Sunday, November 12, 2006

Ultimate rib of beef with rosemary and garlic roast potatoes

In my picky years, I didn't eat beef. I blame the brisket that was served up on Sundays from time to time, slowly braised but still, to me, tough and tasteless, particularly when compared with juicy roast chicken with its crispy skin or pork with its crackling. I didn't care for burgers, either (which is probably a good thing given what was in those bought in burgers that my friends went crazy for). Since I stopped being so picky (and it was less a gradual process than a sharp culture shock: I went to live in the south of France for a year, aged 20, and discovered that I loved seafood and fish and rabbit, not to mention almost any cheese you could care to mention; had I not, I would probably have starved), I have more than got over my issues with beef (although I continue to reject commercially made burgers). In fact, I now crave beef occasionally: juicy steaks, melt-in-your-mouth slow cooked stews, home-made beefburgers not made with spooky mince, and preferably with Roquefort too, roast rib with horseradish, Indonesian curries with lemongrass and coconut milk... I like the look of all Jamie's beef recipes and this latest one (rib of beef with rosemary and garlic roast potatoes) seemed like a celebratory Saturday night with the X factor sort of dinner (I haven't managed to see any dancing. I know the rest of the nation is watching the dancing for the campness and the bright dresses, but I am a sucker for Simon Cowell demoralising people..).

This meal was easy. The steak took the form of a single rib of beef on the bone, my favourite roasting cut, but usually a larger piece. It was marinaded with lemon zest, garlic, rosemary and oil, browned in an oven-proof frying pan and then oven-roasted for up to 20 minutes, turned over and basted with marinade every five minutes. When the steak was ready, I squeezed over some lemon juice and drizzled olive oil and let it rest.

Meanwhile, I peeled and cubed some potatoes, covered in cold salted water and brought to the boil, and then tossed them with rosemary and garlic in an oiled baking tray that had been pre-heated in the oven. These little cubed potatoes are also a separate recipe in Jamie's book; I have made versions of these countless times before, originally, I think, inspired by Nigella in How To Eat. They are deliciously crunchy and flavoured - so much more so than the usual larger roasties (which nonetheless go much better with Sunday roasts).

The combination of rosemary-scented potatoes and rosemary-infused steak was divine. I cooked the steak to medium-rare and it was delicious, sliced into generous chunks and served with the baby roasties.

Mmm. This is really easy but satisfying home cooking at its best. I think the instructions read slightly oddly, because Jamie keeps saying 'steaks' not 'steak' as though you have already cut the meat up, although clearly this is not intended; this wouldn't really constitute a problem for anyone other than pedantic me, because the whole dish is really very easy. I think that using beef on the bone rather than the usual steak cuts works really well because rib is so tasty and because you can put it in the oven and baste occasionally, rather than having to worry about over-cooking two pieces of steak on a griddle pan on the hob. It feels rustic and warming and somehow it is; another success.

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