Tagged: beef

Birthday Beef

So, yesterday, I was 21 again and looking forward to having a decent meal as part of the overall celebrations.

And, there are times when trying new things can be exciting… and then there are the times that just settling for an old favourite is the best way to go.

I settled for an old favourite – and decided that Steak and Chips was the way to go.

There is always a little bit of a kerfuffle when steak is on the menu, because I am normally a Ribeye kinda guy, and my partner, Jools, prefers the more delicate dimensions and flavour of Filet.

Shouldn’t be an issue, just need to adjust the cooking times and we’re both happy. However, due to the relatively random nature of mainstream butchery (I’m sure Mugsie will have a rant about that!) it is frequently hard to go to a single source of meat and get a decent cut of Ribeye and a decent Filet at the same time.

I’ve seen some shockingly poor attempts at cutting meat being served up at premium prices that would have been impossible to cook properly.

So, we went out to a pretty decent supermarket – Booths – and chatted with the bloke on the Butchers counter. The Filet looked nice – a good dark colour. But the Ribeye, to be honest, looked a little… puny! If I didn’t know better I would have said it was a small sirloin – which was not what my capacious belly was after.



This was a bone-in forerib of beef. It looked fantastic – good colour and fat distribution – and of a scale to entirely satisfy a greedy sod like me!

I am more familiar with this piece of meat in it’s French form – where it is known as ‘Cote de Boeuf’ – and I have only ever attempted to cook it once before.

That turned out to be a pretty disastrous attempt – and could have scarred me for life… but I was determined to get it right and here was a great opportunity.

So steak bought, it was back home to do a bit of research to nail the cooking of this beast.


You can see from the above shot that I really can be a greedy bastard at times… but I convinced myself that because I was trying to perfect a cooking technique, this was necessary research so that you can all avoid my earlier pitfalls – I did it all for you!

One of the benefits of being an obsessive cookery book collector means that I have a huge library of information. But recently I was given a copy of a book that I went to immediately… for obvious reasons.

It was by Mr Masterchef himself, John Torode – and is imaginatively called ‘BEEF’! Well I could hardly go wrong with this – and so it proved to be.

He had a technique for cooking the Cote de Boeuf that I stuck to… and wow!

So, here’s the technique…

Heat a frying pan or griddle to a just smokey temperature.

Put the oven on at about 200 C

Season both sides of the beef.

Score the fat and cook the piece of meat on the fat side over a high heat until the fat starts to char and caramelise.

Caramelising the fat

When that is done, flip the piece of beef onto one side and cook for 4 minutes.

on it's side for 4 mins

Then turn the meat over and cook for another 4 minutes.

colouring the beef

Then flip it back onto the first side for another 2 minutes before putting it into the oven. I used a pre-heated roasting tray, but if you’ve got a posh pan that will take oven heat, just throw it straight in.

It stays in the oven for 6 minutes and then comes out and rests for a minimum of five minutes. Which is when you can start to cook that lovely little piece of Filet.

2 1/2 to 3 minutes a side will give you a nice medium rare steak.

The Cote de Boeuf is cooked to a medium. It’s a slightly tougher cut of meat so appreciates that little extra cooking, but it still came out as a very succulent medium with a delicate pink and juicy centre.


As you can see from the above picture… it was hardly a fair distribution of meat… but it does go some way to explaining why I am the size of a camper van and my partner is still referred to as petite!!

But, hey, it was my birthday, so I am happily unashamed about this turn of events!


So, served with oven roasted potato wedges and a peppery green salad of rocket and watercress and washed down with a very robust merlot – I ended my big day on a very happy and contented note.

It only remains for me to thank Mr John Torode for clearly knowing what to do with Beef – I strongly recommend adding his book to your library!


Black Rice I – with Spicy Meatballs

There had been no significant plans to do anything like this before I started it. To be honest, I was expecting us to be eating leftover soup… but then, a little bit of inspiration and cupboard-surfing later, we had a full on meal to eat.

