We Asked Top Aussie Butchers For Their Tips on Doing Christmas Meat Differently (and Deliciously)
Recommendations on how to properly pig out according to the ones who know best.
It truly is the greatest time of the year to eat. From towering grazing platters to prawn cocktails and unnecessary cheese courses at every meal, this is where you can really pull the rip cord and unleash your BES (Best Eating Self). But let's face it, tis the season for eating meat (with apologies to our plant-based friends). And while it's hard to beat the enduring festive classics like a gleaming glazed ham dotted with cloves or the once-a-year visit to turkey town, Christmas is also a great time for doing things differently so they feel special — and your third and fourth helpings are really well-earned.
In this quest for memorable Christmas meat feasts, we turned to the experts. The carnivore whisperers. The ones behind the slabs representing that great trade that will never die.
We asked the butchers.
DARREN O'ROURKE - VIC'S MEATS, NSW
"When it comes to something new as the showstopper on your festive table, in my world it's all a fantastic cut of meat. If I have the energy after the madness leading up to it, I would try a milk-poached pork neck in a bread sauce (pork neck is really versatile and where a scotch fillet steaks comes from), a slow-cooked lamb leg with a whiskey and pepper berry glaze or whole roast beef tri-tip with salsa verde as that centrepiece. And you can't forget the greens, of course."
Here is Darren's beautiful collection of recommended sides:
Brined and roasted whole cauliflower, anchovy and thyme beurre noisette
Broccolini, kale and green beans, lemon vinaigrette
Iceberg lettuce (yes iceberg lettuce!), eschallots, green olives and chardonnay vinaigrette
Roast potatoes and fried caper berries and chilli
Raw vegetables, bagna cauda
LUKE LEYSON - GOODWOOD QUALITY MEATS, SA
"Starter — Sausage rolls should be front of mind when thinking of Australian Christmas starters. To start with, you want to grab some English pork sausage meat from your local butcher. If they don't sell it separately, just remove the skins of their pork sausages (they won't be offended). Add some Christmassy flavours, such as sage and macadamia nuts, and these beauties can be prepared before the big day so you can pop them into the oven on Christmas, hassle-free."
"Main course — For me, Christmas is about two things: being organised and pork (I could fit family in there somewhere, but I'm happy with my decision). This Christmas Eve, or Beermas as we call it in our family, I am slow-cooking a Boston Butt for pulled pork for the big day so all I need to do is re-heat and eat. Two things, amazingly delicious and you can use your favourite ham glaze on this whilst smoking to add a bit of Christmas spirit. Wraps, burgers, sliders, or part of a salad; pulled pork is very versatile."
"Glazed ham – If you love your Australian ham and want to take your relationship with it to the next level, you need to be glazing your ham. Peel the skin off, score the fat, heat up the ham in your oven or BBQ and lather that good flavour of an amazing glaze over the top. Normally, I would go anything sweet and citrussy as my go-to but this year calls for Australian Pork's newest glaze recipe Spiced Coffee, Maple Syrup and Bacon Glaze. After all the work involved during the Christmas Week rush, us butchers will need the extra caffeine to get us through the day."
ANDREW VOURVAHAKIS - ANDREW'S CHOICE, VIC
"There is something really comforting about a meal centred around a roast. It's about so much more than putting food on a plate as it seems to somehow capture a theatrical element of cooking and eating whilst honouring the cook who has infused the meal with their very own meraki. We strongly believe food is a celebration and we aim recreate flavours that transport you back to time spent around the family table."
"This Christmas you can't go past an Italian favourite: the porchetta. A noble dish that usually takes centre stage of family feasts around the festive season. There is a certain opulence reminiscent of Medieval banquets, sans the wild boar with an apple stuffed into its mouth. At Andrew's Choice our St. Andrews Roast Porchetta is made using the finest Australian pork loins that are hand rolled and seasoned with a traditional spice blend of garlic, rosemary and a hint of chilli, before it is tied and slowly roasted to perfection."
ALASTAIR STEVENSON - GILLY'S SMALLGOODS, QLD
"I think a rolled collar butt with some sweet glaze would be a great roasting option, obviously the loin is very popular but I think the collar butt is perfect with the marbling through the meat. At Gilly's we also produce mini portion hams utilising the primal cuts in the leg but I don't think you can beat the traditional bone-in leg ham … it is Christmas!"
Alastair is right: it is Christmas. So whether you're sticking with a classic leg of ham, going all-out on slow-cooked lamb and homemade sausage rolls, or saying 'screw you, meat, I'm barbecuing a whole fish!', we salute you and wish you the warmest tidings for the festive season. Happy beermas, everyone.
Main image: Darren O'Rourke (L) and Luke Leyson (R),
Published on December 23, 2021 by Suz Tucker