The Missing Cuts – Brisket Edition

Dreaming of slow cooking Brisket or marinading a beef skirt, but only seeing steak or unlabelled diced beef on the retail shelf? It’s this exact frustration that inspired Signature Beef to bring ‘The Missing Cuts’ to you!

We frequent the soapbox sharing how beneficial and important for both our health and processing sustainability it is to enjoy all cuts on the carcass, but sometimes it’s just not all that easy or accessible to do. So we have decided to bring these products to you directly – from our land to your home. We can’t wait to share all the treasures on the carcase with you!

The first of these treasures is the humble Brisket.

With winter weather setting in, there is nothing that warms the cockles of your heart quite like slow cooked brisket. The combination of collagen, marbling and interconnective tissue allows it to hold shape and remain aesthetically appealing during slow cooking, while succumbing to the melt-in-your-mouth tender eating outcome.  A workable size and neat, rectangular shape allows every ounce to be utilised and no need for trimming!

That melt-in-your-mouth sensation you experience from beef fat is backed by science as well!

Compared with other fats, brisket has by far the highest ratio of monounsaturated fatty acids to saturated fatty acids.  Sound technical? Put simply the fat has a lower melting point and higher levels of oleic acid which improves mouth-feel and makes it juicier, with a big added bonus of being better for you!

At Kimberley, Blair slow roasts it with a little salt and pepper and seasons to his liking, letting the beef flavours do the talking.

The key to the perfect slow roasted brisket is cooking with the right temperatures at the right time. Once you have this mastered, one of the beautiful things about brisket is its ability to absorb flavours.

Let your imagination run wild!

Like any good Roast, the initial objective is develop crispy crackling exterior. Ensure the oven is pre-heated and roast for approximately 30minutes at 180 degrees celsius. Once the top is golden, reduce heat to as low and slow as your oven can go (90 degrees celsius) for a good 6-8 hours – we do ours overnight.  During the last hours, gently pour red wine (a little port or fortified wine goes beautifully) or marinade sauce of your choice into the stock  that has formed in the tray.

Carefully keeping the top crust of the roast dry, pour off the hot stock and lard for later. We then ‘press’ the brisket by using a flat, heavy surface (big timber cutting boards are perfect) to sit on top while refrigerating for the day. The brisket can be kept like this for several days, simply reheat the portions when needed.

When you are ready to eat, portion the brisket into serving sizes, and place back into the oven tray. Carefully seperate the chilled stock and lard. Replace the stock (keeping that crispy top dry) and simply reheat in the oven on 160 degrees celsius for approximately 20-30 minutes – until heated through.

While a little preparation is required for the twice – cooked method, it’s a simple process and the results are well and truly worth the wait!

Remember the lard we saved? This homemade source of healthy fats replaces oil in all our savoury cooking!

Stay tuned for our next release of ‘The Missing Cuts’ – delivering all the cuts on the carcase to you in portion packs with endless inspiration!

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Food Heroes – Celebrating the diversity of Beef!

When an opportunity arose to showcase what the beef carcase is capable of, our principals Blair & Josie Angus embraced the the challenge.

 

Blair’s mind immediately began scanning the muscles on the carcase, mentally matching cuts with cooking styles. The winning combinations were cured, smoked, twice cooked, grilled, bourguignon…

and smoked beef caramel brownies…

 Cattle were mustered to smaller holding paddocks for easy viewing.

The day started with a cracking sunrise view at the Kimberley Homestead.

After a moment of appreciation, it was all hands on deck, kneading Smokehouse Beef Rasher Scones.

Blair worked the dough as QCL’s John Walters perfected his recipe for the next regional bake-off!

  Friends and family arrived the afternoon before to lend a hand with the preparations. Age was no barrier, and 8yo Adelaide McArthur was right at home helping her brothers and cousin hold a mob of maiden heifers steady for the crowd.

 

A highlight was having Greg Chappell from Dulverton Angus walk through his selection process for     local producers with a line of upcoming bulls. Blair & Josie shared their story about the development of Angus Pastoral Co’s genetic progression.

 

The next stop was the Feedlot, where Josie, Blair and Tess shared the selection process for Signature Beef’s brands, as well as the feeding programs.

 Soon it was time for our own rations…

…before pulling up a hay bale and settling in for the Panel Session.

