There’s no cooking experience quite as basic as cooking a piece of meat on a pan. And yet I’m no expert.
Growing up, my mum never really bought home steak. In her mind, there’s something unacceptable (read: vile) about eating meat that is still pink on the inside. If by the odd chance she’s at a steakhouse, she’ll order hers well done (Gasp!) Any other cuts of beef she makes at home are slow-cooked until the meat is nice and tender. Usually in a green masala. Or cooked in a pressure cooker until the meat is falling of the bone. Don’t get me wrong; my mum is an excellent cook and I’d be lucky to have even half of her kitchen skills.
Ever since I got married and have become lady of my own castle, I’ve looked longingly at beautiful, deep red cuts of beef in the supermarket aisles. I’ve heard it’s super easy to make at home. But is it really? They make it look so easy on TV. Should I try? Which one though? New Zealand or Australian? On the bone or fillet? It’s usually mind boggling so I go pick up the trusty pack of chicken breasts instead. Until now, that is.
I was recently invited to a ‘Steak masterclass’ at Butcha Steakhouse and Grill, located at The Beach, opposite Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR). Originally from Turkey, Butcha is one of the only steakhouses in Dubai to dry-age its beef in-house. As a group of us sat in the meat preparation room upstairs, sipping mocktails and cameras at the ready, the chef explained how they use oak wood chips to smoke the meat which is then grilled over charcoal. The meat then becomes incredibly smokey and flavorful, as I had the pleasure of finding out later that evening. This dry-aging process takes place in a controlled and refrigerated environment for 28 days, allowing the natural enzymes to breakdown and giving the meat a tender, succulent texture.
Butcha’s menu is undoubtedly a meat lover’s heaven. It features both traditional cuts like Tenderloin, Porterhouse, Rib eye, beautifully marbled Wagyu (Grade 8-9), and Turkish specialties like Shaslik and my all-time favourite Sujuk (sausage patties made with walnuts and pistachio). For my main that evening, I chose the Spicy Montreal Steak (below) which is 200g tenderloin slices served with a spicy garlic and pepper sauce. The meat was tender, perfectly cooked to my preference (medium), and the pepper sauce was a beautiful accompaniment. For non-beef eaters, there is lamb, chicken and plenty of salads.
Back to our Steak lesson, the group fired questions to the chef – mainly about how to select the right cut of meat in a supermarket, how long can you keep it in the fridge, and how to get the perfect medium-rare. General consensus around the room was that people preferred rare to medium-rare which isn’t the best way to eat a cut that is heavily marbled – you will need to leave it on the pan longer to really render the fat and make it juicy – else you’ll be left with rubbery bits.
I managed to get a one-on-one with the Head Chef who answered some of my questions but also allowed me to film him in the kitchen as he showed me how easy it was to cook a piece of steak. This TINY 80g piece of meat turned out beautifully tender and I was surprised at how easy it was to make. For your benefit (and our enjoyment!), Namrata and I have created this short video. Hope you enjoy it. Do leave a comment and let us know what you think!
As for learnings from the evening:
- The best meats come from the US, then Australia, New Zealand and Brazil in that order.
- When you’re making steak at home, bring the meat to room temperature first. This will ensure you don’t have to cook it on the pan any longer than you must.
- Make sure the pan is mighty hot. And crank open that window. We all know how sensitive building fire alarms are these days.
- To achieve Medium rare – 4 minutes on each side and then rest the meat for 3 minutes. No need to use an oven.
- When you get the hang of it, it’s better to flip the steak often so it cooks evenly. Else, one side at a time works fine too.
- Practice, practice, practice!
- The Turks really know how to treat their meat with respect and the end result is delicious!
Things you should definitely order at Butcha:
- Cold cuts board – includes delicate slices of smoked lamb, smoked beef, and bresaola.
- Spicy sujuk and merguez sausages
- The lamb chops are one of the best sellers in the restaurant. As the Chef put it, “the best lamb in the world comes from Turkey. You don’t need to add any spices as it has its own flavor.” I wouldn’t fight him on this one.
- As for your main meat selection – there are a range of options. Pick your favourite and I’m sure you’ll be in for a treat.
The chefs cook in an open kitchen so you can see the action, flames and all. Butcha is also open for breakfast where they serve up Turkish favourites such as an assortment of cheeses, menemen, sujuk etc. As the weather gets cooler and its barbeque season, you can also buy meat from Butcha Shop to take home and “throw on the barbie” – Haha God! I’ve waited so long to say that! Yeahh!
Do check out Butcha if you’re looking for a night out with your family or friends, or if you just want plain ol’ delicious steak! And please do have a look at the video we made and give it a go at home. If all else fails, here is Gordon Ramsay showing you how it’s done (and he makes it look SO easy because it really is!)
If you’ve read this far, you are amazing! Here’s some more then for your reading pleasure. While researching the art of cooking steak, I found this detailed article by Paleo Leap. The cavemen must know their meat!
Also, this one by Serious Eats discusses the different types of cuts and how to choose one.
LOCATION: The Beach, opposite JBR (Jumeirah Beach Residence)
DISCLOSURE – I was a guest of Butcha Steakhouse & Grill but as always, all opinions are my own. Thanks to the fab ladies at House of Comms for having me!