There are some wonderful characteristics across the various beef breeds, though it is possible to get a bad steak from a pure, native breed animal and excellent beef from a careful cross. By ensuring that beef comes from a slow growing animal that has led as stress-free a life as possible, eaten a natural diet of grass and hay, and that the carcass has been dry aged after slaughter, you’re almost certain to get really good beef regardless. Whether a piece of beef is from our own herds of Longhorn, Shorthorn and Galloway, or selected from the collaborative partner farms with whom we work, each mouthful will be of the exceptional quality our customers have come to expect.
We also select Limousin veal from Rungis market in France each week, which is reared for its eating quality alone as opposed to a byproduct of the dairy industry. Calves are reared outdoors with their mother until slaughter, and so their tender, flavoursome meat benefits from both mothers’ milk and pasture grazing. Although it has many of its own culinary specialisms, it can largely be treated in the same way as beef in terms of cooking times and temperatures. Its delicate flesh benefits from a more subtle touch in the kitchen – choose white wine over red for sauces, and go easy on particularly robust ingredients.
KNUCKLE / TOP RUMP
A fairly flat cut taken from where the upper back leg meets the rump, top rump is relatively fatty and works well in casseroles and pie fillings. It can be sliced into thin strips for flash or stir-frying, or alternatively left whole as a great roast for a typical Sunday lunch.
Silverside is taken from the lower part of the back of the body. It has a little gristle running through it making it one for the pot, but has bags of flavour and is great once slowly braised in liquid. Usually carefully trimmed, and rolled into a neat joint, and is often used to make salt beef.
An underused and often unheard of cut of beef from the silverside, but one well worth seeking out. Comprising of a single muscle and so bone and gristle-free, taken from the back area which has plenty of flavour. This cut is usually around 1.5 kilos in weight, and so provides an easy roast for four to six people. Serve finely sliced and nice and pink.
Season the meat and sear in a very hot pan, then transfer to the oven and roast at 200°C for 15-20 minutes per 500g. Rest the meat for 10 minutes then slice thinly to serve – absolutely superb in a hot roast beef sandwich.
A lean and potentially very tender cut of beef, which needs fairly fast or very slow cooking and nothing in between. It makes a great pot roast, but can be barded with a layer of fat and roasted quickly to serve pink. Cold and finely sliced, it makes for the best beef sandwiches – in fact it’s almost better cold than it is warm. Generally prepared as a rolled joint for even cooking.
Season the joint and roast at your oven’s hottest for five minutes, then turn the heat down to 170°C and roast for 15 minutes per 500g for rare, 18-20 minutes per 500g for medium. Rest the meat before carving.
To the new cook oxtail might seem like a challenging cut, but it really is among the best for a braise or casserole. We chop the whole tail into rounds so that as it slow cooks, all of the unctuous collagen and gelatin is released into the sauce making for just about the richest beef stew you can make.
Dust the pieces of tail in seasoned flour and brown in a very hot pan. Transfer them to a cooking pot with a lid, and slow cook in whatever recipe takes your fancy – just make sure the tail pieces are covered with a braising liquid. Cook at barely a simmer for six hours, then remove the tail pieces from the liquid. Reduce the cooking liquor by up to a half, then flake the flesh back in and season to taste.
The rump is comprised of four muscles, which can be left as a whole or separated into different cuts: picanha or rumpcap, rumptail or tri tip, rump fillet or rump pave and prime rump. Although a fairly lean cut in itself, rump has a layer of subcutaneous fat which means it can be aged whole for up to 90 days, to give exceptional flavour and tenderness.
As a roasting joint: there are two methods here – either hot and fast or extremely low and slow, both yielding quite rare flesh but the latter providing completely even cooking. Whatever the cooking method, rump requires a good rest after cooking.
Fast: season and sear the roasting joint in a very hot pan, then finish in the oven at 170°C, for 15-20 minutes per 500g depending on how rare you like it.
Slow: heat the oven to 75°C. Season and sear the joint in a very hot pan, then place on a roasting tray in the oven for 4-5 hours, until the internal temperature has reached 55°C (rare) to 60°C (medium). You’ll need a meat thermometer for this.
Rump steak: rather than buy a rump steak per person, but them dictionary thick and cook as for a roasting joint; a very hot sear and then 10-15 minutes in the oven. Once rested, slice into thick pieces to serve.
Point end: the muscle that makes up the thin, tapered end you can see in the cross section of a rump steak. Has lots of flavour, is best cooked medium rare and well rested to ensure that it’s nice and tender.
