We all know rural Ontario produces some of the best and most delicious food, including amazing beef. If you have not yet had the good fortune to meet any of the farmers who produce our quality beef, then let me introduce you to Bill Sheard and the 1,400 other residents living on Sunnymead Farm in Caledon, Ontario.
Talk to Sheard about his cattle and you would think he’s talking about his children. “Cattle need a lot of care and attention throughout their life,” explains Sheard, who goes on to say his mornings begin in the barns waking up each one of them to make sure they’re fit and well.
Meat is healthy as long as the animal is healthy and Canada has very strict rules governing the well being of farm-raised animals. No antibiotics, growth hormones or preservatives. The healthiest meat comes from animals that were raised with care, on an all-natural diet, on sustainably managed farms. “People don’t realize that an awful lot of cattle food is produced with processed grain, but my cows get the nutrition from whole grain,” emphasizes Sheard. “My beef is very nutritious.”
Local butchers, such as Tom Stasiuk at Marbled Meats in Oakville, deal with only natural beef that’s locally and family farmed, antibiotic and hormone-free. The store’s top three selling cuts of beef include New York, rib-eye and tenderloin. Stasiuk’s favourite cut is the New York strip loin, which goes on his grill lightly seasoned. “Because the beef is extremely high quality, all it needs is a little bit of salt and pepper,” he says.
That seems to be the consensus when it comes to a well-aged, good quality cut of beef. As far as Terry Sawford of Ernie’s Meats in Burlington is concerned (who also favours the New York cut), “you just need to put some salt and pepper on it while you warm up the BBQ.” Once in a while he does like to use Barbarian Steak Spice, available at the store. “It’s to die for,” he admits. Sawford also advises that customers shouldn’t shy away from fat in the meat, which is what makes the meat moist. “The trick to a good steak is the marbling,” he says. “Fat makes meat moist and breaks down the muscles. That’s what makes a nice steak.”
How exciting that barbecue season is finally upon us. I can see it now – a thick, juicy steak, spitting and splattering on the barbecue. When buying your steak, burgers or picnic roast, make sure you ask your butcher if the beef is aged. More mature meat improves the flavour, but like wine, only the best meat improves with age.
For summer grilling put your steak or burger on a hot, greased grill and watch how the meat will seize to the grill. The perfect time to turn it over is when you’re meat has released its grip. Always remember to let your steaks stand for a few minutes after removing them from the heat.
Now you can spend the summer trying all the different cuts of grilling steaks to find the one you like the best.
With all the complicating factors such as cut of beef, size of meat and cooking method, you can simplify the process with the use of a meat thermometer and follow this guide:
Medium Rare145F (63C)
Medium 160F (71C)
Well 170F (77C)
By: Lynn Ogryzlo
Lynn Ogryzlo is a food, wine and travel writer, international award winning author and regular contributor to Look Local Magazine. She can be reached for questions or comments at www.lynnogryzlo.com.
Ernie’s Meat Market
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