Best Flavour Pairings for Beef
Where do we start?! Beef is such a versatile meat and there is so much we can do with it in the kitchen to serve up the most delicious meals. It has become one of the staple proteins around the world, which means every country and every culture has their own unique ways of preparing and cooking this most delicious meat. From a tong slappin’ barbecued American Tomahawk steak to a rich and moist Moroccan Tagine, beef is used to fulfill so many of our culinary desires…well except for when it comes to dessert.
So, what are some of your favourite ingredients that you think pair well with beef? To be honest, we think pretty much everything can go well with beef, but we’ve put together a list of some of our favourites. Bon appétit!
Let’s start with the simple steak. Seasoned and cooked to perfection, a good steak doesn’t need much to accompany it, but if you like to add a bit of extra flavour, then here are some good ones.
1. Ground horseradish
Native to certain parts of Europe and Asia, horseradish is a root vegetable with an intense flavour. It is more popular as a condiment in the United Kingdom as it is here in Australia, so it can be hard to find in some shops. We would also recommend avoiding horseradish cream as ground horseradish is a far superior product. Similar to mustard and wasabi, it packs a short but intense punch. But if you put just the right amount on each mouthful of steak, it opens up a range of wonderfully tangy flavours that really enhances the meat.
2. Wholegrain mustard
More common in Australia than horseradish, this condiment is much easier to find in supermarkets and is probably in most household pantries. Its vinegar base gives it a lovely tang, and the texture of the soft whole grains of mustard give an oddly satisfying popping sensation in your mouth.
Sliced button mushrooms, pan-fried with garlic and plenty of butter makes a delicious addition to a good steak. Once the mushrooms are nice and soft and blending well with the butter, they add a real soft earthiness to any steak. They can also be something of a saviour if the steak is a bit tough or if you’ve overcooked it, as the softness gives the illusion of a more tender meat. Add chillies or your favourite hot sauce to the mushroom mix if you like a bit of spice.
There are so many ways that minced beef can be turned into a delicious dish. For this section, rather than pairing mince with individual condiments, we will instead focus on groups of flavours to create certain styles of dish.
Pretty much any Mexican dish can be made from a minced beef base. Any combination of the following ingredients will turn your minced beef into an excellent base for a range of Mexican dishes:
– Ground cumin
– Ground smoky paprika
– Garam masala
– Chillies (fresh, dried, ground or a combination)
– Salt and pepper
You can experiment with ratios and add other things like cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar, but in general the above list of ingredients will get you off to a good start.
2. Beef Kofta
Traditionally enjoyed throughout South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, Koftas are a type of skewered meatball. They incorporate some strong flavours and are quite popular as a finger food in social settings. To make Koftas, simply add the following mix of ingredients to 500g of minced beef and mould handfuls of the mixture around wooden skewers before cooking.
(Process the first three ingredients in a food processor)
– ½ cup of fresh parsley
– ½ cup of fresh coriander
– 1 brown onion
– 1 tsp ground coriander
– 1 tsp paprika
– 1 tsp cumin
– ½ tsp allspice
– Salt and pepper
The great thing about beef jerky and biltong is that there are no limits to how creative you can get with it. Any combination of flavours or any theme is worth exploring—from Thai chilli, lime and sesame seeds to sweet BBQ, and everything in between. Here are some of our favourites.
1. Soy Sauce
This is probably the most common base marinade for beef jerky. It is sweet, salty and runny, which means it is able to thoroughly penetrate the meat, giving it maximum flavour. After starting with a soy sauce base, other ingredients can be added to make styles such as Texan beef jerky or chilli beef jerky, for example.
Achieving that rich smoky flavour is traditionally achieved by placing meat to dry in a smoker or smoke room along with wood chips such as hickory or mesquite that impart their flavour onto the meat. But, if you don’t have a smoker, you can buy smoke in liquid form that you can use to marinade the beef for that strong smoke flavour. These are generally available from BBQ and other specialty food stores.
Simple but effective. Like a classic pepper steak, coarsely ground peppercorns can be used as the centrepiece of flavour for any dried meat. Combining it with a big piece of marinaded topside will result in a warming soft pepper beef biltong or a spicy chewy pepper beef jerky.
There are so many flavour pairing options when it comes to beef that this list could be orders of magnitude longer, but to keep it short, they are some of our favourites. Of course, the best thing about cooking with beef is that there really are no rules, so get in the kitchen and start coming up with some of your own creations!