Cote de boeuf is at its most successful when cut as thick as possible. The heavy marbling of Swaledale’s ribs is so special that as the meat cooks, this marbling softens like a liquid jelly through the meat, giving it the most remarkable succulence.
Cote de boeuf w/ béarnaise sauce
1 bunch of fresh tarragon
50ml white wine vinegar
2 shallots, chopped
6 black peppercorns
a blade of mace (don’t panic if not available)
1 fresh bay leaf
125g salted butter
4 organic egg yolks
250g additional unsalted butter
160g John Hurd’s Organic Watercress
- Take steaks out of the fridge at least two hours before you wish to cook them.
- Pick the tarragon and set the leaves to one side. Put the stalks in a small saucepan along with the vinegar, shallot, peppercorns, mace, and bay leaf. Add a good splash of water, bring the liquid to the boil and then simmer until half the liquid has evaporated. Strain the liquid through a sieve into a bowl and allow to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 160°C.
- Season the beef very well.
- Heat a heavy pan along with a good splash of oil.
- Brown the beef well on the first side, taking it to the stage where a good crust is starting to develop.
- Turn them over and do the same again.
- Pull the pan back from the heat and add the salted butter. It will melt and foam most promptly. Using a spoon, baste the two ribs repeatedly.
- Turn down the heat of your hob/gas and continue to cook the ribs for a further 8-10 minutes.
- Take care not to burn the butter and turn occasionally.
- Finally, place the ribs in the oven and cook for about 5 minutes, 10 for a thicker piece of meat. A temperature probe can give confidence, 49°C core temperature for rare and 51-53°C for medium-rare.
- Remove from the oven, transfer to a warmed serving platter, spoon over the pan butters and juices and rest in a warm place for 20 minutes.
- Whilst the meat is resting, it is time to rustle up the béarnaise.
- Place a bowl over a pan of just boiled water. Add the yolks, vinegar reduction, and whisk to a light pale cream for two minutes.
- Meanwhile, melt the unsalted butter and ensure it is piping hot.
- Pour in the butter drop by drop, increasing your pouring speed once the mixture has emulsified and started to thicken. Keep a kettle of hot water to hand, and should the mixture become too thick and have the look as if it is about to split then a splash of hot water will save the day.
- When this is done, chop the tarragon leaves and stir them into the sauce along with a seasoning of coarse sea salt and cracked black pepper.
- Should, horror of horrors, the béarnaise split, then it is easy to correct. Transfer the split sauce to a jug. Place a splash of boiling water in a clean bowl over a pan of hot water and then drizzle in the split sauce at a slow and steady speed whilst whisking constantly. An old-fashioned electric beater/whisk can help the timid.
- Finally, to serve, slice each rib into 6-8 pieces and divide on to 4 plates with a generous garnish of watercress on each. The béarnaise is best placed in a bowl on the table.
- As for the bones there are always a few who like to gnaw on the crisp attachments to the bone so let them!