BBQ99/17: 7 Year old British Dexter T-Bone
I am going to apologise up front – there are a lot of words and an awful lot of pictures but this was something special and I felt it needed both!
Some time back Turner and George started stocking the Galician Blonde beef and there was a massive buzz about how good the meat was with some folk saying it was the best beef they had ever eaten. I bought a few different cuts over the years and it really is good. I was lucky enough to be at Meatopia 2016 when Marco Peerdeman, DJ BBQ, Richard Turner and John Torode butchered a whole side of a Galician cow then cooked the cuts before passing them out. Because I was sat at the front I managed to eat loads of it! There is no denying it’s an amazing product but as a big fan of British meat I held out some hope that older British beef would become available at some point.
Finally, the odd batch started to filter through at The Butchery but without mail order I couldn’t get hold of any. I saw Peelham farm were supplying restaurants in Edinburgh but their supply was so limited they couldn’t sell the older beef to the retail market. There was also a segment on the Jamie and Jimmy show where they talked about retiring ex dairy cows out to pasture for a few years before eating the meat.
Finally, I was able to get hold of some older British beef when Farmison started offering “British Old Cow” which really was something very special:
What was so special about it? The taste, the smell and the texture. It was the strongest beef taste I had experienced but also some of the tenderest meat. Even though the cow was older than those which usually hit the food chain. I had expected meat from an older animal to be tougher and need a bit of extra cooking but it was the opposite of that. Taste wise it’s the beef equivalent of comparing lamb and mutton.
The Farmison “Old Cow” and the Galician Blonde are both great products but I wanted to buy more British meat and it was proving hard to get hold of it let alone on a regular basis.
On Instagram I noticed Swaledale Foods kept posting about older beef they had provided to restaurants, it was usually Highland or Dexter beef as well. I have been keen to try Highland beef for a while after it got such a great write up in the book “Steak” and I have always enjoyed Dexter beef, it’s some of the best tasting beef I have eaten. You don’t see Dexter beef too often, maybe because it’s a very small cow so doesn’t deliver the same return per animal as a larger breed. The Swaledale site states:
The Dexter can weigh as little as 160KG deadweight – compare this with the Longhorn which can weigh upwards of 400KG. At its best the beef can be the best beef we have tried.
I kept posting on their Instagram posts asking to get hold of some and Richard from Swaledale got in touch. We had a few email exchanges and I meant to follow up and order some but I never quite got round to it with everything else going on. Last week I realised I was going to hit BBQ #100 during UK BBQ Week and I wanted something special to mark the occasion. I couldn’t think much further than some older British Beef for #100 so I got in touch with Richard.
I have to say that Richard is a lovely guy, really helpful and very enthusiastic about the quality products he is selling. We spent a fair bit of time on the phone but they don’t usually sell to retail customers as they supply some of the top restaurants in the UK. However, Richard didn’t rush me off the phone and it was a genuine pleasure to speak to someone so passionate about the quality of the meat they are selling. We discussed the older beef and Richard suggested a 7 year old Dexter which had been aged for 50 days. This sounded awesome to me! We agreed on 2 different cuts to cover BBQ#99 and BBQ#100.
I asked Richard to send me more details on the beef as I always like to know the background story of what breed it is, where it’s come from, how it’s been aged and how long it’s been aged for:
The beef being sent to you is from a 7 year old Dexter, and came from Andy Lambert’s farm in Hellifield. ( There is a picture of him and some of his cows on our Instagram page. ) As is the case with all of our meat, this is outdoor reared, grass fed, native breed meat. As you will see when it arrives the meat has great marbling throughout and a deep yellow fat cover.
The meat has been aged for 50 days in our Himalayan salt brick aging room.
The fans are state of the art meaning there is next to no moisture in the air as you will see from the dryness on the outside of the rib.
