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Succulent and meltingly tender, pulled brisket is the stuff of Texas barbecue legends. We make ours with NZ beef brisket, infused with flavour by tumbling in our Texan-style blend of spices and cooked so the meat's full of spicy flavour. Simply heat, then shred the hot, sauce-covered meat into succulent chunks and serve.
From our kitchen, to yours.
Upon seeing the Artisano Heat 'N' Eat meats up for review I was really interested in trying them out. I loved the idea of having these on hand in the fridge for those nights where I'm running low on time and need something quick and easy to prepare, after all these do look a lot more better for you and better priced than stopping for takeaways on my way home from work.
The ready to pull NZ beef comes in a very aesthetically pleasing box, which shows pictures of burgers which have been made using the beef. With my partner being a meat eater he was excited to see me come home with this product, and we decided to try it out for dinner. After reading the back of the box I was amazed at how easy this was to prepare, with instructions for both using the microwave and oven. On this occasion I decided to use the microwave which was ridiculously simple. I snipped along the plastic packaging (there was a pull strip however this wasn't seeming to be very to easy to use so I opted to use scissors) and poured half of the beef into a microwave proof bowl. I heated this for 2 and a half minutes and then removed it from the microwave turned the meat over and basted it with the sauce, before putting it back in the microwave for a further 2 minutes. Once heated through I pulled it apart using 2 forks until it was nicely shredded, it couldn't have been simpler.
With the first lot of beef I decided to make a simple meal of nacho's with the beef in place of my usual mince, I layered some corn chips onto each of my family's plates and then mixed some chilli beans in with the pulled beef, which I placed on top of the chips, before topping this off with some grated cheese and sour cream. The results delicious, with my partner commenting that the beef was better than our usual mince mixture. The flavour of the beef prior to adding the chilli beans I felt was a touch spicy which id expect due to this having a texan style flavouring to it, however it went well with the beans and it wasn't to hot for my family to handle.
With the remaining beef, I again used the microwave for a quick meal. My partner works night shift and so on these nights he takes dinner along to work with him, though often tells me that his meals don't heat very well. I decided to turn the rest of the beef into a cottage pie, so using the above microwave instructions I cooked the beef and added it to some gravy along with some frozen mixed vegetables I placed this into a dish and topped it with some mashed potato and sprinkled it with some of the Havarti cheese I had in the fridge. I saved part of this for dinner for Miss 4 and myself and sent the rest to work with my partner, he rang me while he was eating it to tell me it was one of the best reheated dinners he had had since starting his job, and asked me to purchase the meat again. Miss 4 and I also enjoyed this and quickly finished off our meals.
This is a great product and 1 I would certainly like to have a box of in my fridge, so quick and easy to prepare, heats well and I can think of so many ways in which this could be used.
Five of us decided to test this dish together so that we would get a range of responses. Because I had never cooked this type of meal before, I decided to follow the instructions exactly so we baked it for 20 minutes and then basted it with the juices before serving. The suggestions on the packet included serving it with burger buns or tacos so we thought we would combine it with some sandwich thins and a green salad.
We had expected that it would be too hot for the children, but despite the "Texan-style spices" it was not very spicy after all, and they liked it just as much as the adults did. If anything, it had a sweetish, smoky flavour which the children both enjoyed. It was also satisfyingly juicy without being too runny. However, the adults thought it would be better with a little more spice; my daughter added a shake of hickory smoke sauce to hers and said she preferred it that way.
The packet has a see-through window so you can see the contents clearly before opening it. We did notice that there were white flecks through the meat mixture, and wondered whether it might be the spice mixture as the flecks melted in once the meat was heated through. The heating process could not have been easier, and the meal was on our plates exactly 21 minutes after we started.
My daughter said she likes the idea of having a packet or two of this in the fridge when she is travelling. As she said, it is often hard to gauge exactly how much meat to buy when you are on holiday and the nearest shops are some distance away. Having a precooked meat dish like this means you can decide to have it when it suits rather than because it is fresh and needs using up!
The packet says it is enough for three or four people. We found that two packets were enough for three adults and two children with enough left over for a sandwich next day, Beef brisket is not something we would normally buy as it takes a long time to cook and it is almost impossible to get it to the right degree of tenderness. But this product succeeds - the meat is beautifully tender and full of flavour. It also contains 46% of an adult's daily protein allowance when measured over four servings per pack, an important point when you are feeding growing children.
The price might be a deterrent for some people, but when you factor in the cooking time saved and the number of people it serves, it is not so bad - it works out at about the same pricewise as a pork chop apiece or a serving of white fish, so that puts it into perspective.
After my first bite, I wanted so badly wanted to just throw the whole packet into a large bowl, heat it up, and scoff it down as-is. There you go, the short version. But, if you feel you need to know more to convince you that this is a product you are going to love using... here goes...
