The Butcher & The Cook: How to Buy and Cook a Côte de Boeuf

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Côte de Boeuf is a thick ‘bone-in’ rib eye steak. A one-bone côte de boeuf will serve two people with leftovers and can be cooked from start to finish in a frying pan or seared in a pan first, then finished in the ovenPart of our series ‘The Butcher & The Cook’ where butcher James Kenny of the Brown Pig and Anne Kennedy, Food Editor at gréatfood, show you how to source, buy and cook popular and more adventurous cuts of meat.

THE BUTCHER: The côte de boeuf is a prized cut of beef and, when it’s aged and hung properly, it is tender and juicy with a rich flavour. The butcher should already have removed the ‘cap’ from the côte de boeuf (see our image above). The image on the left shows the côte de boeuf with the cap while the image on the right shows the côte de boeuf with the cap removed. The cap is a tougher piece of fat and meat that sits on the edge of the meat and it takes about 2 hours cooking to become tender. You can’t cook a côte de boeuf in a frying pan or in the oven for a short time if the cap is left on as that part will be too tough to eat. When you buy a one-rib côte de boeuf the butcher removes it and often minces it to add to a luxury burger. (When you buy a two-rib côte de boeuf the butcher leaves the cap on and you will cook it for a longer time in the oven and it will become tender.) A one-rib côte de boeuf is best served rare or medium-rare to really appreciate this beautiful cut of meat.

THE COOK: Preparing a one-rib côte de boeuf for cooking
Remove the côte de boeuf from the fridge. Sprinkle it with a generous amount of sea salt on both sides pressing it gently into the meat. Leave the meat, lightly covered, to rest on a plate for 30 minutes to 2 hours. This process gives the meat a far better flavour and it has time to come to room temperature so it can cook evenly.

How to cook a one-rib côte de boeuf in a frying pan

1. Heat a large non-stick, stainless steel or cast-iron frying pan over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until you can barely hold your hand an inch above the pan. Add the steak – without any oil or butter – nudging it so that all the meat is touching the pan. (The protruding rib may not sit comfortably in a small pan so choose the largest pan you have.) Leave the meat to cook without touching it for 4 minutes, then gently lift the meat by the rib, turn it on its side and hold it, adjusting its position in the pan until all the fat is golden. Place the meat on its other uncooked side in the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Turn the meat and cook for another 1-2 minutes for rare and 3-4 minutes for medium-rare. Add a generous knob of butter to the pan and when it melts use it to baste the meat.

2. Remove the côte de boeuf to a plate, loosely cover in tin foil and ‘rest’ it. This allows the juices that have been forced into the centre of the meat during cooking to flow back into the meat. Slice the côte de boeuf into slices and serve. If some of your guests like meat that is cooked ‘medium’, place the slices back in the frying pan and cook them over a high heat for another minute. This is what chefs do in restaurants and it means that everyone can have meat cooked to their liking without compromising the juiciness of the joint.

How to roast a one-rib côte de boeuf in the oven
1. Preheat the oven to 220C Fan – 240C – 475F – Gas 9.

2. Score the fat on the beef with a sharp knife to help it to melt in the frying pan. Heat a large oven-proof frying pan over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until you can barely hold your hand an inch above the pan. Add the côte de boeufwithout any oil or butter – nudging it so that all the meat is touching the pan. Leave the meat to cook without touching it for 4 minutes, then turn and cook it on the other side for 4 minutes. Turn the meat again and cook for another 2 minutes. You want good caramelisation on both sides. Place the pan in the oven and cook for 6-8 minutes for rare and 10-12 minutes for medium-rare.

How to use a temperature probe to check the ‘doneness’ of a côte de boeuf
Using a temperature probe is the only sure-fire way of making sure that any thick cut of meat is cooked to your liking. The thickness of a piece of meat changes the cooking time so each côte de boeuf is a little bit different (we like to call that ‘personality’). To use a temperature probe, press the metal prong into the thickest part of the meat and read the temperature. You’ll find the correct temperatures below. If the centre of the meat hasn’t reached the correct temperature cook it for a little longer and check again. While meat is resting it rises in temperature from between 5 to 10 degrees so remove it from the frying pan or oven before it reaches the optimum temperature so that it isn’t over-cooked. The temperatures below reflect this. Lightly cover the meat in tin foil while it is resting so it doesn’t get cold (if the foil covering is too tight the meat will steam). While the meat rests the juices flow back through the meat and that’s what makes it tender and juicy.

Internal Cooking Temperatures for a Côte de Boeuf

Rare: 50C and leave the meat to rest for 10 minutes.
Medium-rare: 53C and leave the meat to rest for 10 minutes.
Medium: 61C and leave the meat to rest for 10 minutes.
Well-done: 67C and leave the meat to rest for 10 minutes.

TIP: During the frying process spoon off the fat, cool, chill and use it to make the best roast potatoes and roast vegetables. Beef fat is full of goodness.

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