Sunday, October 16, 2011

Beautiful Beef

Last weekend we visited the fabulous Feather and Bone Providores to check out their butcher shop, located in a warehouse in the back streets of Rozelle. They specialise in sustainably grown meat with the focus on guaranteeing provenance - that is, knowing exactly where and how the meat is produced. All products are sourced locally, and because they have such close relationships with the producers, they can not only tell you where the meat was raised, what it was fed, the sustainabilty practices of the farm that it came from, but even which paddock it lived in!

Because they deal with small producers, supply often fluctuates, sometimes they will only get small amounts of a product, so they issue a newsletter to customers every week telling them what is in stock for the next 7 days - you can't get more seasonal than that! They supply meat and game, poultry, eggs and a range artisan products such as handmade sausages, pates and terrines. Most of their business is based online and they deliver all over Sydney, but you can also arrange to pick up your order from their butchery in Rozelle. To find out more go to

We came away with some pork and fennel sausages, lovely Wagyu rump steaks, a free range chicken and a large piece of Dexter Beef rump from the mid north coast of New South Wales.

The Dexter breed originates from Ireland and is one of the smallest European breeds of cattle. They produce beautiful quality milk and beef. Once quite rare, some cattle farmers in Australia have started breeding them very sucessfully, especially in New South Wales and Tasmania. I was curious to see what the meat tasted like, as I had heard about how great it was, but had never seen it for sale anywhere until now.

I chose to cook the beef in one piece, over the coals on the BBQ. I just don't think you can beat cooking over coals for flavour. I seasoned the meat well with Murray River pink salt and plently of pepper, and made sure the beef was at room temerature before cooking it. Never cook meat straight from the fridge - the muscle fibres in the meat contract quickly when they hit the heat and the result is tough meat. Second rule of course is to always rest your meat before carving it. I rested the roast for about 20 minutes.

Roasted Dexter Beef

I decided against a traditional roast beef dinner and instead went for something with a bit of a French influence, choosing to serve the Dexter beef roast with a luscious potato galette (my recipe below is based on Julia Child's) and a fresh parsley and caper sauce.

Potato Galette

The beef had a fantastic flavour - quite lean but with a delicious crust on the outside, created by rubbing the thin layer of fat with the salt, and the effect of cooking over the coals.The accompaniments were a perfect addition to an outstanding piece of beef - and a perfect seasonal Spring menu. I will definitely be buying Dexter beef again, for it's wonderful flavour.

Roasted Dexter Beef
With potato galette and parsley and caper Sauce

Cooking the meat was very basic, so I haven't included cooking instructions - however I have included the recipes for both of today's side dishes - they would be lovely with any kind of meat, including poultry or even fish. As Julia would say - Bon Appetit!

Parsley and Caper Sauce

You will need: 1 large bunch continental parsley chopped, 1 clove crushed garlic, 1 tablespoon capers, 2 spring onions sliced finely, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 4 anchovies chopped finely, 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons warm water, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to season.

Method: Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor until well blended. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as needed. Cover with gladwrap until ready to serve. This can be made a few hours ahead and stored in the fridge.

Potato Galette

You will need: About 1 kg washed, peeled whole potatoes, 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary chopped finely, 2 cloves crushed garlic, 1 tablespoon salted butter, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper.

Method: Melt the butter and combine in a small bowl with the olive oil, rosemary and garlic. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Slice the potatoes very thinly (a mandolin or slicing attachment of the food processor is great for this)

Place the potatoes in a layer in a springform cake tin, or a round pie tin. Brush with the butter mixture and season with salt and pepper. Continue building up layers until you have used all of the potato.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil and continue to bake for a further 30 minutes, until the top is crispy and golden.

Allow the dish to rest for about 10 minutes before cutting into wedge shaped slices and serving.


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