08 January 2007

The Ultimate Meat Platter

I remember a time not so very long ago, when I abstained from meat in my obsession to lose a little weight. Sure, I might not be in ideal shape now, but I'm never going back to avoiding meat ever again. How could I resist something as divine as a simple piece of grilled steak?

Last night, after dinner plans with a friend were cancelled at the eleventh hour, I decided to head home straight from town and cook a proper meal for my family. Somehow, we seldom dine together because of their irregular working hours and much less dine together at home unless I make the effort to get everyone together. By some stroke of luck, every single one of them (I make it sound like I have an army of a family when there are actually only four of us) was at home.

I needed something quick since I was expecting to arrive home a little tardy, but it had to be greatly satisfying. And I badly wanted to break in my cast-iron grillpan with a foldable handle (poke me and I can even give you the reference number of the item). I knew that if I created a dinner of meat, meat and more meat, I would not only make my father and brother happy (not to say that my mum doesn't have her carnivorous side as well), I would also be able to get my brother in on the action without a problem. I saw how his face lit up when I showed him the grillpan and remember how he talked endlessly about creating the perfect piece of grilled steak.

So a huge Meat Platter it was. Four pieces of Pork Loin (marinated in homemade barbeque sauce and grilled), 2 pieces of Beef Striploin (grilled neat, just salt and pepper), 4 Chicken Drumsticks (marinated with island spice, honey and olive oil, seared and roasted) and 2 thick 'Chorizo Sausages' (just sizzled on a pan and sliced up into chunks). Our dinner was huge, especially if you count the cold egg tofu with red lumpfish caviar, and baked mini portobello mushrooms with black truffles, that my brother and I prepared as appetisers. Plus, the slices of multi-grain bread with tomato chilli jam, and my mum's yearly (leftover) Turkey Vegetable Soup.

But the night's gorging was all worth it. The barbeque sauce with cocoa, made using a recipe that I had gotten from one of my long forgotten cookbooks, was well received. As a marinade or as a dip, it is intense and assaults every single one of your tastebuds mercilessly, and is (yet again) amazingly easy to put together. The whole chunks of garlic that were crushed and added to the sauce were delicious straight out of the sauce, and even more so after a little caramelising on a pan until it has attained an almost crispy exterior that gives way to tender flesh.

My brother was in charge of the grilling of the beef and pork loins, naturally. And he treated his meats with utmost gravity. The striploins were dutifully rotated forty five degrees at a quarter of the cooking time, flipped at half-time and rotated again just over 1 minute before they were done (total cooking time was 5 minutes for medium rare, the way my entire family likes it). The pork loins required a slightly longer cooking time and were done to perfection, even though it was his first time. With just a slight blush of pink on the inside, the loins were still moist - better than what I've tried at some restaurants.

Needless to say, my brother was a picture of pride at the dinner table as he sliced into the beef and revealed the textbook example of what medium rare beef should look like. And to my horror, we finished every last piece of meat there was to have on the platters. But to hear my father, the picky eater of the family, sing nothing but praises of the meal, now that was rare. Alas, the way to a man's heart is actually through the Ultimate Meat Platter.

Barbeque Sauce with Cocoa

Enough for 2 kg of meat


4 tbsp cocoa powder, 200ml red wine vinegar, 200 g tomato puree, 8 tbspn honey, 2 tbspn olive oil, 10 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed, chilli powder to taste, 1 tbspn dried oregano, 2 tbspn soy sauce, salt and sugar to taste


Dissolve the cocoa in the vinegar and place in a pan with the rest of the ingredients. Bring to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring, for 20 minutes.

Use it to marinate (marinating time = 2- 24 hours), as a baste for barbecueing or simply as a dipping sauce for barbecued meat or vegetables.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you really got to tell me where all those lovely plates come from!