Big push: Matthew and Fiona Noakes, their children Wallace and Jess, and business partners Alison and Gary Polkinghorne, Marlborough, are leading the pack in the push for positivity around Brahman meat with the Smokin’ Yak restaurant.
Some may say it’s impossible, but Matthew Noakes and the team behind the Smokin’ Yak restaurant are confident they can dispel the prejudice against the meat quality ofBrahman cattle.
With customers lining up well in advance of typical meal times, Mr Noakes said the Texas barbecuing of Brahman humps was effectively an appeal to the consumer.
“There is a misconception amongthe general public that Brahman is a second grade product and you’d never get a processor to brand anything Brahman,” he said.
“If we can produce something that’s better than first gradewe believe hump meat could be the next lamb shank.”
A Teys Australia cattlebuyer, ABBA councillor and Brahman breeder based at Marlborough,Mr Noakes said he was looking for a breed promotion with the knowledge Brahman cattle held great potential.
“By virtue of geography Brahmans have a pretty bad run-MSA has proventhrough ossification and growth plains that it’s hard to get cattle off very hard country to be a consistently good eating product,” he said.
“On the same token, our work with the Brahman Beef Information Nucleus (BIN) project proved high eating quality is possibleif cattle are raised the right way in the right country.
“The industry’s work with Brahman breeders on their MSA pathways has been very successfulbut the message is not getting through to people.”
Mr Noakes said he had eaten hump meat before and built small Texas barbeques to enjoy the product at home.
“The negative perception of Brahman meat continued despite the industry’s work so I thought we’ddo something with a deadset Brahman product that couldn’t be anything else and let it speak for itself,” he said.
“Hump meat has a similar consistency to the good end of a brisket and this method of cooking itfor 12 hours at 130 degrees celsius over rosewood timber really suits it.
“The fat is rendered out and the connective tissues are softened leaving a really tender, juicy product. I haven’t had many people eat it and nottell me it’s the best meat they’ve ever eaten.”
To take the product from something that usually ends up as 70 per cent chemically lean trim to one commanding the attention of urban foodconnoisseurs is no mean feat.
Mr Noakes said there wouldalways be a discount on Brahman cattle but breeders of good quality Brahmansshould be able to negotiate withfeedlots to get close to flat back money.
“Brahman is a very broad term that covers cattle from the Central Highlands to the peninsular so we can’tgeneralise it the way we do,” he said.
“High meat quality is hard for any breed to attain in hard country with high ossification and staggered growth plains so it shouldn’t be as breed specific as it has become.
“Let’s work it out in the chillers with MSAand let the breed become a secondary selection tool- this is our little stamp of defiance.”
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