Paul Casserly 's Opinion

Paul Casserly watched too much TV as a child.

Paul Casserly: Fun with meat

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Paul Casserly gets distracted by meat man Anthony Puharich.
Ask the Butcher host, Anthony Puharich.
Ask the Butcher host, Anthony Puharich.

I was going to bang on about the new slew of top notch shows on Soho that have just got underway with season two of Banshee (Monday's 8.30pm) True Detective (Tuesdays 8.30pm) and Lena Dunham's third instalment of Girls (Thursdays 8.30pm) but I have been distracted by meat.

I realise that this has happened to me all my life and includes one of my earliest memories. It was an event that occurred in Kirwan's Butchery in Onehunga. A mere babe in arms, I recall the pleasure chest that was unlocked when the man in white passed me that log of compressed pig inners encased in a red condom that some call 'little boys'.

Meat has been with me ever since, especially at this time of year when leftover sausages fill the fridge. Naturally this meant that coming across a listing for a show called Ask The Butcher (Choice TV, Thursday, 8.05pm) would distract me from the task in hand.

Meat. Who doesn't love it? Well I'm not sure that Miriama Kamo does but I could be wrong.

She may be a pescetarian. I make this seemingly insane call after watching an item on One News about an NFL player who has a burger named after him that comes complete with, "two beef patties, bacon, cheddar cheese, onion rings, slices of ham, red onion, lettuce and tomato. With a side of fries. And a bag of Skittles."

It's known as "The Beast Burger" and is a tribute to running back Marshawn Lynch. "That's wrong on so many levels" Miriama grimaced to a smiling Jack Tame, making me wonder if she's a vegan or just an anti-obesity campaigner.

More obviously a vegetarian is Guyon Espiner whose BBQing skills gave him away last year on 3rd Degree as he manned the grill for Shane Jones, who was understandably reluctant to be filmed handling sausages.

For those who have no beef with consuming cow and for those fine with swine, Ask the Butcher is a godsend. Episode one concerned itself with beef with a promise to share tips on hacking it up, cooking it and telling us everything we wanted to know but were afraid to ask.

The host is a cheerful and slightly criminal looking dude - in an Underbelly kind of way - who introduces himself thus: "Hi I'm Anthony, son of legendary butcher Victor Puharich." According to Beefcentral.com, Anthony's dad's butcher shop in Woollahra is the best in the world and a favourite of Oprah.

Being an Australian show - although a visit to NZ via venison is promised in a future episode - we are also given a Country Calender-esqe tour of the lucky country's top farming spots. North Tasmania is the first stop and the home of grass-fed beef on account of its incessant rain.

"This is as much about farming grass as it is cattle" says the Tassie cocky as we're shown lush green vegetation being harvested by the delicious looking beasts. "Some even say the air quality as well as the salt from the sea gives the meat its own seasoning" says Anthony, adding his own sizzle to the steak.

Still I learnt plenty. Grain-fed is whiter and fattier and grass-fed is way leaner. But both have their own aspects of deliciousness. And don't be upset by the fat in the grain-fed varieties - apparently "it's good fat". I'm not sure why that is but I have clung to it in the same way I have clung to the words, "Red wine is good for you".

Also, though grass-fed is "clean and singular" it's not necessarily better than grain-fed, which is "creamier with a rich flavour".

From the sodden grasslands of Tasmania we were taken up northwest to NSW to a grain-fed beef farmer with a herd of beautiful Black Angus for more myth busting.

"What's misunderstood about grain feeding is that the majority of time is spent on the grass. They spend 400 days on grass then 300 on grain for the marbling."

Elsewhere the show is a delightful medley of celebrity chefs sharing meaty tips and some quality time watching Anthony "son of legendary butcher Victor" Puharich joyfully hacking up carcasses, and saying things like, "I'm getting really excited now the tenderloin is coming off the bone".

The cooking tips are well bullet pointed: "Room temperature before you cook the steak. Oil the steak not the grill. Season with salt only. Cook until medium rare. Let it rest for half the cooking time."

I kind of knew these things but was surprised to learn that seasoning with pepper is a big no, no. "It's a flavour not a seasoning and it can turn toxic on the grill."

I was also learnt that "anything cooked on the bone tastes better" as a lippy Irishman I'd seen on Masterchef prepared an amazing looking dish with brisket. My mouth was watering and I'd just had dinner.

As the T-shirt says, "Meat is murder. Tasty, tasty murder."

his week's episode is all about lamb.

* Ask The Butcher (Choice TV, Thursdays 8.05pm)

Paul Casserly

Paul Casserly watched too much TV as a child.

It began with Dr Who, in black and white, when it was actually scary. The addiction took hold with Chips, in colour. He made his mum knit a Starsky and Hutch cardigan. Later, Twin Peaks would blow what was left of his mind. He’s been working in radio and TV since the 1990s and has an award in his pool room for Eating Media Lunch.

Read more by Paul Casserly

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