Mr Vaggelis quickly gets to heart of the matter when talking about meat. He has lost track of how many years he has been a butcher, but he has worked at METRO for five years, ever since he moved to our island from beautiful Crete.
According to him, the key ingredients for a successful Tsiknopempti barbeque are patience and passion. Here are his useful (and delicious) tips to get the most out of this special day:
• Avoid cooking the meat directly from the refrigerator. It needs to rest until it reaches room temperature. Large cuts require at least an hour of ‘rest’ time, while sausages need half that.
• Just before cooking, dab your beef and pork chops dry with paper kitchen. This will help prevent the meat sticking to the grill.
• Avoid very high temperatures. Be patient and the meat will cook in its own time. However, if you are short on time, protect the meat from scorching (which can alter the flavour profile), by wrapping it in aluminium foil.
• To avoid the meat tasting bitter, toss your aromatic herbs onto the charcoal rather than directly onto the meat. Season with salt and pepper only at the end, as doing it earlier can make the meat tough and dry.
• Do not turn the grill grate too often. Like I said, patience is key here. 4-5 minutes a side is fine.
• Sausages, burgers, seftalies and steaks… need space! Avoid crowding the grill with too many items or layering them on top of each other. They won’t cook evenly if you do that. Take your time and grill each batch separately.
• Use two separate tongs for hygiene purposes. One for handling the raw meat, and one for the cooked.
• If you want to check your grilling temperature with a thermometer, these are the general guidelines for different types of meat:
Lamb: 65 °C (medium), 77 °C (well done)
Pork: 77 °C
Beef: 57 °C (rare), 65 °C (medium), 74 °C (well done).
• Once the meat is cooked, it needs to rest once again so the juices are not lost and it stays tender! 5-10 minutes is sufficient.
And one other thing:
You don’t have to be a butcher or a masterchef to grill like a pro. The quality of the protein is everything. You don’t have to select the most expensive cuts, but you should select the best quality. Trust the places where true meat-lovers shop. It’s no coincidence that METRO butchers have an excellent reputation! We select the best suppliers so we can be sure of the origin and quality of every cut that reaches our block. We ensure the cuts are correct, properly stored in our state-of-the-art refrigerators and displayed at the right temperatures. We also maintain excellent relationships with our customers, so they can always feel comfortable asking for any advice they may need, on every visit.
Happy Tsiknopempti everyone!