a lower temp than canola or vegetable oil, so if you use olive oil, be sure to keep the temp down low. If your oil is smoking, it's far too hot and you'll taint the flavour of your steak.

Cover your meat while it's coming to room temp.

Cooking your steak

Unless you really want buckets of smokey flavour, the grill is not the right spot to on your BBQ to cook your steak. The grill cannot sear the steak quick enough either. But there is nothing wrong with cranking it up, just before your steak is ready, to include those aesthetic grill marks.

You want to cook your steak on the plate. Get the plate reasonably hot to start with, but turn it down or even off to bring the temperature right down the moment you put your steak on.  Using the tongs, move the steak around for a good minute to stop it sticking.  Turn it over and do the same to sear it properly and to lock in the flavours.

Your steak should be ever so gently sizzling away.

How long you cook it for on each side really depends on the thickness and the cut. As a general rule, the more lean your meat, the less cooking time, particularly with fillet cuts of roo or venison.
Cooking times is not something I can teach you, but over time you should learn how well your steak is cooked by pressing it gently with tongs.  Don't cut into your steak while it's cooking to check. You'll drain all the juices out and it will go dry and taste like cardboard.

You don't roast steak, so if your BBQ has a fancy hood on it, don't close it just because it's there and might seem cool to do so.

Resting your steak

Many chefs will tell you that you should rest your steak for half the time it is cooked. That is great advice if you like a cold steak.  The less you stress your steak and the slower you cook it, on a lower temp, the less time you will need to rest it. I find an average of 5 mins for a reasonably thick steak is sufficient.

Seasoning your steak 

Beef - Freshly cracked pepper 
Lamb - Lemon pepper seasoning rubbed into the meat prior to cooking. Salt not required. 
Venison - No seasoning
Roo - No seasoning or freshly cracked pepper


Disclaimer: My blog assumes the only time it's acceptable to stomp on your steak is after copious amounts of tequila, surrounded by mates who you are trying to impress with your bogan tendencies. It also assumes you understand firearms regs and that poaching cattle is illegal.

Now for some light comedy - LANGUAGE WARNING!!!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Handgun theft in Australia - Where are the guns really coming from?

The Greens recently commissioned a Senate inquiry to investigate the ability to eliminate gun violence in Australia. The inquiry included three full days of hearings from subject matter experts, with the final hearing held in Canberra on the 31st of October 2014. Submissions were heard from NSW Police, Victoria Police, Australian Federal Police, the Australian Institute of Criminology, the Australian Crime Commission, Customs and Border Protection, the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia, Pistol Australia, Crimtrac, Attorney General's Department, the International Coalition for Women in Shooting and Hunting, Armament Research Services and the Crime Prevention Research Center.... to name just a few. 

You can expect a lot of media focus on the inquiry now that the hearings are complete. The Chair of the inquiry, Senator Penny Wright, is due to submit the final report to parliament in the coming months. Stay tuned for that gem...

Despite the hype, that did not stop "The Project" from jumping on the bandwagon and hashing together another sloppy, amateur, fear-mongering diatribe of a story on the night the final hearing closed.  The cast, "Where's Wally Aly" and "Carrie Bimbo Bickmore" were quick to pounce, parroting the Greens Senator's belief that almost all firearms on the black market are stolen from licensed firearms owners. 

Victoria Police gave evidence that of the 48,000 registered handguns in the State, only 6 were stolen in the previous year. When you consider the Australian Institute of Criminology estimate conservatively there are at least 10,000 illicit firearms on the black market, the numbers just don't add up to support the claims made by 'The Project'.

Did the researchers of the program actually attend the inquiry? Did they watch it online? Did they read the Senate submissions made to the inquiry? The answer is obviously 'NO'! Yet the executives that run the sloppy operation at Channel Ten still remain perplexed as to why viewers are tuning out whilst their station is slowly going broke. When will they admit they are completely out of touch with the broader community?

On the flip side, shooting sports have seen massive growth as Australian's are becoming more educated about firearms, refusing to buy into the fear that the mainstream media attempts to shovel down their throats for the perceived belief it might result in ratings.

But back to the topic.... surely any single cell amoeba, bored enough to tune in, would have been smart enough to know that only the theft of firearms from legitimate firearms owners would be reported to police. Why would a criminal report a stolen firearm? Of course illegal gun theft is never reported to the police, and thus never recorded in their statistical reports. When it comes to the illegal importation of firearms, how could the Police or Customs possibly know how many are entering the country illegally? They cannot possibly know what they don't know! Just because more firearms are reported stolen than Customs are able to intercept doesn't automatically draw the conclusion that most illicit firearms were stolen from lawful firearms owners.

I don't expect you to blindly agree with my opinion, but I do encourage you to watch a snippet of the senate inquiry that actually addresses these very points.  

On a side note, the entire premise of the Senate inquiry is completely flawed. Does any rational human being really believe it's possible to eliminate gun violence?  The United Kingdom banned semi-automatic handguns in 1997.  Despite this, the Home Office reported in 2010-2011, 3105 offences related to handguns. 

As a society, we need to learn to live with guns. You too can learn to live with them by either joining a gun club and following Guns in Australia on twitter and facebook... or you could relax your level of fear in the knowledge that firearms crime is relatively low in Australia.