Cooking class: Beef at its best

Buying good meat doesn’t come cheap, so it is important to learn how to cook it just right.

Steak (photo credit: Liron Almog)
(photo credit: Liron Almog)
Born to a family of butchers from Casablanca, Morocco, Guy Peretz took his knowledge a step further and became chef and owner of a few successful restaurants, as well as a catering business.
His cuisine is very much influenced by the North African Jewish traditional cuisine, to which he brings his knowledge of the gourmet cuisine acquired from his extensive experience of cooking and studying with top chefs and a number of culinary institutions around the world.
In his third recipe book, Sefer Habasar (The Book of Meat), the 34-year-old Peretz returns to the family trade – meat. He brings his understanding of handling meat and getting the best results. The recipes in the book are all influenced by his cuisine, using olive oil, thyme, garlic, root vegetables and, of course, good meat.
Here are a few of the chef’s recipes from his book.
This recipe is for a real French-style beef steak, which should always be prepared in a skillet and not on the grill. Searing the meat on a very hot skillet locks the juices inside, resulting in a perfect, succulent piece of meat. Ask your butcher to cut thick slices. Thinly sliced steaks tend to dry out easily. If you prefer to eat less, prepare one thick steak and share it with someone or eat only half.
✔ 2 steaks, 300 gr. each. Choose aged marbled entrecote. Ask the butcher to cut from the middle of the entrecote.✔ 1 Tbsp. olive oil ✔ 1 Tbsp. goose fat ✔ 2 sprigs thyme ✔ 4 garlic cloves with the peel (use roasted confit cloves if you have them) ✔ Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper ✔ 1⁄2 cup red wine
Before cooking the meat, make sure it is at room temperature. The shock of being transferred from a very cold temperature to very hot may cause the meat to toughen.
Heat a heavy skillet. Add oil and fat. Fry the thyme for a few minutes and put aside.
Meanwhile, rub the steaks with oil, massaging them a little and season with salt and pepper.
Place steaks on the hot skillet and cook for about 11⁄2 minutes until upper side of the meat “sweats.” Turn them over and cook on the other side until done to desired degree. Just before removing from the heat, pour wine into the skillet. The wine absorbs all the juices and flavors that accumulated in the skillet. Pour the wine gravy on the steak and serve.BASIC POT ROAST
The easiest way to prepare a family roast is to cook it with aromatic vegetables, slice, arrange on a heat-proof baking sheet and finish in the oven with your favorite gravy.
✔ A shoulder of beef ✔ 1 Tbsp. oil ✔ 1 large onion, quartered ✔ 4 stalks celery, cut into chunks ✔ 1 carrot, peeled and cut into chunks ✔ 1 leek, white part only, washed and cut into 3 or 4 pieces ✔ 4 cloves, with the peel ✔ 4 bay leaves ✔ 1 tsp. allspice
Heat oil in a heavy pot and sear meat on all sides until browned. Add cut vegetables and spices and continue frying for 5 more minutes. Pour in enough boiling water to cover, and cook for 1 hour or until meat is almost tender. Remove meat from the pot and let it cool on a cutting board. Strain the cooking liquids and reserve.
When cooled, slice meat into 1-cm. thick slices and arrange on a baking sheet.
Pour your favorite sauce – mushroom, wine, root vegetables or any other sauce – on the sliced meat and bake in a 180º oven for 30 minutes.
Prepare the sauce using the juices left from cooking the meat.
FESTIVE EGGPLANT AND MEAT BAKE Makes 4 This North African-inspired dish of ground meat baked with eggplant, roasted almonds and spicy tomato sauce is prepared in individual dishes and served on special occasions.
✔ 3 eggplants, sliced lengthwise into 4-mm. thick slices, with the peel ✔ 1⁄2 cup olive oil ✔ Salt and black pepper ✔ 2 tomatoes, sliced into 1-cm thick slices
Filling: ✔ 400 gr. ground beef ✔ 3 Tbsp. olive oil ✔ 1 onion, chopped ✔ 4 cloves garlic, chopped ✔ 4 celery stalks, chopped ✔ 1⁄2 cup coriander leaves, chopped ✔ 4 Tbsp. almonds, sliced and lightly roasted ✔ Salt and black pepper ✔ 1⁄2 tsp. baharat (spice mix)
Sauce: ✔ 1 onion, chopped ✔ 1 Tbsp. olive oil ✔ 4 cloves garlic, chopped ✔ 2 celery stalks, chopped ✔ 4 tomatoes, sliced ✔ 1 Tbsp. tomato puree ✔ Salt and black pepper
Heat oven to 180º.
Brush the eggplant slices with oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake the eggplant slices on a lined baking sheet for 6 to 10 minutes until golden in color and tender.
Grease 4 individual baking pans (you can use disposable ones), and line with the eggplant slices, leaving half of each slice hanging out – to be used as a cover after filling. Set aside.
To prepare filling: Fry the onion in olive oil, add garlic and celery, add the meat and crumble with fork. When the color of the meat changes, add the rest of the ingredients and cook for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat. Fill each dish with a generous amount of the meat mixture, pressing it a little. Place a tomato slice on top and cover with the remaining eggplant slices.
Place on a baking sheet and bake in a 180º oven for 10 minutes.
To prepare sauce: Fry the onion, add the garlic and celery. When cooked a little, add the tomatoes and continue cooking 2 more minutes. Add the tomato puree and season to taste. Add 1 cup of water, mix and cook for 10-12 minutes or until sauce thickens.
To serve: Place a ladle of the sauce in the middle of each plate, turn and release one baked eggplant onto each plate.MOROCCAN-STYLE HAMBURGER Makes 2
Peretz has created his own hamburger, which is inspired by the the North African cuisine he grew up on. The meat is spiced with ras el hanout, a spice mix typical to Eastern cuisines, and served with Moroccan bread.
For the burgers: ✔ 400 gr. coarsely ground beef. Ask the butcher for thin ribs, known in Israel as shpondra, or cut No. 9.✔ 2 onions, chopped and fried ✔ 1 Tbsp. ras el hanout spice mix ✔ 4 Tbsp. coriander leaves, chopped ✔ 1 Tbsp. coriander seeds, ground ✔ 2 Tbsp. arisa (Moroccan hot sauce)
For serving: ✔ 2 Moroccan breads (panera) or other bread ✔ 2 grilled tomatoes, peeled ✔ 2 chilies, grilled ✔ 2 Tbsp. garlic confit ✔ 2 Tbsp. olive oil ✔ 1 bunch coriander, leaves only
Mix together all the burger ingredients and form into two equal-sizes patties. If you have rings, use a 10 cm. one to shape the patties. Cool in the refrigerator for 2 hours. While the meat is cooling in the refrigerator, grill the tomatoes and chilies and peel them.
Grill the burgers on an open grill or in a heavy griddle pan.
Warm the bread and place on the plates.
Place grilled burgers on the bread and top with grilled vegetables. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and drizzle with a little olive oil.
Note: Make sure the meat patties are flat and the burger is the same thickness throughout so that it cooks evenly. This is especially important when cooking in a frying pan.
Recipes and photos courtesy of Korim Publishing House and chef Guy Peretz of Confit Haifa and Gazpacho Ashkelon.
The cookbook is available in bookstores around the country. NIS 98