Last night I watched a BBC documentary from Michael Mosley called ‘Should I eat meat?’. Doctor Mosley is well-known for his personal experiments with food and exercise and his well publicised ‘5:2 fast diet’. Before watching I’d already planned to post one of my favourite ways to slow-cook beef, so I thought I’d couple the recipe with my take-outs from the documentary.
In his documentary Michael Mosley looks at the impact of red meat (specifically lamb, pork and beef) on both immediate health markers and overall human longevity. At the same he talks to the current emerging thinking that saturated fat is not the demon it was once portrayed to be (lucky for me as I’m already on the pro-saturated fat bandwagon).
My thinking post the documentary is two-fold:
- Processed meat (bacon, salami, ham etc) should be eaten infrequently, if at all. A statistician talked to the finding that consuming just two slices of bacon daily could potentially cut two years from your lifespan. One current hypotheses is that the process pork goes through to turn it to bacon introduces potentially harmful chemicals into our bodies.
- Red meat (mince, legs, shoulders, ribs etc) enjoyed occasionally in its unprocessed state doesn’t seem to carry a proven health risk. In fact the protein content and B Vitamins in meat are good for you. It’s all about portion size, mindful eating and what else is on your plate (think lots of fibrous vegetables rather than sugary sauces and fries). And don’t forget the meat quality is important – cut back your portion size and/or meat eating frequency and choose grass-fed and/or organic meat.
So I’ll continue to treat myself once or twice a week to a good beef burger, or a pork curry or a slow-cooked lamb shoulder. But I won’t advocate munching down a bacon butty for breakfast or a hotdog for a lunch on the go. Which brings me to this recipe.
When it comes to beef you can’t go wrong with the versatility of grass-fed beef mince (not the lean stuff but the full fat variety). But when time permits nothing beats slow-cooking beef chuck or brisket or cheeks. Here’s a Mexican recipe originally from Neil Perry, one of Australia’s most influential chefs. He recommends this base with beef ribs (and it works well) but I recently tried it with beef chuck and the result is just as good. Adjust the quantities accordingly depending on how much meat you’re cooking.
- 1 kg slow-cooking beef (chuck, brisket or cheeks work well)
- 2 tbsp olive oil (or coconut oil)
- 1 long green chilli, seeds removed (substitute with any fresh chilli)
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- Large pinch of salt
- Ground white pepper (substitute with black pepper)
- 400g tinned tomatoes (substitute with fresh)
- 1½ tbsp pickled jalapeño chillies, chopped
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 600 ml chicken stock (home-made if possible)
- 1 fresh lime
- 1 bunch of fresh coriander
- Optional – 1 tbsp sugar (I omitted this)
- Optional – 1/2 tsp cocoa powder (I added this to experiment and it worked well)
- 1 tsp each of ground cumin and ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp each of ground chilli powder and ground all-spice
- Bring the meat to room temperature and pre-heat the oven to 150C (conventional setting).
- Heat the oil in a saucepan, and sauté the green chilli, garlic, salt, pepper and all of the spices – for around one minute, or until fragrant.
- Add all of the other ingredients to the pan (apart from the beef) and bring to a simmer.
- Add the beef to an oven proof pot or dish and cover with the sauce.
- Cook for 3-4 hours at 150C or until the meat is tender (cook for 2 hours or so on 170C if pushed for time).
- Remove the meat from the pan and rest it on a wooden board for a few minutes.
- Using two forks shred the meat (it should literally fall apart).
- Return the meat to the sauce. Stir through the lime juice and sprinkle over the fresh coriander.
Serve with tortillas, guacamole and a shredded cabbage salad, as well as heaps of fresh coriander and lime.
By Laura (Feast Wisely)
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