The Best of Irish Beef

Irish beef is considered among the best in the world, as our animals feed on lush grass for most of the year.

I like to buy my beef after it has been hung for a minimum of 21 days, as this gives time for the enzymes in the meat to break down the fibres, making for more tender and flavoursome cuts. When buying beef, look for a ruby red colour with some creamy-white fat marbling through the meat, which helps with the basting during the cooking process.

The ultimate Sunday dinner has to be roast beef, roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings, served with seasonal vegetables and of course, gravy. The high quality of Irish beef is what makes it a recipe for success at every family dinner and I'd like to take the mystery out of what beef to use when cooking for your family and which cuts are more suitable to a slower and longer cooking process.

The best beef cuts for roasting in the oven are fillet, sirloin or striploin, and my personal favourite, the bone-in top rib of beef.

For a very special occasion I'd go for either a striploin or ribeye-on-the-bone. Leaving the bone in during cooking helps the joint retain moisture and flavour, and also speeds up the cooking time. Ask your local butcher for advice when selecting your beef - they are only too pleased to offer their assistance - and to ensure a succulent joint, look out for a good marbling of fat.

The fillet is taken from the back of the animal and is the most tender part. It's normally cut into steaks but makes a lovely roast once the fillet has been well aged - serve as rare as you dare! Get started with my beef wellington recipe here.

Topside, round roast and housekeepers cuts are more economical cuts of meat more suited to slow roasting. Sometimes they're marinated in wine, herbs and spices before cooking to tenderise the meat, and the marinade can also add flavour to the sauce.

Here are a few tips to make that perfect roast dinner:

  • Allow the joint to come up to room temperature for a few hours before roasting it so the cooking time will be more accurate.
  • When seasoning the beef, take care not to over salt it, as salt draws out the juices and can cause dryness.
  • Use a roasting tin that is just a little bigger than your joint. If the tin is too big, the juices will spread out and burn, which is not a good thing because you need them to make your gravy or sauce.
  • Roast the beef at a high temperature for about 15 minutes to get the heat through to the centre of the joint. Then reduce the temperature to 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3 and continue to roast for 12-13 minutes per 500g for rare, 17-18 minutes per 500g for medium, or 22-24 minutes per 500g for well done. Foil can be used to keep in moisture, particularly in more economical joints of beef.
  • For roast beef, allow it to rest for 20 – 25 minutes, which allows it to relax, ensuring a juicier slice of meat.
  • Remove fat from roasting juices by carefully skimming it off. Another way of doing this is to pour the pan juices into a jug, then place the jug in cold water (even add ice cubes), which makes the fat solidify quickly, so it's easy to remove with a spoon. Return the juices to the roasting pan to make delicious flavoursome gravy.

 My beef and curry pie is a great dish to use leftover beef

If you're lucky enough to have any leftover beef, don't just think sandwiches (though they are lovely!). My beef and curry pie is a great dish to use leftover beef without feeling that you are having leftovers. Another very handy recipe to have in your repertoire is a leftover Cottage or Shepherds Pie, using finely chopped leftover meat, leftover vegetables with gravy and mash – delicious!

When cooking for a family, my best advice is to ask the experts. The butchers at SuperValu are delighted to advise you on the best cuts for your requirements, just ask!

Kevin

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