Well, okay, Christmas wasn’t in danger of being banned or anything, but I certainly had a lack of The Christmas Feeling. Having a husband with Norovirus will do that, certainly to him!
You see, we had a wonderful thing lurking in our fridge. It had arrived on the Tuesday and I was very excited to start Cooking the Big Meal. No, really, I was!
This is what we had. Look at that, all in its old fashioned brown paper-wrapped glory.
The packaging was fabulous, and beautifully done. I had a great time pulling out all the packages. There was a Christmas card too, and a recipe sheet! There may have been much squeaking, and then there was a moment of panic as I tried to work out where it would all go but I got that sorted out. There’s something terribly right and proper about a perfectly rectangular block of beef dripping wrapped in brown paper. All this for £45? I think I know what I shall be getting next year too.
THIS is what colour beef is meant to be, Supermarkets. THIS. With creamy, dense fat, the fat that actually surrounded the meat when it was on the animal, not a bit stuck on the top to add some hope of flavour to the hunk of bright red meat that you insist the customer wants. Only because you have brainwashed them over the years into believing that bright red with no fat is how meat should look, you silly, money-grabbing, quick profit people. Hopeless. If only you invested as much time and money into proper producers instead of mass produced blah…
Look at this piece of beef. It came with a card, so I knew where it was from, what breed, when it was slaughtered. It may not make much of a difference, but it’s information that I like to know.
The beauty of dry aged meat is that is lasts longer in the fridge. Our plan for Christmas Day dinner had to be put on hold due to the Outbreak, so back in the fridge the beef went.
On the 27th, Tex was well enough to countenance food. Out came the meat, and boy did it look and smell fabulous. It does smell strong, I won’t deny that. At first it is a bit of a shock but then you realise that that is how properly aged meat is meant to smell. There’s an almost toffee-like scent to it.
Next I painted the whole rib with dark French mustard, then stuck the beef rub that ELSC sent us, in the cutest little brown envelope, to the mustard.
Into the oven it went, at 200ºC (fan). 15 minutes at that temperature and oh my…the smells that were starting already! Then the oven went down to 160ºC and I cooked it for 25 minutes per pound. Yes, I realise that this is the timing for well done, but Tex prefers it that way and as this was to be the first Christmas thing he’d eaten, it was going to be the way he liked it. My bit was still pink though, as it turned out, even though the photos didn’t capture that.
Lovely meat! The second photo accidentally came out with soft focus and film star sparkles, but it deserved it.
I took it out of the oven. and wrapped it very well in foil so that it could rest properly. I didn’t even steal a tiny piece of the fat!
While it was resting, I cooked buttered cinnamon carrots, potatoes roasted in the beef fat (which is why they are so dark in places) and also made a very easy honey roast parsnip recipe that Lorraine Pascale did on her TV show. I will always do them that way from now on.
Peel and cut parsnips into small, evenly sized pieces. Stir fry in a little olive oil with a touch of salt until starting to turn golden brown, lower the heat as far as it will go, put the lid on so they steam cook though, then when soft, up the heat to crisp up the edges then drizzle with honey/maple syrup.
And that was dinner.
I can safely say that this was the best piece of beef that I have ever cooked. It didn’t disappoint in any way, even though it was well done. It still stayed tender, and juicy and absolutely flavourful. It has a rich taste to it, but not cloying at all. Very beefy, but not with that overly iron-rich, gamey flavour that some aged meat can have.
I still have the marrow bones, the gravy and the beef chipolatas in the freezer, because Tex really wasn’t up to a huge meal, so that’s something else to look forward to.
East London Steak Company, you have yourself a loyal follower.