I wanted to give this a real test, so planned three meals for this - the first being a simple omelette with cheese and spring onions. Nothing fancy... OK, I used Barry's Bay Havarti with Wakame Kelp Flakes as the cheese, but that was a flavour I knew wouldn't compete with the beef at all, simply adorn it with added layers. Still, this turned out to be far better than I had hoped! The packet had two big chunks of tender-cooked beef, which was simple enough to break down into three roughly-equal portions, the smallest of which was used in this dish.
I popped it, and a very minimal portion of the sauce, into a bowl, covered it to prevent splattering in the microwave, and cooked it at 50% power for 90 seconds - enough to bring it to 65 degrees for a few seconds before it started to cool again. A further 20 seconds at full power when the egg was ready, cheese and spring onions added, meat added... and fold, serve, taste! Couldn't have been simpler to prepare. As you can see from the photo... I should have used three eggs not two, or used a smaller pan, because the omelette was way too thin to survive without tearing, but is still tasted pretty amazing, that's for sure.
Normally in omelettes, I add a fair bit of seasoning - I'm no fan of bland food - but the meat sauce, lifted a little further by the cheese and spring onions, was enough to give me a really tasty range of layers to the flavour, and I found it very satisfying both hunger and taste wise.When hot, the beef just fell apart, was tender and succulent, and so easy to eat... which is remarkable after being microwaved.
The second meal I tried was simply the beef, on rice, using more of the sauce to flavour the rice itself. This was another success, but not quite as flavourful - the meat sauce is wonderful, but not enough to carry off a dish as the sole flavouring agent. the third dish was the beef with some home-made spicy wedges and a little chilli added to the meat sauce. This added some extra thickness to the sauce, making it stick more to the beef and wedges, and the spicy wedges had enough extra zing to carry off the meal as a whole.
Overall, I was really impressed, and my only negative thought was "why the heck doesn't my slow-cooked beef come out as well as this?!" - which is hardly a flaw in this product. The price may be a little steep for the budget-conscious amongst you, but for a sure-fire treat as part of a special meal, that will save you stress and a lot of time... this is an excellent option to consider. Look for it in quality retail outlets later this month once it gets more widely established.
As with the "Beef Blade Steak" variety, the packaging for the "Ready to Pull NZ Beef" is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, and provides ideas on how to use the product. Again it comes with a hole in the back of the box so you can physically see and feel the product. Direction-wise this product is very similar, in that you cover it, heat it, and eat it, the only real difference being that you heat for 20 minutes instead of 15 minutes in the oven ( or 4.5 minutes rather than 2.5 minutes in the microwave).
With this product I was more impatient than usual (had a long day stuck in traffic, so I wanted a large meal ready in under 10 minutes. So this time I used the microwave. Placing the meat in a pyrex container (again, I needed to use scissors to cut the meat out of the plastic vacuum sealed package in the box), I covered it, and threw it in the microwave to heat. While it heated, I chucked some corn chips in an oven dish, topped with grated cheese and threw it in the oven. Once, the meat had finished it's first run, I heated some tinned hot chilli beans, while I mixed and basted the meat. I put the meat through it's final two minutes, before combining it with the chilli beans, and a couple teaspoons of Culley's chilli sauce. Chuck the mix in the corn chips, top with more grated cheese and after a quick melt in the oven, I had a family meals worth of basic nachos.
Before I combined the beef with the chilli beans, I obviously needed to pull it apart to bet the "pulled beef" effect. Interestingly the beef brisket held together better than the blade steak did, and took a little bit of effort to separate fully. Nothing difficult, but just something noticeable. Perhaps it was slightly unevenly cooked due to being done in a microwave, rather than the oven? Much like the blade steak, there was a fair amount of juices after it was cooked, but shredding/pulling the beef apart, the juices were soon absorbed again, and the meat was very moist. The meat was tasty, but a little bland when compared to the rich flavours of the bourbon marinated blade steaks with bbq sauce, but the addition of the Culley's Chilli sauce gave it a nice kick.
Even when pulled apart the meat did well to hold itself together, so forks were needed to load up my cornchips. They were juicy, but somehow less messy than when I make it with mince. so that was a plus too. The consistency makes it easy to see how well it would work on pizzas, burgers, and tacos. and could be an good choice for when entertaining guests.
As with the other products, as I am a large man and ate the "family sized" serving all on my own in one sitting, $18 for the meat of one meal, is out of my price range for something I would eat regularly. As a treat once in a while, definitely, or once I lose weight and cut down my portion sizes perhaps. But as it is, the value for money isn't as high for an overweight single male, as it would be for a family that uses moderation when they eat.
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