East London Steak Co. has a sleek, easy-to-use website and within a few clicks the Christmas beef was ordered. Customer service was great; originally I couldn't find the correct date for delivery and one tweet later I was told I would be emailed when my date became available. The meat arrived at my parents' place, neatly packaged with a Christmas card from the team and a calling card bearing the meat's provenance.
For our roasted bone marrow starter, we amalgamated two recipes; St John's famous parsley & caper salad accompanied the bone marrow shafts, but these were also smothered with caramelised shallots, an idea taken from the Hawksmoor At Home cookbook, my dad's Christmas present from me. The sweet onions worked beautifully with the sharp and herby salad, with the wibbly wobbly marrow smeared over a little bread.
What of the beef? The 1.5kg rib joint (around £30) was from a breed called Dexter and it was a beautiful deep ruby red. Well laced with fat, it was simply seared on both sides and cooked for an hour at 180 degrees then rested for 20 minutes in a warm place. The meat came out medium rare and was gorgeously beefy and well flavoured. The fat was divine. I am devastated I'm not around for the beef sandwich leftovers.
The gravy though was perhaps the best I've made so far. Again inspired from the Hawksmoor cookbook, it was sweet with onions and Madeira and enriched with some leftover bone marrow. By the end of the meal I was grabbing roasted potatoes, squashing them flat for more surface soakable area and dunking then straight into the gravy jug.
Enough for 4
6 fat cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp plain flour
300ml beef stock / water
1 bone marrow shaft
Salt & pepper
Place your joint of beef on top of the onions, halved (but not peeled). Scatter the garlic cloves around and break the carrot in half and throw this in. Add a splash of water and roast your meat as you please.
When the meat is done, pour the fat out of the pan leaving about 1 tbsp. There should be some nice dark meat juices in there. Scatter the plain flour and stir well over a low heat. Add the Madeira bit by bit, stirring and amalgamating as you go. When all of it is added, add the water / stock and bring to the simmer. Add the bay leaves and simmer for a good 10 - 15 minutes. If it becomes too thick add a little water. Add the bone marrow and stir into the gravy - ours was already roasted so it slipped in easily but you can also put it in raw. Simmer for a further 10 minutes until it is as thick as you please, then taste, season with salt and pepper and serve.