Here’s The Beef
‘Tis the season to be cooking, and thinking about cooking, and planning festive meals, and all the holiday pleasures. But somehow, amidst the turkey fantasies, I developed a mad craving for beef. I never used to enjoy beef much, but over the last few years I’ve discovered two cuts that I really love: hangar steaks, and côte de boeuf.
The beautiful côte you see here is from Painted Hills, in Oregon. Grass fed, then finished on barley and corn, it’s the most delicious thing imaginable. I’m always looking for more flavor and more fat in beef, and the combination of grass pasturing for flavor and health, then the grain finish, produces just about a perfect proportion of both. Plus, this one got some dry aging, and that dark edge from the aging is utterly delicious eating.
This côte weighed about two pounds and was several inches thick, calling for slow cooking in a butter bath. This is my version of a technique I picked up long ago on eGullet, and although you probably will think it sounds nuts, I can promise you that it works to perfection.
Remove the côte from the fridge an hour before cooking and allow it to come up to room temperature. Melt some butter with a little olive oil in a cast iron pan over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium low and place the meat in the pan. Set the timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes flip the meat and reset the timer for another 5 minutes. Now add more butter, and set the timer for 20 minutes. Flip the meat every 5 minutes or so, basting it with the browned butter and juices. Add additional butter as needed, you want to have plenty available for basting. The côte should be getting a more and more caramelized and appetizing crust each time you flip and baste. I like it to be medium-rare all the way through, and 30 minutes is usually just right. If I decide to use the thermometer, I pull it out of the pan at just about 120°. This will produce meat that is red but not bloody, all the way through, and beautifully browned and crispy on the outside.
Let the beef rest for at least 5 minutes. During that time you can either toss some thinly sliced onions, or even mushrooms, into the pan juices and fry them up. Or you can do as I often do and add a good glug of Madeira or Port to the hot pan and simmer for a couple of minutes as it reduces, then drizzle this sauce over the sliced meat as you serve it, along with a shower of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bon appétit!