I am not an expert on meat and most certainly not on Turkish cuts of meat. They are different, you know.
What I do know is that the meat here doesn’t seem to taste the same here as meat back in the UK, let’s say. And it can be mighty tough if you’re not careful. I am basically talking about beef.
When I was first married in Ankara, way back, I thought I would make an English Sunday roast for my adoring young husband. Well, what a fiasco that was. It was as tough as old boots. I was so mad, I could have thrown it at the butcher’s head. And do you know what? I have never tried again.
I’ve come a long way since those early years.
First of all, one has to find a good butcher and once having found him, develop a relationship with him. This is the way it works. Once you have established that you are ‘his’ customer, he will give you good service which means good meat!
I have learned a lot about the importance of ‘hanging’ meat before it’s sold, in order to tenderize it. Fresh meat tends to be tough. Also, of course, that all meat in this country or any Moslem country, is halal, an Arabic word meaning permitted by religious law.The opposite of this is
The opposite of this is haram eg pork is most definitely haram or not allowed. Amongst other considerations, the blood of all meat must be drained to be considered halal. Presumably this explains why the majority of Turks like their meat well-cooked, never rare.
And this brings us to the mysterious cut of beef here called ‘nuar‘. Have you ever bought it? It’s a nice, clean-looking cut, long and lean. Apparently the name of it derives from the French ‘noix,’ or walnut – the cut known as gite a la noix is our very own nuar.
Because it is essentially a muscle located at the rear of a cow and surrounded by other muscles, it can be tough. So it is usually used for stewing or simply boiling with herbs and veg, to be served either hot or cold – essentially pot-au-feu.
I did some research into nuar or noix and apparently it is quite coveted for mince, not to mention grills but the emphasis is on thin slices.
Here in Turkey, the usual way to proceed is by assembling the above ingredients and, after searing the meat in a heavy pot with a little oil, boiling it with all of them, or if you have a pressure cooker, cooking for 25 minutes.
- Prepare the vegetables first. Then heat the oil in your pan and when hot, sear the meat on all sides.
- Add all the prepared vegetables around the meat, season well, and add cold water to a little more than halfway up the side of the nuar.
- Bring to the boil then lower the heat, half cover the pan, and boil for approximately 1½ hours. Check the level of the water from time to time and add (hot) water if necessary. I always check with a knife to make sure the meat is tender enough before turning off the gas.
TIP I have a friend who slices her nuar for the last half hour of cooking and replaces it in the stock to continue. I have another one who cooks it through completely then slices it and if it’s to be eaten later, leaves the slices in the stock/or gravy and gently reheats it when required.
This meat can be eaten hot or cold. If hot, a delicious gravy can be made using the stock in which it has been cooked. Or you can save the stock for soups, drink it as a bouillon (it’s delicious!), and use the sliced meat with salad or in a sandwich.
It’s a very good diet option as well! In fact, this is when I cook it: when TT and I think we need to watch our waistlines :(.