Tuesday, 18 July 2017
When you think of Angus beef, where do you think it comes from? Aberdeen in Scotland? That is both correct and incorrect. Aberdeen Angus or just Angus for short is in fact a breed of cattle and doesn’t necessarily mean that it comes from Scotland. Herefordshire is one of the more popular Angus farming regions in England and is where we get most of our beef from. What makes Angus so special is its hardy nature and fantastic marbling.
All around the world cattle farmers have been using Angus for hundreds of years from America to Japan, where Angus Cattle have been used to make the most amazing beef. The differences in how the cattle is farmed is stark, however. In America, there are two types, Black and Red Angus (regarded as the same thing here in the UK), the vast majority of cattle farmers use Black Angus and are rated by the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) as either Select, Choice or Prime with numbered scales in between them. Anybody who has tried a Prime Cut of Beef will tell you that the flavour is amazing, nearly unrivalled in fact except for Wagyu (Japans Angus). How is it then that the Americans are able to produce such a high calibre of beef that is superior in marble, taste and size to that of the UK not-with-standing the fact that it originates from here. Well the answer is simple. Grain. Grain feeding of cattle is commonplace in the USA, so much so that it would take up nearly half of the animal’s diet. But cows eat grass!! Well yes, but that takes time and will never produce the same yield quality or marble as grain fed cattle, so the animals are force fed to bulk up, however they also tend to get sick so antibiotics are used. Sounds a bit shady? It is, but unfortunately it has become so widespread that is has become acceptable. In the UK, generally the only time the animals are given grain as a part of their diet is during the winter months when the animals are housed indoors to stave off the cold.
So why is it that Argentinian and South African Angus beef (a few others too) is so well revered even though the animals are nearly always grass only fed. Well this is to do with the aforementioned fact that the animals in the UK spend at least 2 months entirely indoors. As I am sure you are all aware the weather in Argentina and South Africa is pretty good so the animals spend their entire lives outdoors, being indoors even for 2 months stresses the animal out and the meat tightens, so in those two countries (there are others) the beef is natural but incredibly flavoursome and has great marble.
I am South African and have tasted all the mentioned beef, while the Prime USDA is no doubt superior in marble and taste I cannot bring myself to eat it again after I found out how these animals are treated. Wagyu is a bit different it must be said as the animals are certainly not treated poorly, in fact the opposite, they still are fed a high proportion of grain in their diet but are massaged and treated incredibly well by their handlers. At about £60 for a 220g (7.6 ounces) sirloin steak (shop bought, not restaurant price) I won’t be eating that unless somebody else is paying!
Buying Angus here in the UK? Make sure that it is Aged for at least 28 days, dry or wet aged (differences to be told in a later blog). Want to cook a perfect steak? Easy, first take it out the package and leave at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Cover with a bit of olive oil, soy sauce (a bit of a cheat, gives a lovely brown colour without using a bbq) and rub with salt and pepper. Seal both sides of the meat on a searing hot pan (about 1 minute each side), cooking times vary according to thickness but to get a perfect medium once you have sealed, turn the meat onto the side you first sealed and wait until the juices of the steak start coming out the top about 4 or 5 minutes in. Then turn, when the same phenomenon has occurred on the other side it is ready to go, try not to turn more than once. Leave on a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving this is so the previously mentioned juices can be absorbed back into the steak, if you cut it before then all the juice will come out and you don’t want that. You will still see excess blood dripping out while resting and that is perfect, it’s getting rid of the iron flavour that occurs with the first few bites of unrested meat. A well-rested steak should exude very little moisture when eating, meaning if there is a lot of blood on the plate when eating it hasn’t been rested long enough.
Wish to enjoy a perfect steak? At Forbury's we offer UK beef from one of the best butchers in the country, why not try our Angus Chateaubriand with Truffled Fat Chips and Petit Pois á la Francaise, served with Red Wine Jus and Bearnaise, all for only £72. Or how about a Angus Fillet Steak with Fat Chips (£31.50) or Angus Ribeye with Skinny Fries (£24.50). For the rest of this week as a special offer to celebrate this blog we are offering A Cote de Boeuf (Bone on Prime Rib) to share with the same accompaniments as the Chateau plus two glasses of Carignan for only £68! Only at Forbury's and Only this Week!
Final thoughts: It is a real bugbear of mine cooking temperatures for steaks, rare or medium rare? Here are how is should be done for the perfect flavour profile of each popular cut. Fillet steak (Medium-Rare), Rump (Rare), Sirloin (Medium-Rare), Ribeye (Medium). Why the different cooking temperatures? Fat content, the fatter content the longer it should be cooked. Simples! Having said all that though, eat the steak however you wish but never go over medium for fillets or rumps, if you want a well-done steak opt for ribeye with its high fat content, it can take a beating and still be delicious. A fillet or rump will just taste like shoe and you really are wasting your money. Until next time.
Have a great week!