Down at the allotment, a couple of days before, we’d rescued the last of the leeks – and whilst they were past their prime, they were still perfectly edible. Ideal for soup. We also had some potatoes that were also getting a little bit beyond themselves. Ideal for soup, too. So a ‘Vichysoise’ was planned.

I had a fresh chicken stock I’d made (see Mugsie’s article – the only thing different was I threw in 4 garlic cloves) and the potatoes and leeks. Chop, season, chuck together and cook. Job done.

Vichysoise is just ‘Leek & Potato’ soup, but served cold – ideal for summers. It was raining when we had it, so it stayed hot, with some leftover for the next day.

So what has any of this got to do with black rice? Well, I’ll tell you…

The next evening, I looked at the soup and realised two things. Firstly, there wasn’t really enough for two as a meal, and second, the starches had broken down overnight and left a soup you could almost eat with a knife and fork. It would liquefy a little when warmed through but I looked at it and thought, why couldn’t I use this as a sauce – it was tasty, savoury and already there and waiting.

Next started the search for things to put with it. In a cupboard I found a bag of black rice that I had picked up a few months ago the last time I visited a Chinese supermarket. I’d never eaten it or cooked with it before which was the main reason I’d bought it… and then I’d never got around to doing anything with it. I thought that the colours of the two things would be perfect… black rice and white sauce (almost) – it would be like McCartney & Wonder all over again.

I also had a pack of lean beef mince that I’d bought to make meatballs with at some point – ok, it could be a bit wierd… but there was the inspiration behind this next recipe.

Black Rice with Spicy Meatballs and Savoury Sauce.


Lean beef mince – 1 pack
Black Rice – 1 cup
Onion – 1 finely chopped
Pecorino or Parmesan Cheese – 1 large handful, finely grated
Garlic Powder – a hefty spoonful
Ground Black Pepper – a hefty spoonful
Paprika (HOT/PICANTE) – 2 hefty spoonful
Breadcrumbs – 2 handfuls
Smoked Salt – a hefty spoonful
Vegetable Stock
and, of course, you pre-prepared ‘sauce’

There weren’t any cooking instructions on the back of the rice packet, so I started with a basic – 1 cup of rice/2 cups of water absorption method. But when I put a cup of rice into the pan, it didn’t really look like that much, and when I tipped out the rest of the pack, it came to 2 cups of dry rice in total. OK, so there might be a bit left over but better that than starve… right?

This was a tactical error!! It needed more water in the cooking process. Probably ending up with something nearer a 4:1 ratio. And I ended up with enough rice to resurface my driveway. We definitely weren’t going to starve!

Curious stuff this black rice. When it’s done, it is very much a ‘sticky’ rice. Which isn’t a bad thing. It has a nutty flavour and when it is cooking in the pan it looks like you are simmering up a bowl of crude oil! But just the colour alone adds a great visual impact to the plate – although, as you will see later, my presentation isn’t going to win any prizes (but definitely a couple for taste!)

To make the meat balls you basically combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and thoroughly squish it together with your hands. This is one of those jobs that I really enjoy in the kitchen – you get messy and really hands on. You shouldn’t need anything other than the breadcrumbs to bind the mixture together and when it is mixed well, form it into balls and set to one side. [I actually made mine a bit more long than round, so maybe they should be called something a bit different like ‘oblongalls’?]

So your rice is nearly cooked.

Your meat just needs browning off in a frying pan – 5 mins each side.

Warm your sauce through, drain the rice and your ready to serve. A final touch of luxury is to just stir a little salted butter through the rice to give it a wonderful glaze.

Plate up – hopefully a little more artistically than I did and tuck in. (Apologies for the gratuitous tomatoes and basil leaf – they were purely added for a splash of colour and added nothing to the dish whatsoever!)


The meatballs and black rice went together really well, but the real revelation was using the soup as a sauce. It was just the right amount of richness and intensity of flavour to bring the other ingredients together.



Watch out for Black Rice II, the sequel… I told you I made too much of the bloody stuff!