Well, they have a trick - its called 'silking the beef'! You have to do it the day before cooking but believe me its worth it. I have a friend who is a chef employed by the Canberra Institute of Technology and is in charge of the cooking school for their Catering Course. I was going to have lunch with them and I was told to turn up early and learn something.
'Silking. beef involves trimming all the fat and sinew off poor cuts of meat and then very thinly slicing them ready for 'silking'. The silking involves the use of egg whites, cornflour and salt and letting the 'pre-silked' beef' rest in a refrigerator overnight until it is considered 'silked beef'.
Here is the recipe I learnt today. It's a good recipe for using cheap cuts of meat that you would usually slow cook as a stew:
SILKED BEEF WITH MUSHROOM AND ONIONS
600g shin beef (about one and a quarter pounds) , cut in three slices a good 3 cm thick
1 large brown onion
1 220g can of sliced mushrooms in thick butter sauce
1 184g can of champignon pieces and stems
2 tablespoons of corn flour
2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
salt for seasoning
2 pinches of cracked black peppercorns
2 pinches of chili flakes
2 pinches of dry basil
Gravox powder (any basic dry gravy powder mix - flavoured if the yen takes you :) )
300ml of water
One large ‘Zip Lock’ bag
Day before, Prepare your meat – Using a very sharp knife, trim all the outer fat and membrane from each slice of shin beef and separate the meaty chunks from their surrounding sinew. Place in a bowl. Take chunks of beef one at a time, place your hand firmly on it and (very carefully) slice it laterally into two pieces about 1 cm thick with a sharp flat bladed knife. Return to the bowl and continue until all chunks are finely sliced.
Place the cornflour, eggwhites and a good dash of salt into the ‘Zip Lock’ bag and add the slice meat pieces. Close the bag firmly and ‘squish’ meat around in the mixture until all the meat is fully coated. Place the zip locked bag in refrigerator and save for 24 hours.
Cooking Day - Peel, quarter, re-quarter and separate the onion into fine slivers. Heat oil in a large skillet, add the onion, cracked peppercorns, dry basil and chili flakes and cook onion until translucent. Remove onion from the pan and reserve leaving some oil and spices in the pan.
Take bag of meat out of your refrigerator, empty into hot pan and quickly brown on each side – add more oil if indicated but meat merely needs ‘browning’ and not "stewing". Return the cooked onions to the pan and turn down to a simmer.
Drain the champignons and combine with mushrooms in butter sauce in a bowl, mix thoroughly then pour over the onion and meat mixture and continue to simmer
Combine two tablespoons of Gravox with 50 mls of warm water and mix to a paste, add the remaining 250 mls of water and stir to combine – pour Gravox mix over the pan contents, increase the heat and bring to the boil and then immediately reduce to a ‘bloopish’ simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Stir or shake the pan occasionally to stop the contents sticking to the base.
To prepare for the table, place the casserole and its contents into a low oven – 120C – and allow to warm for 30 minutes. Remove casserole dish directly to the table on a heat proof mat and serve with steamed cauliflower and snow peas.
This recipe works just as well with 'game meat' - Venison, Capretto, or, Cabrito (Kid goat) and Chevon (mature goat meat) or any other local game meats. I'm trying it on Sunday night with 600g of Kangaroo steak and I'll be adding about a cup of a savoury tomato, herb and onion sauce I made several weeks back from my surplus tomato crop.