Introduction

Introduction

By
Olivier Bon, Pierre-Charles Cros, Romée de Goriainoff
Contains
0 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742708034
Photographer
Marie-Pierre Morel

The French may be great carnivores – it’s normal for us to eat meat every day – but quantity seems to have taken precedence over quality. Intensive rearing, the complexity of the meat industry, and butchery practices that perhaps are not as good as they used to be, seem to have sounded the death knell for the true taste of beef.

It is to this true taste that we have dedicated The Beef Club, in the fashion of American-style restaurants and in the tradition of the ‘Beefsteak Clubs’ that emerged in London at the beginning of the 18th century. At the most famous of them, ‘The Sublime Society of Beef Steaks’, its members (artists, aristocrats, politicians, military men and even royalty) gathered every Saturday afternoon and were regaled with vast quantities of beef. In a very ‘down-to- earth’ spirit, the meat was washed down only with strong drinks such as porter or punch (the ancestor of the modern cocktail): French-style fine wines were considered an affectation of a clique of aristocrats who were more concerned with the arts and foreign food than the produce of their native soil.

In Paris, we know that there’s nothing pretentious in the way French wine complements the flavour of a fine meat, and we have of course an excellent wine list at The Beef Club. But we decided to also keep alive the tradition of offering a selection of cocktails, which we serve in the Ballroom (the restaurant’s bar in the basement), in spirit of the English establishments that inspired it. And even if the ambience is a little more elegant and less masculine than that of the early English beefsteak clubs or American steakhouses, we have set out to make The Beef Club a friendly place serving delicious food. On the menu are generous dishes for sharing, in a true coming together of French and British traditions.

Everything is centred on meat at its very best: from animals reared and slaughtered with thought; the meat cut and matured by experienced butchers, and then cooked with great skill. Each of these stages is carried out with the expertise that lies at the heart of our restaurant’s success. We hope this book will reflect this, and that it will encourage you to choose and eat – less frequently if necessary – better meat.

Farmed in the heart of North Yorkshire

Our meat at The Beef Club comes directly from Yorkshire, from the Ginger Pig farm where Tim Wilson rears his cows.

A global approach

When we were developing our ‘steak house’ project, we soon ran into a problem. Very few French cattle breeders produce meat that is high in quality, suitable for grilling and, above all, available constantly in sufficient quantity. On a trip to England we met Tim Wilson, one of the world’s most renowned cattle farmers.

Ginger Pig

The name of his farm comes from a rare breed of pig kept by very few farmers. A great enthusiast for British native breeds, Tim wasn't content with merely raising animals. He has revolutionised farming methods, brought back old and cross-breeds, and established his own chain of butcher’s shops in London where his meat is sold. The Ginger Pig farm has around 5,000 animals (cattle, pigs and sheep) of various breeds dating from the 19th century, which are smaller, more active and better suited to cooking on the grill. Some say that his farming is closer to an art than it is to agriculture...

The green meadows of North Yorkshire

As both farmer and butcher, Tim has his eye on the entire supply chain. His farming is designed to obtain the best possible meat while treating the animals with respect. His farm is in Yorkshire, among the grassy meadows of northern England; located away from roads and towns, it is protected from all kinds of pollution. His animals live outdoors, in wide open spaces where they feed on rich grass and some grains: 100 per cent natural food, with no antibiotics. Tim oversees his animals throughout their life, ensuring minimum stress at slaughter time. His approach is to cut out the middleman between farm and plate; at The Beef Club, we receive a delivery once a week, directly from his farm. We know what we’re putting on our plate.

Cattle from Yorkshire to The Beef Club

On his Ginger Pig farm, Tim Wilson raises his cattle with passion. We trust his know-how and expertise to guarantee lovers of good meat the very finest quality.

The breeds

Tim rears four main breeds of cow. He believes that each breed is suited to a particular region and type of land and he selects them on this basis. But he also told us that when he began farming, he chose Longhorn cattle for their beauty, and admits that he likes to have beautiful animals in his meadows! His other breeds are Shorthorns, Herefords and Galloways. Breeding his cattle and rearing the calves – they are kept with their mothers for at least ten months, then slowly allowed to reach maturity – requires a great deal of knowledge, skill and hard work.

None of his animals are slaughtered before the age of 18 months (and often not before 24 months), an eternity (and a rarity) in the current farming world. In his view, this is the time needed to allow the animals to reach maturity and to develop that essential layer of fat that gives the meat its exceptional flavour, which differs according to the breed.

Good meat

After speaking with Tim, we learned that good meat comes first and foremost from good farming. We should always find out about the meat we eat: what breed the animal is, what it has been fed, how long has it been given to mature before slaughter and how long it has been aged.

These are the questions that we should ask when buying meat, and which for us always call for the same answers: a traditional breed suited to the region where it lives, which has been grass-fed and allowed to mature until 30 months old, and hung for at least 28 days. This is the type of meat that we bring to The Beef Club, direct from Yorkshire.

Butchery and ageing of the meat

We mature our beef for at least twenty days in order to give it the best flavour. After slaughter, the meat is hung in a cold room where the temperature is maintained at between 0–2°C; the hanging period depends on the breed, cut and how we intend to cook the beef.

At The Beef Club

It is normal for a traditional butcher to allow the meat to rest for at least a few days after slaughter. At The Beef Club we have chosen to hang the meat ourselves.

From the farm to our cold room

Our meat comes directly from The Ginger Pig farm. Tim, who is a butcher as well as a farmer, slaughters and stores the beef in a cold room in order to start the dry ageing process, which we continue after it has been delivered to us. Tim knows that our needs change depending on how busy we are and always keeps a ‘buffer’ stock for when our demand increases. Our meat is usually delivered to us by Tim himself, but if not he sends a member of his team. When Tim comes to Paris he often brings us other English artisanal products such as cheeses and takes home French produce, which he sells in his Ginger Pig shops. While he’s here he also casts an expert eye over our beef during the dry ageing process.

Cutting

Once or twice a week a butcher will come to prepare the different cuts of meat – ribs, rib-eye and rump steaks, etc. – for us from our matured beef. This is a big job and takes several hours. Here at The Beef Club we grill our meat and the most suitable cuts for this are taken from the hind end of the animal where the muscles have worked moderately during the animal’s life. In contrast, the fore-end is very muscular and the cuts taken from here are more suitable for long, slow cooking. The cuts from the middle of the beef are the most tender as the muscles here have done very little work, so the meat can be cooked quickly and kept very rare.

Dry-ageing at the restaurant

The meat is kept at a constant temperature in a protected environment – our purpose-built cold room. During the maturing process the moisture evaporates from the beef and it develops an outer crust, which helps to tenderise and concentrate the flavour of the meat. Once the beef has been aged for the required amount of time, the butcher meticulously trims away the crust, resulting in a reduction of around 30 per cent of the weight.

And at home?

Dry ageing meat is a craft and should only be done by experienced professionals and not at home. Although cooking destroys most bacteria, if the meat isn’t carefully monitored it can still present risks. Dividing the meat into the various different cuts also requires great skill. So, to enjoy well-aged beef buy it from a butcher who matures his meat for at least 28 days or eat at a restaurant that serves it. Thanks to our close ties with Tim and the butchers we use, and our careful dry ageing process, we serve choice cuts that have been aged for four to six weeks. For some customers we even extend the maturing period to 90 days. All this is what gives our beef an incomparable flavour.

Cooking the beef

After ageing and cutting, cooking is the key stag e in preparing meat. At The Beef Club we use a wood oven, which allows us to achieve very high cooking temperatures, for perfectly seared meat.

So who is Josper?

Our trademark is cooking over charcoal. We use a Josper oven, which is a Spanish brand that is an oven and barbecue grill combined. It doesn’t run on electricity but is instead fired entirely by charcoal. We cook the meat over the hot coals once the flames have died down. There is an adjustable vent system that allows air inside and circulates the smoke, giving us greater control over the temperature, with highs of up to 400°C. This is ideal for searing and caramelizing the meat on the outside, while keeping it very rare inside. You can cook everything on it, including vegetables, fish and shellfish. This traditional cooking method, using modern equipment, gives our food a truly unique flavour while retaining its natural qualities.

At home

With domestic equipment, whether cooking in the oven or on the barbecue, just as much care must be taken in a professional kitchen.

Cooking according to cut

At the restaurant, we cook our beef on the barbecue. You should do the same at home whenever possible, otherwise it is best to use a cast iron griddle pan or frying pan on the stove top, or cook it in the oven. It is important to adapt how you cook the meat according to the cut you are using, ensuring it is ‘nourished’ either by its own fat or by adding fat or liquid to ensure it doesn’t dry out. The natural flavour of the beef should be respected, but can be subtly enhanced or even spiced up with herbs, spices and condiments. Your butcher will be able to advise you on what is the best age and cut of meat to get for how you intend to cook it.

There is no such thing as the perfect cut of meat: the most tender will be the least tasty and the tastier ones will have a firmer bite. It is also a matter of personal preference. There are meats for the trendy, for the snob, for the wise, for cowboys… It’s up to you to try them and find your own favourite cuts of beef. The cuts shown on the next pages are mainly intended for short, rapid cooking, and are at their best served rare…

Core temperatures of the meat:

Temperature for very rare meat: 50°C.

Temperature for rare meat: 55°C.

Temperature for medium meat: 60°C.

Temperature for well-done meat: 70–75°C.

Cooking according to the cut

Rib of beef

As its name suggests, the rib comes from the fore-end of the animal. It is a cut that is suitable for roasting as it contains a layer of fat to ‘nourish’ it well during cooking. This fat and the fact that it is cooked on the bone give it a lot of flavour… Of course, the rib is also perfect for the barbecue. Try it with a Pumpkin Boulangère.

The cut

The rib of beef is towards the back of the fore-end of the animal, between the neck and the sirloin.

The butcher’s choice

A well-marbled rib. 1 kg serves 2 people.

The Beef Club’s advice

The rib should be tender, juicy and fatty, with a more powerful flavour close to the bone. It is the cut that offers the broadest flavour palette. Take care to take the rib out of the fridge 1 hour before cooking so as not to shock the meat.

Rib-eye steak

This is not really from in between the ribs, yet is the same cut as the rib, but deboned. So it has the same kind of properties: fairly tender (as it comes from muscles that work only moderately in the lifetime of the animal) and fairly marbled (although this depends on the farming practices). On the other hand, the absence of bone changes how you cook it, which makes it more an individual than a group cut (although again this depends on the animal and on the butcher). Serve with a nice marrowbone stock, mmmm!

The cut

The cut Rib-eye is also from the fore part of the animal’s back, but without the bones.

The butcher’s choice

A nicely marbled rib-eye, thick and squat so it can be cooked beautifully. Use 250–300 g per rib-eye 2–3 cm thick.

The Beef Club’s advice

Don’t hesitate to choose a fatty piece, the fat will feed moisture to the meat while it cooks.

Sirloin

Another lean cut, nice and tender, with tight fibres, the texture of which must be respected by quick cooking. Serve with a strongly flavoured accompaniment such as Black Turnips or radicchio.

The cut

The sirloin is between the ribs and the rump. It is one of the superior cuts.

The butcher’s choice

A juicy, tender sirloin, slightly marbled with fat. 250–350 g per sirloin 2–2.5 cm thick.

The Beef Club’s advice

Remove the gristle but leave the covering of fat.

Fillet

This cut is highly prized because it comes from a muscle that works little and therefore produces a very tender meat. Because it is not fatty it has the reputation of being a lady’s steak. It is delicious rare, served with a tasty sauce such as stilton.

The cut

The fillet comes from the back of the animal, level with the lumbar vertebrae.

The butcher’s choice

A cut that has little fat and delicate fibres, elegant with a sweet flavour. Use 180–220 g per fillet.

The Beef Club’s advice

Mature the fillet in order to give it a stronger flavour. Ask your butcher to do this for you.

Rump

The steak for the real steak lover: full of flavour with a nice firm bite. It is taken from the rump of the animal. It must be aged well. It is best fairly thick, cooked relatively quickly on a very powerful heat source and cut into fine strips.

The cut

From the rear of the animal, between the sirloin and the rump, it carries little fat and has long fibres.

The butcher’s choice

A nice thick rump steak is a very juicy cut with a powerful flavour. Use 180–220 g per rump steak 3–4 cm thick.

The Beef Club’s advice

Retain the covering of fat.

Top rump

Yet another of this group of really tasty steaks, this is a very tender cut, low in fat. It is firmer in the mouth than a fillet steak but also has more flavour! Serve with a Béarnaise Sauce and Potato Wedges, of course.

The cut

It is close to the rump, separated by gristle.

The butcher’s choice

A lean cut. Use 180–220 g per medallion 3–4 cm thick.

The Beef Club’s advice

Cut into thick medallions.

Picanha/Rump-cap

Picanha, more commonly known as the rump cap, is a Brazilian or Argentinian cut. Taken from the upper base of the tail, it is a tender and marbled cut, which is best suited for cooking on a barbecue as it brings out the flavours of the meat. It is also used in steak tartare.

The cut

Taken from the top of the rump with its layer of fat left on and is cut against the grain of the fibre.

The butcher’s choice

A picanha with a high muscle/fat ratio cut from a well-aged animal. Use 220–300 g per picanha.

The Beef Club’s advice

A cut for real meat lovers!

Royal

This is the king, and yet it is not very well known! Indeed the name relates mainly to a very little-known cut applied to precious, tasty areas of the rump. A royal cut needs royal cooking. This rare cut needs a cook as skilful as the butcher who trims it. It deserves a fine accompaniment such as well buttered spinach as it is rather lean.

The cut

It comes from the area between the sirloin and the rump. It’s a thick slice of sirloin that has had its covering of fat completely removed along with any gristle.

The butcher’s choice

A nicely marbled royal, tender and flavoursome. Use 600–800 g, then cut into 200–400 g pieces.

The Beef Club’s advice

It must be watched closely, as it’s a cut that requires special attention during cooking.

Spider steak/pope’s eye

A popular cut in France, this is our name for a 300-400 g cut with a web of marbled fat. Not particularly attractive to look at but delicious, they remind us of what French butchers call ‘araignée’ (one piece of the animal’s groin, formed from one main piece and eight long spider like pieces – hence the name). Tender and tasty, these cuts are grilled rare and eaten with a sauce and a garnish that is not too elaborate.

The cut

Langue de chat, which is in the rump – a small very juicy muscle with a firm texture.

The ‘tail’ of the fillet, which is the pointed end of the tenderloin.

The side strap or chain of the tenderloin or fillet – this is a fibrous muscle on the fillet.

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