Meet the new meat master

Neil Rankin
Neil Rankin

Neil Rankin can already predict the type of complaints people will level at his newly published cookbook.

“‘I’ve cooked a chicken a hundred times before - I don’t need to be told by you how to cook it; who do you think you are?!’” jokes the former sound engineer-turned-chef, laughing.

But there’s cooking meat... and then there’s ‘really’ cooking meat, and Rankin has dedicated much time to the topic, delving into the science behind ensuring perfect results, as detailed in his first book, Low And Slow: How To Cook Meat.

Based in London, the Edinburgh-born foodie, who retrained as a chef a decade ago, seeks to clear up some confusion surrounding the subject. He doesn’t, for example, “get” the idea of resting meat.

“Every chef in the world rests meat and when they read my book, I’m sure they’ll say, ‘You shouldn’t have said that, of course you should rest the meat’, but actually, when you think about the physics behind it, it doesn’t make sense,” says the 39-year-old, whose East London home is filled with the scent of roast chicken bubbling away in the oven.

Instead of bowing to popular opinion, Low And Slow attempts to arm home cooks with explanations and information so they can make the most of meals. But it’s not, says Rankin, a book for “people who don’t want to learn anything new, or don’t want to take anything on board”.

Keen to further his own knowledge, he is wise to the arguments for and against meat consumption.

Though he made his name opening the meaty Barbecoa restaurant with Jamie Oliver and Adam Perry Lang, as well as working at a string of other BBQ and smokehouses, Rankin is firmly in the “buy better quality meat and less of it” camp.

“I don’t expect people to eat meat every day,” says the chef, who “tends” to eat vegetable-based meals during the week, and meat at weekends.

“I don’t think it’s good. I don’t think it’s right. I don’t think we’re supposed to. It’s a supplement to our diets that we’ve been eating for one-and-a-half million years, so it is important to have, but I don’t think you should have it all the time.

“You feel it inside when you’ve overdone it,” Rankin adds. “But if you cook it really nicely for a celebration, then you’ll want it like that. The less people eat all this crap meat, the less will be made, and the better it will be.”

Fancy some top-notch meat this weekend? Here are three recipes from Low And Slow to crack on with...