Rump cap/picanha: the flat muscle which has the fat on top. Sear hot and fast, finish in the oven at 180°C for 15-20 minutes and serve rare. Very popular in South America.
Pope’s eye or spider steak: 300-400g cut with a web of marbled fat. A true delicacy to sear and serve medium rare, which all too often ends up in burgers mix (or is snapped up by the butcher who cuts it).
Sirloin is taken from the back of the loin, and comprises of a rib housing a long eye of marbled, tender and tasty meat. Left on the bone as a roasting joint it’s known as the wing rib, taken off it forms either a rolled sirloin roasting joint – which is barded with fat – or sirloin steaks.
Wing rib: heat the oven as hot as it will go. Just before it goes in the oven, cover the beef with a little bit of salt and pepper. Place the beef in a roasting tray so that it rests upright on the bone, put the tray in the oven and roast for 20 minutes, until the fat starts to sizzle. Turn the temperature down to 180˚C/ 350˚F/ Mark 4 and roast for a further 25-30 minutes per kilo, depending on whether you like your beef rare or medium rare. Remove the beef from the oven, cover with foil, drape a bath towel over the top and leave it to rest for 30-40 minutes before carving. If you have some people who like quite rare meat, and others who prefer it a little bit more well done, carve the entire joint as the middle will be rarer than the edges.
Rolled sirloin: turn the oven up to 220°C. Season the rolled sirloin and place into the heated oven. Turn the temperature down to 180°C as soon as the meat goes in, and roast for 20 minutes per 500g.
Sirloin steak: buy your steaks nice and thick, and season them just as they go into a very hot pan. Six to eight minutes should be long enough, allow a few minutes rest before serving.
Easily recognized by the T-shaped bone, which has the flesh of the sirloin on one side and the tender fillet on the other. A hard cut to cook properly as the two sides tend to cook unevenly. The porterhouse is supposed to have a slightly higher ratio of fillet than the standard T-bone.
The long, tender, tapered muscle that runs alongside the sirloin. The most tender cut as it does not do any work. The fat, stocky end is known as chateaubriand and makes a lean and tender roast for two. The centre cut of the fillet is often the sought after piece, as it lends itself well to even cooking and easy portioning – the star ingredient of the dish beef wellington. The tapered end of the fillet is known as the tail, and should be cheaper than the rest of the cut. This piece is often used for steak tartare, stir fries and stroganoffs. Whichever piece of the fillet you’re using should be left quite pink, as it can become tough thanks to having very little fat.
Chateaubriand: season and sear the meat in a very hot pan, then place into the oven at 180°C for 12 minutes per 500g. Rest before slicing.
Centre cut: rather than cutting into individual fillet steaks, we recommend using a method similar to chateaubriand, then carving just before serving. This was you retain a beautifully rare centre, which is more difficult when it’s in smaller pieces.
The forerib is the first five bones of the loin after the 3 wing ribs (nearest the head), and while it lacks some of the finesse of sirloin due to the nugget of fat running through it, it has bags of flavour and has become the firm favourite roast in recent years. The eye of the rib can be removed for rib eye steaks, and the cap of flesh across the top can be added to burger mixes with great success. A cut that will stand a fair amount of ageing, thanks to the covering of fat.
Forerib on the bone: heat the oven as hot as it will go. Just before it goes in the oven, cover the beef with a little bit of salt and pepper. Place the beef in a roasting tray so that it rests upright on the bone, put the tray in the oven and roast for 20 minutes, until the fat starts to sizzle. Turn the temperature down to 180˚C/ 350˚F/ Mark 4 and roast for a further 15 minutes per 500g for medium/ 10 minutes per 500g for rare. Remove the beef from the oven, cover with foil, drape a bath towel over the top and leave it to rest for 30-40 minutes before carving. If you have some people who like quite rare meat, and others who prefer it a little bit more well done, carve the entire joint as the middle will be rarer than the edges.
Rib eye steak: for a steak about an inch thick (and no less), get the pan nice and hot, and season the steak just as it goes in. Turn every two minutes for around eight altogether, leaving it medium rare which is just right for this cut. If you can, press the little piece of fat into the hot pan as the steak cooks so that it renders a little more.
A tasty, economical cut from the very top of the rib where it meets the shoulder. Suited to slower methods of cooking such as stewing or braising, and it makes a great pot roast if taken off the bone and rolled. Chuck has found increased popularity recently as part of the meat blend for good quality burger restaurants.
