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.
AN THEN I SAW SOMETHING THAT MADE ME GO ALL TINGLY!
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.
When that is done, flip the piece of beef onto one side and cook for 4 minutes.
Then turn the meat over and cook for another 4 minutes.
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!