Culinary Dispatch: Chef Jarrod Walsh - Hartsyard

Recipe | September 9, 2020

Photo by Jason Loucas

Chef Jarrod Walsh uses only secondary cuts in his Sydney restaurant Hartsyard. “They can take effort,” he says. “But if you offer people something they haven’t heard of and you make it really special, then you can really blow them away.” 

Walsh applies his full bag of kitchen tricks to Westholme cuts like intercostal and chuck tail flap – “it’s the worst name but it’s a great piece of meat,” he laughs. “With these lesser-known cuts, maybe you cure, brine, sous vide them and if you do it properly they can be at least as good as a primary cut like sirloin and have that added interest factor.”

The intercostal runs between the rib bones. Jarrod brines it in the piece overnight in a five percent salt solution with brown sugar and toasted star anise. “That adds depth to the meat,” he says. “It also helps by evenly seasoning it.” He slices the intercostal thinly, skewers it and grills it.  “You see this cut a lot in Korean barbecue,” he says. “That’s the inspiration. It’s perfect for a skewer because you want to cook it quickly and you don’t need a huge serve because the marbling is intense and the flavour is full on – it’s the most ‘wagyu’ cut you can find.”

Photo by Jason Loucas

Getting the caramelisation right means the flavour is shown to best advantage. “You don’t want the intercostal rare,” says Jarrod. “You want the fat to caramelise so it’s almost like crispy bacon.” Finding the right accompaniment is important too. A sauce made with fermented black garlic has just the right saltiness and acidity to balance the rich meat, with fresh wasabi adding lively heat. “There’s a lot of umami in the sauce so it wakes up the palate and you keep going back for more,” he says. “It’s an amazing cut to cook, and such a pleasure to serve.”

The chuck tail flap is marinated in shio koji (a Japanese seasoning made with fermented rice) for six hours. “It’s basically a cure,” he says. “We wipe off the koji and then the meat is ready to grill.” He prefers to cook it to medium over even embers, rotating it often to ensure it’s nicely caramelised all over. The meat is dressed with smoked wagyu fat, made from rendered trimmings, and served with soy-pickled onions and beef jus.

Jarrod has been using Westholme wagyu for a year. “We did lots of trials with various wagyus but I found the Westholme was way better and more consistent,” he says. “The flavour of the meat was the difference. You can really see the way Westholme works in the quality of the meat. When people eat it they say it’s amazing and often ask where they can get some.”

Jarrod Walsh has strong feelings about how best to cook wagyu. “It cooks faster than regular beef and it will colour more quickly due to the fat content,” he says. He’s a fan of slowing the cook down by moving the meat around the grill, allowing the fat to render. “The more time you can take to cook it on the grill, the more flavour you’ll get,” he says. He loves cooking over wood or charcoal but sounds a note of caution. “Don’t let the meat sit over a burning flame for too long because it will flare,” he says. “You need to attend to it, move it around, flip it.” When pan-cooking, he recommends lightly oiling the steak rather than the pan, searing over a high heat then turning the heat down and finishing the steak by basting with butter, garlic cloves and thyme.

Photo by Jason Loucas

Since reopening after the coronavirus shutdown, Jarrod has transitioned Hartsyard to a five-course set menu that showcases produce he really loves. “It allows me to be more creative and it’s so much easier to manage wastage,” he says. “It’s actually the best decision we ever made.” His menus might include a raw coral prawn tart with finger lime, yellowfin tuna with smoked bonito vinegar, potato with truffle butter and, of course, there’s usually a Westholme wagyu dish on the menu too.

Jarrod loves the new menu structure and his diners’ appreciation. “Lockdown gave us time to plan and to think about what we wanted to do,” he says. Jarrod and his partner Dorothy Lee took over the restaurant 18 months ago. “The first year was very, very hard but we were just getting settled and then COVID came,” he says. “It was tough but we got to the point of thinking, ‘This is our restaurant, a set menu is what we want to do, so we’ll do it. If not now, then when? We were worried but the response has been very strong.”

Jarrod Walsh is feeling good about his post-lockdown restaurant. “People have a lot more appreciation for restaurants,” he says. “Customers tell us how happy they are we made it through. After not being able to eat out, they realise what a privilege it is. I am very optimistic. I think the future is going to be better and stronger than ever.”

 

 

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