As you might imagine from a group of muscles which hold up the head, a tight and muscular cut, but one that makes excellent stewing beef and mince.
CHEEK / JOWL
Cattle chew for up to eight hours a day, so the cheek gets an awful lot of work. It’s subsequently a very solid, tight muscle, but provides great flavour when braised or casseroled.
Allow one per person, and stew whole in plenty of liquid as you would any slow cooking dish. The meat will pull apart into tender fibres if braised gently for long enough.
CLOD AND STICKING
A rich stewing cut from below the throat, so called because this is where the animal can be stuck for draining blood. Well suited to slow cooking and pie making.
FEATHER BLADE / INNER CHUCK
A small cut taken from along the shoulder blade, feather blade has very good marbling and lots of flavour, but needs either very fast or very slow cooking, as you would for onglet.
The shoulder or chuck contains lots of fairly well marbled, textured beef suitable for slow cooking and braises. Most commonly, it is trimmed and diced or minced, but there are a couple of old-fashioned cuts which can be taken from it for other purpose. The (somewhat confusingly named) leg of mutton cut is a whole joint from inside the shoulder, and is a great piece of beef for pot or slow roasting whole. There’s also the (somewhat controversially named) Jew’s fillet or underblade fillet, a smallish muscle from the top rib that can be seared and left quite pink. The most popular cut from the shoulder is the feather blade – a large muscle taken from along the shoulder blade it has great marbling and lots of flavour. Cook this cut either very slowly if left whole with the gristle in (which become like gelatine after cooking), or cook very fast once seamed out as flat iron steak.
Taken from the underside of the shoulder, brisket is a broad piece with a long line of fat, which is usually trimmed a little and rolled into a joint. Fantastic for pot roasting, and the archetypal cut for salt beef.
The area of flank nearest the head, taken from the lower chest running into the upper belly. Best for casseroling and mincing.
JACOB’S LADDER / SHORT RIBS
The ‘spare rib’ of the cow, if you draw a comparison to pork. Taken from the lower part of the front of the ribcage, big tasty ribs well suited to a long braise then a blast on the barbeque. They can either be separated into individual ribs, or cut across the bones to look like little ladders.
ONGLET / HANGER STEAK
A barrel-shaped muscle cut from along the spine, which is finally finding fame over in the UK as a well flavoured, textured steak cut. It has a strong, almost offally flavour and needs careful treatment in the kitchen, but brings rich reward whether served nice and pink or stewed until tender.
As a steak: get your grill or frying pan extremely hot – a heavy-based pan is best. Season the meat just as it goes in, and cook for six minutes, turning 2-3 times. Don’t move the steak around unless turning it over, as you’ll prevent it from forming a crust. Rest well – if you’re cooking quite a bit, have a heated oven dish ready, lined with foil and place the cooked meat inside while you cook the rest. To serve, slice into pieces across the grain before plating up.
As a braise: onglet makes great braising steak. Leave in relatively large chunks, quickly sear, then slowly braise in a little stock and a tin of tomatoes until really tender. Serve large pieces of tender meat with creamy mash and greens.
THIN FLANK / GOOSE SKIRT / BAVETTE
A flat sheet of muscular taken from the belly of the carcass. It’s quite a textured cut of meat, but can be flash fried or casseroled as for onglet to serve rare or meltingly tender respectively. If you opt for the fast fry method, be sure to slice the meat across the grain into fairly thin, tasty ribbons.
From the lower part of the leg, a cut with a lot of connective tissue but one that gives great reward to the patient cook. Can be bought on or off the bone, though for best results choose the former as the bone marrow adds a beautiful richness. Can be taken from the fore or hind leg of the animal.
Shin can be cut into segments or braised whole. Either way, slowly stew it with plenty of liquid – red wine, beer or water – and some stock vegetables and herbs. Flake from the bone once cooked for a rich ragu.
Beef liver is very strong in flavour, and we recommend stewing it with bacon, onions and vegetables rather than flash-frying as you would with calves’. Your butcher should have trimmed it of any membrane or sinew for you.
A funny looking thing made up of lots of different round-ish blobs. Trim off any fat and gristle, before chopping for use in a particularly beefy steak and kidney pie. It is quite strong in flavour, which is why many cooks use lambs’ kidneys in a stew. The fat from around the kidneys is known as suet – essential in the making of a proper steamed pudding.
Heart is probably the hardest working muscle of all, which means although it can be tough, it’s very lean too. It can be trimmed and very thinly sliced, then marinated and seared or grilled, though is more commonly stewed over a long period of time until tender.