Beef up your Sunday lunch

Roasts are a rare breed nowadays, but there are plenty of other ways to tackle the task, says Mark Hix

The French have finally stopped thinking of us as les rosbifs. At least that was the impression I got on a recent rosé-tasting trip to Provence. When I showed them a copy of my new book, The Simple Art of Marrying Food and Wine, written with Malcolm Gluck, a couple of the wine producers had to admit we've moved on from the traditional roast beef and claret, even if they find marriages such as South African pinotage with black truffles hard to swallow.

Roast beef isn't the be all and end all of Sunday lunch, as once it was, but I think we're becoming more knowledgeable about our cuts of meat, and these days aren't afraid to buy a rib of beef with a good layer of yellow fat and roast it so it's pink in the middle. People want to know where the beast comes from, not just what temperature to roast it at.

Some farmers are re-introducing rare breeds. A friend of mine who owns a farm in Devon recently asked me down to cook some fillets of his White Park cattle, and the meat was fantastic. They are the oldest breed of cattle in the UK but there are only about 450 breeding White Park cows left in the country and they're incredibly highly prized.

For British Food Fortnight, earlier this month, the chef at the Butler's Wharf Chophouse in London bought a whole White Park cow to serve at his restaurant. They are bred at Cranborne Estate in Dorset and sold at the local store belonging to the estate ( www.cranborne.co.uk). Other rare and traditional breeds that are especially delicious are Belted Galloways and Red Polls. Every region of Britain used to have its own unique breeds, but some have inter-bred over the years and some have died off altogether. In our restaurants, we use Glen Fyne cattle, a cross of local breeds that live out on the Highlands.

The problem with rare breeds, as with all meat, is that everyone wants to use the same prime cuts, but the farmers and butchers obviously need to sell every part of the beast. We should try out different cuts which are often cheaper, but full of flavour. That way we can experience the taste of the best beef without breaking the bank by buying fillet steak. Bavette, or flank, for instance, is used in France for steak frites. It is a little chewier than sirloin but has lots more flavour. And braising cuts such as the cheek and shin are usually sold minced or diced, when they're really good left intact in casseroles, daubes and stews.

Steak haché

Serves 4

Steak haché, or chopped steak, is the posh hamburger of France. It owes everything to the quality and freshness of the meat. If you go to a good butcher's shop in France they will mince and mould it in front of you so all you need to do is season and cook it like a steak.

I prefer to use minced rib of beef, although topside will work equally well as long as you add a bit of extra fat to keep it moist during cooking. You could ask the butcher to mince a bit of fat in with it, from a rib preferably.

What you serve with your steak haché is up to you. Chips or salad would make a good start and anything from béarnaise or bordelaise sauce to ketchup goes down a treat.

800g fresh, coarsely minced beef (rib, topside or sirloin) with 20-30 per cent fat
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A little oil for grilling

Mould the meat into 4 pattie shapes - the best way is to push the meat into a round or oval pastry cutter. Season the meat and lightly oil a ribbed griddle, barbecue or heavy-based frying pan. Cook for 21/2-3 minutes on each side for rare and approximately 2 minutes more for medium. Serve with the sauce underneath to make it look more like a grown up's than a children's supper.

Pho bo (Hanoi beef noodle soup)

Serves 4-6

For years I thought this Vietnamese workman's soup was pronounced as it reads, ie "fo". When I did get round to actually tackling Heui, my local Vietnamese restaurateur at Cay Tre, in Shoreditch, east London, he said it as "fff", as if he were about to tell me to go away.

So pho is rather like a sort of noodly French pot au feu - which is handy as feu sounds almost the same in French as pho does in Vietnamese. It's a soup of the moment where almost anything can go in the pot. But the stock base is essential. I've eaten watery phos where they haven't got this right, so it's worth taking the trouble to make a proper stock.

The best and most authentic versions of pho I've eaten contain beef tendons and tripe as well as brisket and thin slivers of raw beef, just added at the last moment. If you can't find these in your local butchers then the flavour of the braising beef will make a good stock for your pot au pho.

For the stock

2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
A small piece of galangal, or ginger, scraped and roughly chopped
500g braising beef (cheek, brisket or shin)
150g beef tendon (optional)
2 kaffir lime leaves
1 stick of lemon grass
1 star anise
2-3cm cinnamon
3 cardamom pods
1tsp black peppercorns

For the soup

150g beef sirloin, or fillet

60g cooked beef tripe, thinly sliced (optional)
150-200g bahn pho dried rice sticks, or flat rice noodles
4-6 spring onions. trimmed and shredded on the angle
1 small red chilli, thinly sliced
2tbsp fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc mam)
50g beansprouts
A few sprigs of coriander
A few sprigs of Asian sweet basil

First make the stock: spread the onions and ginger on silver foil and put them under the grill for 6-7 minutes until browned (be careful not to let them burn) then put them in a large pot with all the other ingredients and a couple of litres of water, bring to the boil, skim and simmer for 2 hours, or until the beef is tender.

Strain through a fine-meshed sieve and remove and put aside the beef and tendons (if you're using them). Season the stock to taste and return to a clean pan and bring to a simmer. Cut the cooked beef into chunks and divide into large Chinese-style soup bowls with the tendons (if you're using them).

