I am passionate about rare breed beef and over the last year I’ve been on a quest to sample as much as possible. Check out my Rare Breeds Steaks Challenge to find out more.
The great Heston Blumenthal raved about this breed in his book ‘Perfection’ in which he said it was the best breed for cooking the perfect steak. But despite several searches, I’ve been unable to source a suitable cut – until now!
It was a moment of serendipity that brought me in contact with this glorious meat. I was shopping in West Hampstead, London, when I came across a Saturday Farmers’ Market where one of the stallholders was a lovely chap representing farmers called Tori and Ben.
Lo and behold, he was selling Longhorn – and every cut imaginable. We talked about my love of rare breed steaks and how I’d been using a British porterhouse cut for my taste tests.
He recommended I try a Longhorn Cote de Beouf – a thick, single rib steak, weighing around 500g i.e. more than enough for two people, with leftovers for roast beef sandwiches. At £24, I thought it was a bargain.
Mission accomplished! I couldn’t wait to try it.
With previous rare breed steaks, I’ve trimmed the external layer of fat and cooked them for two minutes each side in a very hot pan. However, with a steak as thick as my Longhorn Cote de Boeuf – about 7cm – I was worried that if I cooked it for too short a time the inside would be cold, and if a longer time, the outsider would be overcooked.
Step forward my trusty Sous Vide water bath. If you’re not familiar with Sous Vide cooking, it is essentially a method of cooking food for a very long time at a very low temperature – less than 100C i.e. the boiling point of water.
This long process breaks down the fat and the tough connective tissues in the meat, making it incredibly tender, and the low temperature means that the juices in the meat don’t evaporate into thin air so you’re left with wonderfully moist steak.
First, I trimmed the external fat from the steak (you can leave it on, but I’m not a fan – it’s the intramuscular fat that floats my boat – that’s where all the flavour and mouth-filling juice lies).
Then I sealed the steak in a vac pack before immersing in a Sous Vide water bath set to 55C. There it stayed for 5 hours while I popped to the pub for a couple of pints.
When I returned, I heated a grill pan on the hob until it was smoking hot, then snipped open the bag, drained out any juices that had accumulated, then rubbed the meat with sunflower oil.
Then….sssssssssszzzzzzzzzzzzzz…..it was onto the grill pan for a minute each side to create a Maillard Reaction – the process of browning the meat by turning the sugars and amino acids in the meat into a crunchy crust.
After resting the steak for a few minutes, I carved it into thick slices and served it with straw potato chips and a variety of garnishes: Roasted Garlic Jam, Bimm’s African Chilli Coconut Relish, and Mustard.
Tasting notes: As beefy as stock cube with a dense, chewy texture, that holds a gallon of flavoury fat, giving immense mouth-feel. The real star, though, was the crust: as crunchy and as sweet as a slab of peanut brittle. A sublime steak.
Marks: 9.5 out of 10 – a fraction away from the incomparable Australian Wagyu.