Organic Food and the Better Barbecue:
The Soil Association have teamed up with a number of partners over the next couple of months, to raise awareness of Organic food and produce.
The Soil Association are to be congratulated for their efforts since 1946 in pushing the agenda of proper management of natural resources in food production. We kind of take it for granted these days that nice organic stuff is available to us, and we wouldn’t have any of that without the Soil Association. As a charitable organisation, they established the rules by which something could be considered organic, and stand as the respected certifying authority which defines “Organic” The one criticism of organic produce has always been cost. This is changing however, as more farms and producers are operating organically, and more customers are buying organic, the economies of scale have begun to come into play. People have also begun to appreciate how much better the produce can be, and how much better it is for the environment, and the animal husbandry too. Did you know that an organic farm has anything up to 50% more overall plant, insect and birdlife than non-organic? Organically farmed livestock has the highest standards of treatment of any farmed livestock. All produce is fully traceable, there are no “gaps” in the production history.
Eversfield Farm has been certified organic since 2004, and rightly prides itself as being one of the 100% grass fed club. This means the certified land provides grass grazing all year round form their own land, even in the depths of winter any silage fed to the animals has been cut earlier in the year from the farm itself only.
Meat is a food where I think it’s very easy to see a clear difference in quality. We eat organic meat wherever possible, and it’s often quite clear to us when meat has been more intensively farmed. Eversfield Farm has an extensive organic meat, vegetable and dairy product box scheme where you can have a selection delivered to your door on set dates repeating at varying frequency.
The Big Green Egg is a pretty amazing BBQ despite it’s oddball name! Clearly it get’s it’s name from it’s look, just like a ….erm, big green egg! As BBQs go they aren’t particularly cheap, but they ooze quality and solidity. They are probably the only BBQ with built in insulation. This means they retain their heat, and are much cooler on the outside as well. They will also achieve much higher internal temperatures should you wish to cook Pizzas etc. On a full fill of charcoal, and with temperature regulation, these BBQs will remain cooking hot for anything up to ten to twelve hours!
We were treated to a demonstration of how to successfully BBQ a variety of cuts of meat supplied from Eversfield farm. There is a tendency perhaps for people to just throw a hunk of meat on the BBQ and keep prodding it until it looks burnt enough! It’s a real shame to do that to a good piece of meat, and a little care and proper treatment af the meat will give you much better results! An interesting point brought up was seasoning your meat. Empirical testing suggests that you should either season your meat well beforehand, at least an hour, or after removing from the heat. That’s an interesting recommendation and one I will be testing out myself. The other, was to use a cheap temperature probe to check the “done-ness” of the meat. 55c will give a a medium rare steak. £5 upwards will buy you a perfectly usable probe. We have been using temperature probes at home for cooking for a while now, and it really makes for a very reliable method of getting the meat “right” every time.
Lastly was the “resting” of the meat. This is much more important that people give credit for, and can have a major effect on taste and tenderness. Ten minutes minimum should be allowed for a steak, more so for roasts and larger joints.
3 cuts of beef were offered, and it was interesting to taste them side by side. Freshly made Lamb Koftas were also made and cooked, these were particularly tasty in my view! A slow cooked pulled Pork was also presented, which had been in a Big Green Egg for the past ten hours! Again it was wonderful, the meat just melting in the mouth.
This campaign is very well thought out I reckon. BBQ’d meat is a pretty pure tasting experience on the whole, and the quality of the meat will really shine through. We’ve all been perhaps to those BBQs where you’ve been offered dry, claggy sausages, and shriveled crispy bits of chicken and steak. Using better ingredients in the first place will immediately improve things, and a little care in cooking will do the rest. The Soil Association know summer is coming up and BBQing will be higher in our minds as the weather gets better. Why not visit www.soilassociation.org/betterbbq and have a look?