Cut the raw beef into paper-thin slices. This may be easier if you freeze it for 30 minutes to 1 hour first then slice it. Cut each slice into rough 3cm squares and distribute between the soup bowls. If you're being really authentic and using tripe, add this now.

Meanwhile soak the rice sticks in cold water for 30 minutes then drain and cook for 1 minute in lightly salted, boiling water and drain, then briefly run under cold water, drain and divide into the soup bowls. Simmer the spring onions, chilli, fish sauce, beansprouts, coriander and basil in the broth for a couple more minutes then pour into the soup bowls.

Spiced beef

Serves 8-10

Once popular all over Britain, now this only seems to be found in Ireland and occasionally the Midlands. It's commonly known as huntsman's beef. For centuries meat would have been preserved by salting, and this method is more than likely a development of that process with some festive spice added. I recommend having one of these around for Christmas, for unexpected guests and family.

The longer the beef is cured, the longer it will keep, though now we all have fridges traditional ways of preserving meat aren't as essential. Saltpetre is used in commercial charcuterie and meat curing but it's difficult to get hold of in small quantities. Try the Natural Casing Company in Farnham, Surrey (01252 713545, www.naturalcasingco.co.uk).

1.5kg-2kg piece of boned and rolled brisket, topside, or thick flank
80g sea salt
10g saltpetre
15g coarsely ground black peppercorns
15g ground all spice
15g ground juniper berries
50g dark brown sugar, like moscavado

Put the beef into a close-fitting casserole, stainless-steel saucepan or plastic container with a top. Mix all the ingredients together and rub into the beef. Cover and leave in the fridge for 10-12 days, turning it once or twice a day.

Preheat the oven to 150C/gas mark 2. Wipe off all the bits of marinade, then, if you've been keeping the beef in a casserole, rinse it out and put the beef back, or find an oven-proof dish that's a snug fit for the beef. Put a couple of layers of foil over the pot then fit the lid tightly. Cook for 3 hours then remove from the oven and leave to cool for 3 hours. Remove the beef and wipe with kitchen paper. Wrap the beef in clingfilm and put into clean dish with a weight on top and refrigerate for 24 hours. Re-wrap and keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

Serve thinly sliced as you would for ham, with pickles, or as a sandwich.

Braised beef short ribs with red wine and carrots

Serves 4

These ribs are the by-product of the Sunday rib roast. They would normally get sawn off in the factory, stripped of their meat for mince and discarded, or sold to chefs for the stock pot. Between these ribs you find probably the tastiest morsels on the beast, perfect for traditional British, French and Asian braises where cuts such as flank, brisket or shin would normally be used. Your butcher may have some to hand and if he does would probably part with them for a nominal price - well, hopefully. Or, ask him to save you some..

2kg beef short ribs, cut to about 10cm
2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
2tbsp flour
1tsp tomato purée
300ml red wine
2 litres beef stock
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
A few sprigs of thyme
5 black peppercorns
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the carrots
250g small carrots, peeled
A good knob of butter
2tsp sugar
1tbsp chopped parsley

Pre-heat the oven to 220C/Gas mark 7. Season and scatter 1tbsp of the flour on the beef f

ribs. Cook them in a roasting tray in the oven with the onion and celery for 30-40 minutes, turning every so often until nicely browned. Transfer the vegetables and ribs to a heavy-bottomed saucepan, leaving any fat in the pan. Add the rest of the flour and tomato purée to the roasting pan and stir over a low heat on top of the stove for a minute. Gradually add the red wine and beef stock, stirring well to avoid lumps forming. Bring to the boil and add to the pan with the ribs and vegetables. Add the bay leaf, thyme and peppercorns, season, cover and simmer gently for 11/2-2 hours, or until the meat is tender. Check it by removing a piece from the pot, it should be almost falling off the bone without being too soft.

Remove the ribs and vegetables from the sauce and continue simmering the sauce until it thickens to a rich gravy-like consistency. You can dilute a little cornflour in water and stir it in if it's not thick enough.

Meanwhile cover the carrots with water, add the butter and sugar and season with salt and pepper. Cook on a medium heat for 10-12 minutes until tender, then drain and toss in the parsley.

To serve, re-heat the ribs in the sauce, discarding the vegetables and herbs, and serve with the carrots spooned over.

Sauce diable

There are all sorts of recipes for this classic, spicy-in-a-French-sort-of-way sauce. It's a kind of au poivre with a devillish, piquant kick, and it's particularly good with beef, veal or pork. This is my version.

4 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
6-10 black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
A good pinch of cayenne pepper
3tbsp red wine vinegar
3tbsp water
40g butter
2tsp flour
200ml beef stock (a good cube dissolved in 200ml water will do, though fresh is better)
1tsp Dijon mustard
60ml double cream
8 small gherkins, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the shallots, peppercorns and cayenne pepper in a saucepan with the vinegar and water. Simmer gently until the liquid has almost evaporated then add the butter and stir in the flour. Gradually add the beef stock, stirring to avoid lumps forming, season lightly, add the mustard and simmer gently for 10-12 minutes. Add the double cream and continue to simmer until the sauce is of a thick, gravy-like consistency. Add the gherkins and serve. E

Mark Hix's latest book, 'The Simple Art of Marrying Food and Wine', co-written by Malcolm Gluck, is published by Mitchell Beazley, £20. Order for £18 plus free p&p from Independent Books Direct on 08700 798897

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Manager

    £50 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Mana...

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits