Serious ribbing: Hix's picnic with a twist

With a great piece of beef as the centrepiece, Mark Hix serves up a classic summer picnic with a difference. Photographs by Jason Lowe

A few weeks back I managed to get some time off and I travelled down to my friend's country pad in Devon to check out his herd of Bickleigh white park cattle and to have a gastronomic weekend enjoying the local and seasonal treats. I always like to cook on the hoof, as it were: planning ahead often lacks excitement. I grabbed a lift down with Ewan Venters of Selfridges who borrowed Marco Pierre White's smart Range Rover, though without Marco's famous assistant Mr Ishi to guide us in.

Brian Boylan, along with his farmer buddy John Lean, has one of the largest herds of rare-breed white park cattle in the country and a couple of times a month I manage to procure a couple of wing ribs – just about enough to serve six double portions, for my Chop House. The rest is sold exclusively in Selfridges Food Hall (0800 123 400) and sells out in no time.

We started off the weekend with a delicious meal of wing ribs and fillet, which was accompanied by local asparagus from Halberton Farm Shop (01884 821458) and finished off with freshly picked strawberries. My contribution to the meal came in the form of some gull's eggs, my home-smoked De Beauvoir salmon and some of Peter Gott's black pudding.

We were also joined by the food writer Aggie MacKenzie who looked after all of our baking requirements for the weekend – from her morning rolls filled with black pudding – which were scoffed in no time – to her amazing shortbread, the recipe for which I managed to prise out of her over a few glasses of wine over dinner.

It all added up to a glorious weekend, surrounded by wild flowers, in secluded Devon, and I was inspired to create these picnic-style recipes using beef. Most food can be transported to a picnic; you don't have to stick with the usual suspects of sandwiches, Scotch eggs and chicken drumsticks. So, here's something a little different.

Green bean and shallot salad with horseradish

Serves 4-6

Green beans are a great, simple and easy-to-prepare salad ingredient. You can either use the slimline French beans, bobby beans, runners or a mixture of the three. Green beans and cold roast beef (see the following recipe) are a perfect summer combo and freshly grated horseradish adds a great kick.



250g green beans, topped and tailed

4 shallots, peeled and finely chopped

2-3tbsp freshly grated horseradish



For the dressing

1tbsp cider vinegar

4tbsp rapeseed oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper



Cook the green beans in boiling salted water for 3-4 minutes until tender. Meanwhile simmer the shallots with the horseradish in the vinegar and the same amount of water until the liquid has reduced by half. Whisk in the oil and season. Toss the beans in the dressing and season again if necessary.



Cold roast Bickleigh white park wing rib of beef

Serves 4-6

The wing rib is basically the bit between the sirloin and the forerib. If you can't get your hands on the Bickleigh wing rib from Selfridges Food Hall (because I've nicked it all for the Oyster and Chop House), then a good butcher should be able to supply you with one. A two-bone rib should be enough for 4-6 servings and it doesn't have as much fat surrounding the eye of meat as a fore rib so it's perfect for a cold roast joint.



A two-bone wing rib weighing about 1.5kg

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

A little vegetable oil for brushing



For the mustard mayonnaise

4-5tbsp good quality or home-made mayonnaise

2tbsp grain mustard

1tbsp Dijon or English mustard

Pre-heat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7. Cut the wing rib in half through the bones, then season well and brush with oil. Heat a heavy roasting tray on the stove and brown the beef on all sides. Transfer to the oven and cook for about 20 minutes for rare and another 10 minutes for medium rare. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Mix all of the ingredients for the mustard mayonnaise and transfer to a serving dish.

Take a wooden carving board and a sharp knife to your picnic and slice the beef when you're ready to serve it.



Beef flank tartare

Serves 4

Most people (and restaurants) are obsessed with using the best tender cuts for steak tartare. Firstly, the really tender cuts don't have that much flavour, and secondly, they're bloody expensive. The natural grain of a flank or skirt lends itself perfectly to the meat being chopped into tartare.



500g very fresh lean fillet, sirloin or topside steak, flank or skirt, finely chopped

2-3 medium shallots, peeled, halved and very finely chopped

50g capers, drained, rinsed and finely chopped

50g gherkins, finely chopped

2tsp brandy

1/2tbsp tomato ketchup

2tsp Worcestershire sauce

A few dashes of Tabasco

1tbsp olive oil

Egg yolk

Salt and freshly ground black pepper



With a very sharp chopping knife, slice the meat into very thin strips along the grain of the meat, and then chop it again as finely as possible. Mix all of the ingredients together and season to taste. You may wish to add a little more Tabasco, ketchup or Worcestershire sauce, it's up to you. Spoon the steak tartare on to a plate or, if you prefer, push it into a ring mould. Serve with a leaf salad and chips, or toast, and a single egg yolk.

Yearlstone and raspberry jelly

Serves 4

Behind Brian's house and over the stream is the Yearlstone Vineyard, the oldest vineyard in Devon. The vineyard was started up in 1976 and is now owned by Roger and Juliet White. We took a selection of the Yearlstone wines back to sample with our picnic and we were most impressed with the 2006 sparkling brut, which would sit happily alongside other international sparkling wines that I've tasted – including some of the great prosceccos.

Anyway, what with me being a jelly freak and always looking for new inspiration, I thought I should go to task and get making a jelly from the local wine and raspberries that Brian picked up from the farmers' market.



150g caster sugar

5 sheets leaf gelatine

350ml 2006 Yearlstone brut or another similar

120g soft fruit such as raspberries, sliced strawberries, blueberries, redcurrants



Bring 200ml of water to the boil. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved, then remove from heat. Soak the gelatine leaves in a shallow bowl of cold water for a minute or so until soft. Squeeze out the water and add the gelatine to the syrup along with the wine. Stir until fully dissolved.

Put the jelly somewhere cool, but don't let it set. Fill individual jelly moulds, or one large one, with half the berries, then pour in half of the cooled jelly. Put in the fridge for an hour or so to set, then top up with the rest of the berries and unset jelly. This allows the berries to stay suspended and not float to the top. Return to the fridge. To serve, turn out, and offer thick Jersey cream to go with it.

Mark Hix will be at the Taste of London festival ( www.tastelondon.co.uk) in Regent's Park today, where he'll be giving a talk and signing copies of his book, 'British Regional Food', at the Waterstones Book Lounge

Suggested Topics
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
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
News
Floyd
newsFloyd 'Creeky' Creekmore still performed regularly to raise money for local hospitals
Extras
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
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

    Service Charge Accountant

    30,000 to 35,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: We are currently recruiting on...

    Management Accountant

    28,000 to 32,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: Our client, a hospitality busi...

    Food and Beverage Cost Controller

    18,000 to 20,000 per annum: Accountancy Action: Our fantastic leisure client i...

    Marketing Analyst / Marketing Executive

    £20 - 24k: Guru Careers: A Marketing Analyst / Marketing Executive is needed t...

    Day In a Page

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?