QCL’s talented team of journalists had producers drafted off under shady trees with recorders and notepads all day. To read what they had to say, follow the links below:

http://www.queenslandcountrylife.com.au/story/4719206/signatures-secret-to-a-carcase-breakdown/?cs=4988

http://www.queenslandcountrylife.com.au/story/4716659/making-beef-fit-for-purpose/?cs=4988

http://www.queenslandcountrylife.com.au/story/4720608/need-to-break-through-barriers-to-push-consumer-focus-cca-director/?cs=4988

http://www.queenslandcountrylife.com.au/story/4723635/think-meals-rather-than-cuts-food-scientists-tell-beef-producers/?cs=4988

http://www.queenslandcountrylife.com.au/story/4714103/beef-consumer-megatrends/?cs=4988

To all who attended – days like these are the perfect reason to hang up your spurs for a day and catch up with your mates, so we sincerely thank you for joining us.

 Finally, credit to Queensland Country Life & QRAA to Kimberley for initiating and executing such a consumer focused program, we sincerely believe our fellow primary producers share our pride in being Food Heroes.

 

 

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The Finer Things…

Weaners on the march

There is a certain romanticism to the life we lead out here, which becomes even more evident when we head north to our breeding block, Carpentaria Downs.

We have just spent 10 days beginning our annual weaner muster, and I can tell you (straight from the horse’s mouth) that if good beef is like a fine wine, 2016’s crop is going to be an excellent vintage!

Some thirsty weaners and a young horse (6th time mustering) to guide them to water

A little while ago, we covered the weaning process in Part 2 in The Life Of A Feeder Steer (scroll back through our past blogs if you haven’t read it yet!).  Watching our little boys and girls learn to be confident without the security of their mothers brings us such pride in our cattle each year when we go through the weaning muster.  The trust they place in us, having faith that the horses will take them to a place they want to go to, brings a smile to our faces.

Jackson Holloway and Sarah Murray, happy with the mob’s performance

It all comes down to the fact that we want our cattle to live calm and happy lives, because ultimately, they taste better in the end.  By putting them through a series of activities and rewarding them for doing the right thing, they are then calm whenever they meet that particular activity in their future.

Marching them home to the yards after a good few hours eating

Not only do we find immense reward in our weaner training endeavours, we love spending time at Carpentaria.  It’s our little isolated corner of heaven, where the emails and phones are put away, with the exception of a few minutes per day, and we can get back to the things we love.  For instance, this muster, we have a few young horses and young working dogs learning alongside our young cattle.

Young pup Jack learns how to work the lead

The serenity of such a beautiful landscape…

View from the saddle – some breeders camped in the Einsleigh River

… the satisfaction of a successful weaning education…

Blair and his dogs (Felix, Jill, Buster R-L) keeping a watchful eye on the mob

… and the simplicity of life makes the daily hustle worth it in the end.

Blair with Alex Black, keeping an eye on 1’100 little ones as they fill their stomachs

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The Life Of A Feeder Steer – Part 4

We left you with our cattle in the feedlot, and now we delve into the final chapter in the paddock to plate journey.

Upon the completion of their time on feed, the cattle are trucked to a service-kill abattoir facility.  From there, our Sales and Production Manager, Tess Camm, successfully distributes all the cuts to nearly 30 countries across the globe. 

Tess’s job involves knowing an incredible amount about the carcase, in order to be able to predict what she will have to work with and specify to the plant how many kilograms of which cut will go to which market, before the cattle even arrive.  She has upwards of 2000 possible codes to work with, with each code designating what the product name is, the age of livestock and market eligibility of product, how it is cut and finally, the way it is packed.  A 4.2kg striploin destined for China needs a completely different code to a 3.2kg striploin destined for Europe, and so on.

Leading up to a production, Tess is reviewing orders, and fitting them into a matrix that is representative of the yields she is likely to produce.  From here she can determine which orders will be filled this week.  There is only so much meat on the carcase, and Tess relishes the puzzle of figuring out where it will all end up.

As you can see, it’s quite a journey for each animal, starting from north QLD, and ending up almost anywhere in the world.  From paddock to plate, we take pride in treating our animals with care and respect.  In the words of Temple Grandin, “We breed them for ourselves, the least we can do is show them some respect.”  Ultimately, that also gives us a distinction of product, because a happy animal tastes better too!

Thank you for taking this journey with us!

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The Life Of A Feeder Steer – Part 3

Last week, we left off after the weaning process.  At this point, our cattle have graduated their education, arrived at Kimberley, and are ready to begin their adult life.

Upon arrival at Kimberley, they will spend 6-12 months in the paddock growing with their mates.  It’s mostly eating grass, growing, cruising around the paddock and hanging out with mates – a hard life!  We call this process backgrounding.  After they have grown, they begin to periodically come through the yards, where the lead of the mob is selected for entry into the feedlot.

Feedlot inductions occur every 2-4 weeks, and involve the steer or heifer receiving a management tag and vaccinations.  The management tag displays the week number they were inducted and an individual number for that steer.  For example, the 42nd steer we inducted in the 36th week of the year will have a tag that reads 36-42, as the young gentleman on the left is displaying below.

The vaccinations they receive are booster shots to the immunisations the animal has received as a calf, and work to prevent any kind of disease or illness they could encounter and manage any parasites they may come in contact with.

Our cattle spend between 70 and 200 days on a grain-feeding program, depending on which brand they are destined for.  Early maturing cattle take the express route for our 70-day ‘Sondella’ brand. The most popular program is our 110-day program, which brings you our renowned Kimberley Red and its European equivalent Angus Pastoral Co.  Our 200-day grain fed cattle are handpicked by Blair for their ‘mossy’ coat and temperament.  The ‘mossy’ coat is indicative of fine silky hair, which has been proven to be consistent with a finer texture within the meat.  They then feed on a longer, slower feeding program, with only 11% grain for the first 100 days, in order to produce the highest quality beef we can offer, in our Oino-Gustus brand.

Join us again next week for the completion of this journey!

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The Life Of A Feeder Steer – Part 2

Last week we began exploring the journey our cattle take, from paddock to plate.  This week, we are continuing with the next step in the life of a feeder steer.

The weaning process, which we normally start in September, involves educating our young cattle.  During the weaning muster, we will also move cows to a fresh paddock.  Our cows rotate paddocks regularly, whether it is in the branding muster or the weaning muster, and the paddocks are spelled to sustain growth into the next season.  The weaners are brought home to the yards.

We put them into an intensive training course on how to be civilised.  They are taught how to respond to pressure and move as a mob; how to move through the yards in a calm and orderly fashion; how to react to humans, horses and working dogs; and generally how to behave themselves and live as adults.

Each day they are moved around with the horses and dogs until they can calmly follow a horse through the yards.  They will also practice being drafted, learning that the whole process isn’t that scary and how to act appropriately.

They are then taken outside, into small paddocks, where they are ‘tailed’.  Tailing involves allowing them to graze an area for a few hours, while the horses act as the fence around them.  They learn how to recognise what we are asking of them, and behave calmly because they understand.  They then return to the yards.

Weaner training is nearly a full time job because of the amount of time and care we take in their education.  It is a good behaviour reward system that we use, and it works well for them.  A calm animal that exhibits the traits we are looking for, is also going to be a better quality eating experience.  Stress makes the animal develop tighter cross linkages in the meat fibres, resulting in tougher meat.  By teaching our weaners the way we do, we are ensuring they are less likely to be stressed as they meet these situations in their future.

After they pass their training, they all end up at Kimberley.  Most of them are bred at Carpentaria, in North QLD, so they take a trip on a road train to their new home in Central QLD.

Join us again next week as we continue the journey!

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The Life Of A Feeder Steer – Part 1

 

Ask any grazier, rancher or cattleman in the world, and he will tell you that his livestock are his top priority.   Here at Signature Beef, we are no different.  Cattle are our livelihood, and we genuinely love them.  Keep this a secret from the herd, but we do have favourites.  Dad’s is B-11, a beautiful Angus cow who has delivered exceptional calves year on year for nearly a decade.  Growing up on the land ingrains a love for these animals, however you also learn the circle of life and its importance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a calf, a feeder steer spends his days with mum.  Valuable information is passed on from generation to generation.  Plants that are ok to eat, and plants that are not ok to eat.  How to spot a predator or threat, and respond accordingly.  Whether or not that car driving past is actually terrifying. Young bulls watch the older bulls to learn how to fight, then spar with each other before attempting to beat the older bulls.  Calves learn from their mothers how to act through example.   Cattle are incredibly reflective of their mothers and the environment they are raised in.

Calves experience humans from their early days, they see us as we check the waters and fences of their paddocks.  And they see us in the branding muster, when they are moved, with their mothers, to stockyards to be branded.  This allows them to be identified for the remainder of their lives.  They also receive a tetanus shot to keep them healthy.  They then return to their paddock, normally within 24 hours.

When the mother decides she is ready to have her next calf and has sufficiently looked after her current calf, she will naturally wean it.  By this stage, the calf is able to look after itself, and we begin the weaning muster.

Join us next week for the next instalment in The Life of a Feeder Steer!

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Bulls for Sale!

For years we have been selecting a handful of exceptional bull calves to keep as herd bulls for our cows.  Combined with the genetics we bring in from Dulverton Angus at Glenn Innes, this has led to a domino effect of more and more exceptional bull calves.  We find ourselves now in a position where we have quite a large surplus of these young herd bulls – so we are selling them!  They are currently located at Kimberley, our home property, 60km north west of Moranbah in Central QLD.

The bulls are out of Angus/Belmont Red composite cows, with sires that are either purebred Angus or Angus/Belmont Red composite.  The bulls are 2 years of age, bred on our home property of Kimberley, as well as our northern property of Carpentaria Downs, located at Einsleigh.  They have demonstrated durability in central and north Queensland climates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We want bulls that can consistently produce offspring that will maintain the quality of beef our customers know and love.  The bulls are all kept for their body shape, temperament, fineness of hair and masculinity.  We have found a consistent correlation between the fineness of an animal’s coat and the fineness of texture found in that animal’s meat.  Because of this, we don’t keep coarse haired bulls.  Their body shape is essential in ensuring they will pass along a well balanced steer or heifer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Their brothers and sisters make up the high quality meat we consistently supply around the globe, into approximately 30 countries.  Feel free to check out our blog further (www.signaturebeef.com.au/blog) to see more about our meat and our performance history in carcass competitions.  Over 90% of our cattle routinely fall into MSA boning groups 1-6 when graded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fertility is certainly a focus for us.  All of our breeding cows need to produce a calf every year to stay in the herd.  The sisters of these bulls are producing year on year at Carpentaria Downs.  These are 100% Bos Taurus bulls that are bred to perform in the north.

Contact Blair or Josie for further information, or to arrange an inspection.

Email: info@signaturebeef.com.au

Phone: H: (07)49 835 309    M: 0427 835 309

 

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WHEN THE RAIN COMES…

 

The magic of a breaking drought is like no other.  The sound of rain on the roof brings relief and joy beyond measure to those who depend on this liquid gold.  When a good fall does come, it can bring out the strangest behaviour, occasionally resulting in grown adults rolling around in the mud!

Every year we depend on the rain to bring life back into the grasses, refresh the groundwater, and fill our dams.  The “wet” season, as we call it, is typically December to March.  Here at Kimberley, our average rainfall is 23 inches/year, mostly falling in the wet, with some in the middle of the year too if its a good year.

In 2015, Kimberley got only 10 inches for the year, resulting in some tough times for us.  Not to complain, because we were by no means the worst off compared to other parts of the country.  However, 2016 has brought high hopes and good spirits with a couple of beautiful storms rolling over us in the last week or so.

Now the grass is green…

Dams that were dry have filled…

The cattle are happy…

The horses are rolling in the mud…

And for now, our little corner of the world is good again.

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“I Have An Idea”

There are many afternoons that Dad will come strolling into the house after a day in the paddock and announce

“I have an idea”.

I happened to have my camera handy the last time this occurred, and I thought I would document the process of his latest creation, featuring this little gem – the Oyster Blade.

The Oyster Blade has many a claim to fame, including the second tenderest muscle on the beef carcass, one of the first and most intensely marbled cuts, and the primal cut for America’s famous flat iron steak.

As it sits before you, the oyster blade cut features two layers of tender, marbled muscles, with a seam of collagen between them. This allows the functional shoulder action we see in a live cow, while minimising the effort required by the muscle, attributing to its fine and tender muscle fibres.

Our American friends take a knife and fillet the two muscles from either side of the seam of collagen, however due to its shape, too much red meat is lost in this process for our liking.  Here at Signature, we believe in maximising yield to maximise customer value, which inspired Blair  to find a way for you to enjoy this beautiful cut, collagen included.  Collagen, much the same as meat fibre, is more soluble from young animals receiving optimum nutrition, resulting in less cross linkages, eliminating the risk of being chewy.

Now back to the cutting board.

Firstly, Blair cut the meat in half through the seam of collagen in the middle.  He is not trimming it though, simply making the piece easier to handle.

Next he scored the fat and collagen, cutting just through the layer, on both sides.  The purpose of this is to break up the fat and collagen layer to allow the heat to penetrate whilst cooking   Only the fat and collagen need to be scored, and not too much of the surrounding red meat.

With a quick covering of salt and pepper, each side is sealed in a pan.

You can either continue to cook them in a pan, on a grill, or in an oven on a rack.  This time, Blair chose to continue them on the BBQ plate, much the same as he would cook a large steak.

His last trick is that you don’t forget the sides.  By standing the two pieces up and either holding them gently or leaning them on each other, you can seal the sides and even out the cooking  process.


After the meat is cooked, allow it to rest for approximately 30 minutes before carving.  We chose to serve it with a simple red wine risotto, but feel free to get creative!

We look forward to hearing about your endeavours!

Share using #signaturebeef!

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