Category Archives: Beef

Beef ‘n’ Barra

A fine name for a pub, though The Buff’n’Barra might be more appropriate here in the Top End. Better keep that from the ‘Hoff’, who’s apparently going to build a bar somewhere around here Casablanca style. Anyway, a classic leftover concoction here. We had an amazing sunset barbecue on Simon’s wee chunk of land here in Katherine, a 200acre nature playground. I took along a side of Barra kindly given by Mel, and we threw that on the hot plate over charcoal with no adornment. Most of it got left as the shoulder of pork was beautiful and even crackled successfully over hot coals. So tonight, on my tod, I made an Indonesian flavour noodle soup. I had some deeply amazing beef stock from some roast beef ribs (roasted 5 hrs) and a left over bit of ‘roo thigh bone. To this, some insane homemade paste from out local shop in Wanguri, weirdly, which must have chillies, shallots and balacan (fermented prawn brick) amongst other unknowns. I had some leftover fatty rib meat, the barra, a mushroom, some rice and mung bean noodles and some spinach and rocket mix which I just put in the end to wilt. Washed down with Vale/Dark as shown. Glorious.

Shona picked up a bag of beef bones at the supermarket on the tip off from an Italian guy who was prcuring offal of some kind, though I think he suggested these were for the dog. Little does he know the joyous lubricant that resides in dem bones- which is odd, given osso bucco, (later). Maybe $6 for the pile shown, and what a marrow harvest, wow. I used some on a pizza, which I think I just served plain. I do remember it was the finest pizza night ever. What to use on next……?

The bones I roasted and made a spiffing stock. Maybe next time I’ll do Fergus Henderson’s signature roast marrow bone salad. Oooh, some sourdough to smear that on would be divine…….


The dessert pizza reappeared, but this incarnation included some rather sour plums with a nice dark skin. I was really chuffed with how this turned out. The plums were delicious. It’s amazing how some fruits just explode into life after cooking, the skins seem to be the treasure box of flavour. I’m never that taken with blueberries until you cook the buggers. A decent sprinkle of vanilla sugar and some butter for, well, obvious reasons. Maybe I should try this with a

Shona found a recipe for ‘Tuscan rabbit’. I don’t have it to hand, but bloody hell, it was amazing. Ah, here it is. I’m usually a bit suspect of tomatoey concoctions, I often find them a bit too bloody tomatoey, allowing not much other flavour to express. But this was bloody amazing. Lovely sweetness from the onions, and the fennel was a subtle background too. Very nice. Shona made a huge amount of sauce so this has reappeared with some ‘luv a duck’ pork and duck fennel sausages. They are very fine meaty sausages, more suited to this cooking than a bbq. Definitely not a snag or banger.


Now Woolies has a few things over Coles, and these veal osso bucco are one of them. The last OB’s I did was beef, and it suggested to me why veal is preferable for the wet stove fry method. The beef ones quite dried up and contorted by the time they were edible. These veal beauties were cooked in 1.5 hrs or so, stayed moist and didn’t buckle up over themselves. Just slow cooked adding only white wine, and then some bonkers purple carrots to cook as shown. Should have used the excess marrow above for a risotto Milanese……



Cheeky Amber, Pizza Nero

I haven’t cooked beef cheeks since we were last in Sydney in 2006, and the continued ban on cow head use in the UK meant this cut hasn’t been a goer for over a decade. Though tongue has continued to be available- not sure how that works? Clearly prions are more likely to be located in chewing muscles, not lingual ones as they are closer to the brain??

Shona picked up some organic cheeks from meat direct, who’ve been popping up some meaty treats this last month or so.

As you can see, these fellas are beautifully marbled and had copious chewy related connective tissue running through them- they might be the most resilient meat I’ve ever had the pleasure to slice. Even the Samurai knife had to be pushed through this with some effort.

A few of options sprang tom mind with this; with ceps, with beer or sweet soy anise, as Shona does with the belly pork. I’m currently loving the Rogers beer from Little Creatures, but Shona picked up some seriously pongy ceps from Greenies. The beer won (a cep risotto was later made).

  • 1 bottle Rogers ale
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots
  • bay leaf

All in a pan and the beer reduced to half volume. The cheeks (about 800g total) were chopped into largish chunks, and put in the slow cooker. The beery liquor strained off and poured over the cheeks, and left to cook for about 8hr.

Smashed Nicola potatoes and carrots, newly made English mustard and washed down with Roger, naturally. Had I been thinking, some suet dumplings would have been tremendous. Just need suet……

Meat direct also had some Polish black pudding. I cooked slice till just crisp with some pancetta (home made) and some olive oil, in a baking tray as pizza number one was cooking above. Pizza no2 got this porky assault and my god it was good.

I’ve also added a few chunks to a butter bean and kale soup which was heart warming stuff and completely inappropriate for this climate. Nevermind.

Cow Arse In Wood Burning Stove

Cow arse

My continuing failure to cut down on the red stuff is shown in all it’s glory above. But hey, it was local from the Margaret river Gourmet Meats Butchery. This was a decent chunk and what better way than to grill over white hot eucalypt embers. Extreme indoor barbecuing, inspired by the indoor wood grill at the friend of a friends in Siena, and contunued with mild oil splatterring onto slate in Scotland. There really isn’t the need for such idiocy in the tropics, but 35 deg south, it was chilly. Now you can see the three gluteal muscle groups on the above cut- gluteus minimus, maximus and medius. Though different to human. Ummmm.

