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Beef & Bourbon; a flavour match made in heaven and a true taste of the deep American south. Our NZ Beef Blade Steak has been marinated in Bourbon flavoured seasoning to infuse the deep, rich flavours, then cooked for melt-in-your-mouth tenderness. Simply heat, then pour over our sweet and sticky barbecue glaze and serve.
From our kitchen to yours.
I needed something quick for dinner the other night, and I also wanted it to be finger-food so I could keep working while I ate, and not make a mess of the keyboard. Remembering I still had some mini tortilla cups in the pantry, and this steak still needed to be reviewed, I thought I would try making micro-burritos. Turned out to be a pretty good experiment in the end.
Popping some of the meat and sauce into a microwave-safe bowl, along with some leftover pre-cooked kidney beans and brown rice from the fridge, I nuked them on 50% power for about 5 minutes, gave a stir, then again at 50% power for another 3 minutes. I didn't want to do it too fast and stress the meat out - because of sensitive teeth, I wanted that steak to stay as tender as possible.
Once it was heated, I dropped heaped-tablespoons of the mix into the tortilla cups, topped with a little drizzle of the BBQ sauce - which comes in a separate pouch so you can adjust the amount you have to suit your tastes - and then dropped a bit of cheese on top of each cup. 30 seconds in the microwave to melt the cheese, and my meal was ready.
These were very tasty indeed, and I experimented with enhancing the flavour on a few of them with a little drizzle of hot pepper sauce, which really just amped them up into amazing, as far as I am concerned. A very authentic Mexican flavour and texture, but made in a small fraction of the time it would have taken if I had to cook the meat myself.
Overall, this is the way to get slow-cooked meat if you don't have a slow-cooker, or like me, yours doesn't understand "slow" at all. The steak is amazingly tender and falls apart with almost no pressure. Leaving it to sit and soak up the juices is vital if you want to avoid dry, stringy meat... but that would be the time to add the BBQ sauce so that some of it goes into the meat as well. I find the price a little steep at first glance, but when you factor in the cost of the meat, and the power to cook it at home, plus the huge time-saving... it's actually very fair and will provide you enough meat to serve 2 hungry adults, or a family of four if you bulk it out with veges and rice or pasta.
The packet said it would serve four people, but we thought that a better estimate would be three. We had two packets shared among three adults and two fairly hungry children, and found that there was only a small amount left over. We had served it with a chickpea salad and chips; without the salad, it might not have stretched so far.
I was taken by the idea that it was marinated in a bourbon seasoning. I have tried several products lately with this flavour combination, and have enjoyed them all. Bourbon gives a lovely rich, slightly spicy flavour to meat which is perfect with barbecue cooking. I also liked the idea of having a separate sauce sachet so it could be added to suit individual tastes.
Cooking was straightforward (we used an oven rather than a microwave) although we found the mixture becoming a little dry as it cooked, even though we had covered the dish, so we added a little water so it would not lose its tenderness. When it was ready, we got everyone to taste it, and ended up adding the whole sachet as without it the flavour was not strong enough. Even after it was all stirred through, my daughter thought it could do with some more barbecue sauce so she added some to her own plate. For the children, the flavour was just right - not too spicy, and juicy enough for them to dip their chips into!
It was interesting that the product is described as steaks because it separated into long strings once it was cooked. This did not affect the flavour, but it made it look more like a dish of noodles than one of steak pieces. We chose to serve it with chips because that was the image used on the package outer, and that proved to be a good combination. It needs some kind of carbohydrate to accompany it as it would be otherwise too rich. It would go equally well with mashed potato, rice, noodles, or a fancy bread like naan or pita pockets.
My daughter said she intends to try it stirred through the salad next time rather than served up on the plate beside it. She thought it would make it go further so that one packet would then stretch to five or even six people, and warm salads are rather nice on a cold day. She showed us what she meant by stirring some of her own helping into the chickpea salad beside it, and I admit it looked very tasty.
We did not find it was quite as tender as we had expected. Possibly we could have cooked it a bit longer, or added more water at the start. However, it did look nice when served up as the meat had an attractive dark glaze on it and the aroma was delicious!
Looking at the packaging, it is beautiful. A simple stone grey background that makes the colours of the food on the front pop right out. Black "labels" with white print, makes it very easy to read, and has all the important info on the front (it mentions the 15 minute cooking time in the oven, which was a smart choice, as the microwave time is only two and a half minutes, and you wouldn't want to get people confused thinking it could be cooked in only 2.5 minutes in the oven. Best that they went with the longest time). As well, the rear of the packaging has a hole in the back so you can see the actual product inside as the cardboard box is obviuosly not see through.
Opening the box, the blade steaks came it what appears to be a thick vacuum packed plastic package. Good for keeping the product fresh for longer (the one I had had a best before date well over a month away), but wasn't the easiest to get into. the side of the package did have cuts in it to make it easier to tear, but the tears didn't actually break the seal. I ended up using scissors to get it open. No big deal really.
Now I've never been a huge fan of the smell of butchers. So the smell of raw meat I guess isn't that appealing. While the meat isn't raw by any measure, I still was not a fan of the smell when it came out of the packet, and it did make me question how it was going to end up.
I double lined an oven dish with aluminium foil, added the meat, and covered with more foil, popping it into my preheated oven. I didn't add any oil, and was interested in what juices I'd be basting the meat with later, as there didn't look to be much to start with. Leaving the meat in the oven, it wasn't long before I noticed the unappealing smell had gone, and was replaced by something absolutely tantalising aroma that almost had me visibly drooling. It was a challenge to not open the oven and try taste it early. Removing the steak from the oven, I saw there was in fact a lot of liquid with which to baste the meat with (I did have to look up the definition of baste just in case, and yes it just involved pouring the juices over the meat to keep it moist).
When it came to putting the meat onto the plate, I ran across some difficulties. "Slow cooked to tenderness" is the phrase on the box, and that was clearly no exaggeration. Trying to pick it up with a fork failed time and time again, as the meat fell apart. The only way I could maintain any form of shape was by using a spatula to get underneath and support the weight of it. So I would struggle to call it an actual steak, as my definition of steak is a solid complete piece of meat. This had much more of a consistency of pulled beef. But that is just semantics.
I made a simple meal of "steak" and wedges. With the meat on the plate, I tried some before adding the BBQ finishing glaze to compare, and realistically, both tasted amazing. The meat was succulent and moist, full of flavour, and while it fell apart very quickly, it meant I could eat the entire meal with just a fork. A delicious meal, prepared in under 20 minutes. Ideal.
Now the only problem I have with it is the price. The package say it feeds 4, but weighing in at 480g, that only adds up to 120g each (unless you have kids, then you could increase your own serving by reducing theirs), but I'm a large man, and ate the entire thing myself in one sitting. I didn't have much choice there anyway, because the packet itself says to consume within one day once opened. With average prices of blade steak running around $20 a kilo, that means the 480g meat itself would have been around $10, with $8 worth of work done to it. We are talking hours of slow cooking and sauces added, and the packaging comes into it too, but for the size of the end product (and it only making one meal for me), its too expensive for me personally to make a regular thing of it. Maybe once I lose weight, and am satisfied by smaller meals, then it will work for me.
I will keep an eye on them though, and look out for sales. It was a delicious simple meal, and I'd certainly have it again, budgets willing. Hopefully in the future, they'll have a little bulk pack, where I could buy two or three in the one box, for a slightly lower rate. Definitely would be keen for that.
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