“ The corner stone of great cooking is great ingredients “
(Neil Perry, Australian Chef)
That corner stone starts even before the farm. It starts with the farmer taking the decision to rear proper beef cattle ; the important distinction to make from the start is between dairy cows bred for milk and suckler beef cattle, bred for beef.
Much of what is sold in this country, predominantly but not exclusively through supermarkets is from the Dairy Returns programme. Cows bred for milk are incapable of putting on fat ( which gives meat flavour) and meat in the same way that Beef Cattle can. These young male milk calves, a by product of the dairy industry, are fed and bred quickly to get a return for the dairy farmer. By contrast, the wonderful traditional beef cattle often pictured as the great Aberdeen Angus but also including the beautiful Hereford Beasts and Devon Reds amongst others, are epitomised by their large rounded bodies full of succulent beef and fat. These treasured beasts are bred slowly, grass fed with clean , clear drinking water for at times almost twice as long as the dairy counterparts and it is the age on the land as well as the dry ageing thereafter which allows cattle to develop depth of flavour .
Ethically bred with full traceability is not only good for conscience but also for the plate. The beef that we use, is chosen carefully using a selection criteria for the right level of fat and meat to create the perfect steak. The beef is then dry aged on the bone in the time honoured way to intensify the flavour and succulence. The result of all of this is that the meat , once in the kitchen and brought to room temperature, will experience a chemical reaction in the pan called caremalisation – this will give the diner a sweet sensation on first bite. The second bite will reveal an intense beefy flavour and succulence and a desire to eat more ! Finally, eating great beef will leave you with a slightly sweet taste in the mouth. The opposite of all of this is true of dairy beef which is so often so called wet aged which softens the beef and rather extracts flavour.