Extreme stoving

Err, more meat

Now then, two lamb shanks is not enough to feed a family of four so I made the cunning garnish addition of four chunky bacon steaks from the very fine McHenry Hohnen vinyard and farm shop. There is a butchery attached to the cafe and amongst many fine meats, they sell short loin bacon joints so you can cut them as thick as you want. It’s barely cured at all, but  is smoked, and tastes fantastic. The shanks I cooked with celery, onion, a carrot, bay leaf and a decent slug of Roger’s beer from the mighty Little Creatures brewery. When the shanks were falling apart, I took the squishy veg out and put in a load of chopped carrots. Some lovely mashed royal blue potatoes, chard and 3 Little Creatures beer (and maybe a LC’s bloody good cider?) to wash it all down with.

Having missed out on buying some live marrons from the Freemantle Market, we really had to get hold of some lobster- well, crayfish. Luckily in Augusta we found a reputable fishmonger selling cooked frozen local beasts. Having got the other beasts to bed we cracked open a bottle of superb chardonnay from Stella Bella (Serie Luminosa 2009), and ate as much as we could with chunks of sourdough and butter from the wonderful Margaret River Bakery. There was so much, we ate some for breakfast with scrambled egg in the morning, and then still had some left over. I managed to chill it (with some frozen meat) all the way home to make a crayfish and potato pizza, which was very fine too. Almost a budget meal then. Not.

10000 litre stare

This was what I wore when I looked up the reference after I berated a lentil knitting nurse for suggesting the ridiculous idea that the water footprint per kilo of beef was 14000L. Yes, PER KILO, really quite staggering, and amounting to 1769000L, or 1769 tonnes per beast.

So, in order to reduce the cattle population, Shona bought a whole fillet of organic beef from Meat Direct for a bewildering $45. Simon Hopkinson gives a recipe for Boeuf Bordelais using fillet rather than *entrecote. It would be a lot easier if an anatomist just got in there and named the muscles and the levels, say, wrt rib number etc. There’s an idea. Anyway, Simon’s preparation involves making a beef red wine reduction and a wobbly cylinder of marrow fat to garnish which sounds a sublime way to lubricte a potentially dryish cut.

In the absence of marrow bones, I went back to the other lubricant of choice, hollandaise sauce, and I still had some prawn butter to finish off in the freezer. I meant to slow fry the red pepper, shallot and loofah, but it stewed into a ratatouille affair. Leconfield Cab Sauvignon 2009, thanks to Rob.

* (=between the ribs??, which I think is equivelent to ribeye, not between the ribs at all, but ‘sur’  i.e. on, as in ‘sur the loin’–> sirloin)

PS- I did apologise to the nurse.

The above incarnation used the recipe below from Shona’s sister with the obvious addition of walnuts, which toast very nicely if you scatter them on top.

Yes, you read correctly, it is one cup of cocoa and even more sugar, hence this kept me going on the five day Alice springs mountain bike race, though a bit more salt next time. It beats overpriced lumo gnats piss ‘sports’ powder.

Porterhouse blues

The only blue issue here was the fact it wasn’t grass fed/ organic, but hey, it was an obscenely well padded chunk of cow, so I couldn’t resist. Hugh FW doesn’t know the origin of the name, and a quick internet trawl didn’t help either. Whatever the etymology, it’s somewhere between the wing rib and surloin. I’m not even sure we’ve had this cut before, possibly on a barbecue in California?  I portioned this joint up into 3 one inch thick beasts. I felt compelled to remove a little of the fat, save that for another outing. Hugh likes his steaks fried, and on this occasion, I followed suit, mainly due to the fact that the copious fat would just flame and soot the steak, not a good look or tatste.

Firstly, I lined up all the steaks fat side down onto a frying pan to melt some of the fat. Then, some fresh Asian shallots with a few inches of stem. Meanwhile the chips (desiree and purple sweet potato) on the go, in the MI inducing hardened coconut oil, copha. Then fried some bread in the beef fat with a little olive oil to help counter the only mildy atherogenic beef lipid. When golden, these came off and up went the heat. Three big steaks was a bit much for my burner, but we all needed to eat. Anyway, they didn’t stew. Some fresh rocket, tomato and cucumber salad, and in a effort to recreate home grated horseradish sauce, some Keen’s mustard powder and wasabi powder mixed together. 

Chuck over the grass

It’s odd that beef here is often sold with the declaration of ‘grain-fed’. I’m not sure this is something I would go shouting about. So, it was great that Shona found some grass fed organic beef at the rather good Meat Direct in Rapid Creek. They specialise in large lumps of quality  meat, which is clearly, is a fine thing. We had a 2.7kg slab of chuck steak, which is from the shoulder. Mum made a very good red pepper stew when she was here and then I minced some. Hugh Fearnley is correct in his ‘River Cottage Meat’ book,  they were average burgers. However, it really shined in tonight’s slow cooking feast. I picked up some lovely looking local tomatoes from the market. In fact, I bought three types as the season has really taken off here, which is a bit weird, as it parallels the season back home in Blighty. That’s the wet season for you, tomatoes just rot.

So, a kilo or so of cubed chuck steak, browned in olive oil, and then deglazed the pan with cheapo balsamic vinegar, and into the slow cooker. Tomatoes halved, in ,and then five deseeded and chopped narrow curly green capsicums, with just a hint of heat. In the slow cooker for about 8 hours until the tendinous parts were soft. Actually, that was yesterday, so by  tonight the flavours had married. I made some mash with desiree potatoes, putting an elephant garlic clove in to boil too, though three might have been a bit more gutsy. Olive oil and butter, and the choppped shoots from the Asian shallots, which interestingly, seem to also be in season now too- I will have to stock up.

Now to salt some lemons.