Charcoal grilled aged beef is the star of La Braseria
“Here we pamper our meat; with its quality, we couldn’t do anything else”, the assistant kitchen manager at El Nacional explains to define the mission of La Braseria, the rotisserie that specialises in aged, charcoal grilled meat.
Michel Gradeler’s eyes shine when he talks about the breeds they use, the aging system in cold rooms and the cooking process and he shows a video of one of the animals that will end up in the cold rooms at La Braseria in a few weeks’ time on his mobile phone.
True dishes for gourmet dining
The restaurant’s best traditional products are the T-bone steaks from older beef cows, Iberian breeds, mainly from the Galician Blond breed, matured between 60 and 85 days in ventilated cold rooms, with controlled humidity and temperature – below 1ºC, which, along with the fat that wraps and protects the meat, helps it to lose liquid and the flavours that are both due to genetics and rearing and feeding of each animal become concentrated.
The other star on the menu is the veal sirloin steak, aged for around 40 days, from the Bruna Pyrenean breed, as well as steaks and T-bone steaks from the same origin.
Dry Ageing Display
The meat reaches the restaurant in whole loins of 30 or 40 kilos , from which the T-bone steaks and sirloin steaks will be taken during the ageing process. This ageing will conclude with twenty days in the cold rooms, within the customer’s sight: the pieces that are going to be eaten can be seen in the fine-tuning room, at a slightly higher temperature, where for a few hours the meat wakes up and starts slowly to warm up before being moved over to the grills.
And the labels can also be seen on each loin and on each T-bone steak, on which all the traceability information appears to guarantee the breed, sex, origin and other data that guarantee the eating of each piece. Both the T-bone steaks, taken from the upper part of the loin, and the sirloin steaks, corresponding to the lower loin, are charcoal grilled on open grills. If they are roasted in a closed charcoal oven, like other meat, the high temperature would burn the fat. The T-bone steaks usually weigh between 900 g and 1.5 kg, which make them ideal for sharing within a group and the sirloin steaks, 350 g, the perfect weight for a single person.
If the beef animals to be charcoal grilled always come from females, for steak tartar, another of the restaurant’s specialities, only ox meat, specifically from the leg, is used, and always made to order.
According to the assistant kitchen management at El Nacional, ox meat is best for this dish because this aged meat acquires a more milky flavour; it has a greater proportion of fat, which melts in the hand, a pleasant fat, comparable to that of acorn-fed ham, which brings smoothness to the raw mixture.
Customers have a wide range of Spanish hors d’oeuvres and quality meat dishes. Amongst the former, Michel Gradeler emphasises the cojondongo, a typical food from Extremadura cuisine, a mash of bread, garlic and oil with vinegar and water, ideal for the summer, that is accompanied by beef jerky and the extraordinary Payoyo cheese from Cadiz.
Amongst the meats, the small whole roasted chicken stuffed with bread and herbs, the suckling lamb and the hand-made traditional butifarra sausage and charcoal-grilled pigs’ trotters all stand out.