Product of the week: cote de boeuf

Categories: Product stories, Product of the week

A special sharing cut of beef from Northfield Farm

Image: Adrian McCourt

“The name simply means ‘rib of beef’ in French and can refer to a whole joint with several ribs or a single rib on the bone, which is perfect for two people,” says Dom McCourt, pointing to a neatly laid array of cote de boeuf joints at Northfield Farm’s stall. “These predominantly come from our pedigree Aberdeen angus herds, but we do farm other breeds and buy some animals in from neighbouring farms, so these joints could be from white park, dexter or shorthorn cattle. Personally, I don’t think any one of the breeds produces a better cut than the others. Just ask if you want to know which one you are buying.”

Cote de boeuf comes from the part of the cow where the back goes into the shoulder, which Dom says leads to a really good quality and quantity of fat. “This part of the animal does a moderate amount of work—enough to produce the marbling but not enough for the muscles to become tough. That gives a near perfect blend of fat for flavour and tender muscle for a nice texture.”

As with all their meat, Dom suggests buying it as close to the time you want to cook it as you can. If you are buying it in advance, three or four days is the maximum time you should keep it in the fridge—unless it has been vacuum packed, meaning it can last a few days longer. “The important thing is to unwrap it before putting it in the fridge,” Dom explains. “Put it uncovered on some greaseproof paper on a plate so the air can get around it, which will stop the joint from sweating. It will discolour a bit, but that won’t affect the quality in any way. This a lovely cut which deserves a bit of extra care before cooking.”

Star of the dish
Tony Rodd, restaurateur and Borough Market demonstration chef, is in complete agreement. “This is a wonderful cut that has to be the star of the dish. I don’t crowd it with too many other flavours, so you can really taste the flavour of the beef.” Tony says taking it out of the fridge at least an hour before cooking is very important, especially when cooking a whole joint, because if the core of the meat is colder than the surface it will not cook evenly. And he has a delicious recipe for slow cooking it. When the meat is at room temperature, rub it with olive oil all over and season liberally with salt and pepper. “Heat some garlic cloves, rosemary, fresh thyme and a large splash of rapeseed oil in a pan until you start smelling those wonderful garlic and herb aromas, then brown the joint on all sides. Be patient and don’t keep moving the joint around, the caramelisation you want to achieve needs time to happen.”

Once browned, place the joint in an oven tray and put it in the oven at 140C for up to two hours. The time varies depending on the weight of your joint, so Tony suggests using a meat thermometer to check the temperature during cooking. “If you are going to buy wonderful cuts of meat like this, get yourself a probe so you can be really precise about the cooking. You want the temperature at the core of the roast to reach 50C for medium-rare, 55C for medium.”

After the meat has gone into the oven, turn your attention to making a glaze to anoint the meat while it cooks. “Deglaze the pan with the garlic and herb oil with a small glass of sherry,” Tony says. “Reduce the liquid by about half, add two tablespoons of honey and let it simmer until fully incorporated. Strain the liquid into a clean bowl.” Check the temperature of the joint every 30 minutes—more frequently as it is getting close to temperature. Each time you do this, brush the joint all over with the glaze; it gives the meat slightly rich and sweet sherry notes, which really complement the beef flavours. After taking it out of the oven, rest it for at least 15 minutes.

“This is a really delicious cut of meat which is exquisite when cooked well,” says Tony. “If you treat it well, a cote de boeuf will reward your efforts with a very special meal.”