A 10 hour slow barbecued Brahman hump
‘LOW and slow’ Texan style-cooking and Brahman humps are a match made in barbecue heaven as far as Matthew Noakes is concerned.
The Central Queensland Brahman breeder, Teys Australia cattle buyer and passionate ‘bush chef’ runs a slow-cooking barbecue catering business called The Smokin’ Yak, established in 2015 with fellow Marlborough Brahman breeders and barbecue connoisseurs, the Polkinghorne family.
“Something magical happens with rosewood smoke and low heat and time, that just turns it into something a bit special,” Mr Noakes said ahead of Beef 2018, where The Smokin Yak will be serving the slow-cooked barbecued delicacy from a restaurant in the Brahman Compound.
“I’ve had plenty of old blokes who have eaten beef all their life come back to me and say they have never tasted anything like it.”
For the past three years Smokin Yak has been helping to bring slow-cooked Brahman Humps to the attention of the wider beef eating public.
Brahman humps are said to be one of the most popular cuts of beef eaten in Brazil.
However, there has never been a strong tradition of eating Brahman humps in Australia.
Mr Noakes got bitten by the ‘low and slow’ Texas barbecue bug about eight years ago, becoming so immersed in the culture he now designs and builds his own reverse flow Texan style barbecues by hand.
Traditionally Texas barbecue is all about brisket, but Mr Noakes suspected highly marbled Brahman humps from grassfed bullocks in Central Queensland would produce a uniquely special barbecue experience.
He tested a few and was proven right, with 10 hours of slow cooking and low heat producing a tender, moist and richly-flavoured result.
The Smokin Yak soon found itself cooking Brahman humps for 350 people when Mr Noakes’ wife Fiona volunteered the business to cater for the Rockhampton Junior Beef Show in 2015.
The feedback from the event was “amazing”.
But were they preaching to the converted at a cattle event?
Any concerns they were soon disappeared when The Smokin Yak tested the demand of the broader public by serving Brahman Humps at the Capricorn Food and Wine Festival in Rockhampton later the same year.
“We sold out every day, we had a line 40 people long that went across the fronts of all the other food vendors,” Mr Noakes recalled.
“One of the food writing websites wrote you were mad if you didn’t pay the $10 to get in just to have a bit of our food, so all of that spurred us on.”
The Smokin Yak team has since served Brahman Humps at the World Brahman Congress in Rockhampton in 2016 and many other events and catering functions.
But all along Mr Noakes has had the king of all Australian beef events, the three-year Beef Australia expos, firmly in his sights.
Visitors to The Smokin Yak’s restaurant in the Brahman Compound will be able to order slow-cooked Brahman hump, beef rib, pulled beef cheek meat and other options either as a takeaway or in a cordoned off, 160 seat restaurant, with new seatings every hour.
To cater for the event Mr Noakes has just finished building what he believes is the biggest reverse-flow Texas barbecue in Queensland if not Australia.
It has a cooking chamber three-metres long, a diameter of 1.2 metres and, alongside their existing barbecues, provides the capacity for The Smokin’ Yak to produce 400kg of low’n’slow barbecued beef per day.
Mr Noakes expects to supply over two tonnes of meat during the week long event, including 1.2 tonnes of Brahman humps.
Diners looking to book a table at the restaurant will receive a table platter with a guarantee they won’t leave feeling hungry.
As a cattle buyer for Teys Australia Mr Noakes has individually selected about five different mobs of Brahmans to supply the Smokin Yak restaurant during Beef 2018.
“We are providing a truly local Central Queensland dining experience, with every piece of beef that we sell through the week coming from Teys Australia’s Lakes Creek abattoir.
“Every piece of beef will have a story, every piece of beef will be local Central Queensland grown. There will be some grainfed but predominately Grasslands accredited product which we are very proud of.
“Without our partnership with Teys Australia Lakes Creek this wouldn’t be possible, I have never seen a processor embrace something the way the management at Lakes Creek have embraced the Smokin Yak.”
The Smokin Yak has also been working with Meat & Livestock Australia to develop some innovative new consumer products based on Brahman Humps.
Mr Noakes said he can’t discuss any further details just yet but said all will be revealed at Beef 2018.