There are some producers at the farmers market, that no matter how good the promise is of quality, I couldn’t justify the purchase. As my pay packet gradually increased in Canberra, I began to make these justifications and there has not been one that I‘ve regretted. Indeed, I have found it relatively easy to justify their ongoing presence in my shopping baskets.
The first of these justifications was to buy my milk from Country Valley Dairy rather than the supermarket. Not only is the milk far more enjoyable to taste, but I now buy cheese and butter from them on occasion. The second was to buy my birds from Thirlmere Poultry rather than Lilydale Chicken. The chickens have a flavour that is so much more chickeny, and now regularly buy duck from her, and occasionally spatchcock or more exciting poultry like guinea fowl.
The last of these justifications was Gilmore Brae’s beef. The beef comes from the most attractive Scottish Highland cattle that have long shaggy coats. The price tag on this beef is much higher than anything else I’ve considered buying. But I was attracted first by the shaggy pile of the cows, hides of which are available for sale at the market stall. When I plucked up the courage to look at the produce, I was even more attracted by the incredible marbling in the meat. At last, I was able to buy a cut when I discovered, after years of searching, that they had some beef cheeks. I cooked those into a heavenly meal. The next week, I went back for a beef shank, that I cooked up into a fabulous Nonna’s pasta sauce. Sticking with the cheaper cuts, I have bought stock bones, mince and incredible short ribs that have all gone down a treat. This week I finally bit the bullet and bought a pair of porterhouse steaks. The marbling through the meat was simply superb and the line of fat across the edge had an incredible buttery colour. They cost a pretty penny, but my word, were they worth it!!!! I cooked them up for dinner this evening.
Because of the beautiful marbling, they needed to be cooked at least medium rare. I merely rubbed a little olive oil on them, and placed them in a pan on medium heat (hot enough to sizzle on contact). The crust they formed on the outside was simply superb. I had some lovely little portabella mushrooms and wanted mushroom sauce with my steak. I sliced up a large handful of mushrooms and browned them off in a generous portion of butter before adding fresh ground black pepper and half a cup each of home-made beef and chicken stock. I simmered down to a syrupy consistency before adding about a tablespoon of cream and simmering again to make a sauce of the desired consistency.
My partner loves pepper sauce with his steak so while the cooked steaks were resting, I put the same quantity of chicken and beef stocks in the steak pan with some freshly ground black pepper, dried Tasmanian Pepperberries and some pink and green peppercorns from brine; and a few drops of Worcestershire sauce. Simmer the hell out of it till thick and syrupy.
Our steaks with pepper (or mushroom) sauce were truly sensational, the caramelisation on the crust, flavour of the fat, tenderness of the meat were unsurpassable. I have paid for some truly incredible steaks at great restaurants (particularly in Sydney), and this was truly incredible. It was well worth paying extra for, because the flavour was far superior to anything else available at the supermarket, or even our great local butcher.