It’s revered for its health properties, specifically its iron reserves; and it’s a meat for all budgets and occasions, from the comforting familiarity of a bowl of spaghetti bolognaise at home to a premium cut served in rarified surrounds at a top restaurant or steakhouse.
The savoury flavour of cooked beef means that it pairs well with strong flavours. It combines beautifully with the warm spice of paprika, tomato paste, brandy and Worcestershire sauce to produce a beef stroganoff, or with the autumnal flavours of pumpkin, onion, and red wine for a fancy fillet for dinner.
But for lighter appetites there’s always beef tartare, France’s famous raw dice spiked with sharpness and acidity from pickles and mustard, or the tropical heat of a Thai beef salad made punchy with garlic, lemon juice and chilli.
Master The Basics With A Perfect Steak
The best place to start with beef is with Curtis Stone's perfect steak. Yes, it’s a quick, healthy and delicious dinner, but you’ll get much better results cooking steak at home with a little bit of forethought.
Firstly, get your meat to room temperature - it’ll ensure a more even cook. Season both sides with salt and pepper before cooking and rub with olive oil. You can cook a steak in a cast iron pan, on a grill plate, or outside on the barbecue – it doesn’t matter so long as you have your cooking surface nice and hot.
If there is a fat cap on your steak it’s a nice idea to hold it to the hot surface for 20 seconds as you turn your steaks to render some of the fat out. Resting your steaks is also essential (it allows the juices to move back into the meat before you slice it), and if you place them on a rack rather than in a dish they won’t stew in their own juices and wet the bronze crust on the steak.
Once you have your steak cooking down pat, you can get creative, mixing up sauces, marinades or giving a steak supper a Mexican make-over.
Don’t Overlook The Secondary Cuts
Your classic steak cuts like porterhouse (sirloin), rump, t-bone, eye fillet and skirt are quick to cook, but there are lots of secondary beef cuts that benefit from long slow cooking to make them meltingly tender. Pressure cooking chuck steak for a classic stout-braised beef pie filling results in fall-apart beef in a fraction of the normal cook time needed to break down those hard working muscles.
If you really want to take your beef repertoire to the next level, challenge yourself to a beef Wellington. This famous centrepiece is a labour of love. You take a fillet of beef, wrap it in an umami mushroom filling, Iberico ham slices, and fresh crepes and serve with an aromatic, rich brown sauce made from beef bones, wine and herbs.