I was so excited reading this, I really couldn’t wait for the beef to arrive so I could see it. This was better than Christmas! The background story of the meat is something you can’t and won’t get in the supermarket and is one of the main reasons supermarket meat is so poor (along with the lack of dry ageing).
When the beef arrived it looked and smelt fantastic, I was really impressed and looking forward to cooking it. The cut selected for BBQ#99 was T-Bone steaks and these were 1KG each so they were massive!
Phone book thickness!
Look how yellow the fat is:
Very simple prep this one – Lots of salt and pepper, nothing else.
I fired up a full chimney of Oxford Charcoal Hardwood Blend and placed it on top of some Sweet Chestnut and Maple I had left from previous cooks. I set the charcoal with a hot and a cold side so I could reverse sear the meat.
I placed the steaks over the cooler side of the grill with the sirloin facing the heat and the fillet pointing outwards to try and protect the smaller fillet a bit and cook them to the same temperature. I placed a lump of Smokewood Shack Whisky Oak on the charcoal to smoke the meat.
I used the Weber iGrill2 to keep track of the temperature of the meat. I set it to alert at 47c so I could then move it over to the direct heat and sear it up to 55c for medium rare.
10 minutes in the meat was taking on a great colour from the smoking wood:
Each time I took the lid off the meat was just looking better and better!
After 20 minutes they hit 47c so I flipped them onto the grill grates over the direct heat. I was getting a fair bit of flare up at this point but thankfully the grill grates protected the meat from the bulk of it.
I gave it about 45 seconds then turned it 90 degrees then flipped it after another 45 seconds and turned it 90 degrees after another 45 seconds (3 minutes total)
At that point I probed the meat and it was 55c so I took it off to rest.
Time to Eat:
The steaks looked and smelt fantastic, there was a lot of juice in the tray from the resting period:
The colour of the meat was great!
I hadn’t seared the fatty edge mainly due to the amount of smoke during the sear stage. It had a great colour, I was hoping it had softened during the cook.
I sliced into the meat and it was incredibly tender, very easy to slice.
Good bit of pink on the sirloin, probably cooked higher than medium rare which I was aiming for – more medium I think.
Side shot of the sirloin from the bone edge:
The fat looked awesome on this one as well:
Again, nice bit of pink on the sirloin and not cooked as high as the other one.
Appreciate that’s a lot of words and a lot of pictures but I enjoyed this cook so much and it’s such a special product I wanted to do it justice.
How was the steak? One word – Epic!
We both really enjoyed the steaks, they had a fantastic, strong beef flavour without being overpowering which you sometimes get from beef aged for longer. Both steaks were incredibly tender, very easy to slice and eat. The fat layer was a bonus, very soft and very tasty. My wife isn’t a fan of fat on meat unless it’s crispy but she eat all of hers which says a lot!
I did cook them both a bit higher than I was aiming for, would have been nice to catch them at 55C but it was hard with all the flames and smoke! If I was to do this again I would repeat the slow, smoked method I did before:
Using that method it’s far easier to control the internal temperature of the meat and cook the fillet and sirloin to an equal temperature. Nothing wrong with these steaks but the slow, smoked method is a bit easier!
I loved this cook from arranging the meat delivery, receiving it, cooking it and eating it – cracking! Many thanks to Richard at Swaledale for his help. BBQ#100 is cooking as I write this!
|Cook Equipment:||Grill Grates|
|Cook Method:||Reverse Sear|
|Charcoal:||Oxford Charcoal Hardwood Blend|
|Smoking Wood:||Smokewood Shack Whisky Oak|
|Cook time:||25 minutes plus a good rest|
|Internal temperature:||47C indirect then 55C direct|
|Notes:||1: Use the slow, smoked method to cook them|
Swaledale are launching a retail site soon –
‘ Native Breed Meat Company’ we will be looking to supply properly aged and prepared meat to the masses and show people what they have been missing out on, we are set to launch in the next few months, but we have a website that people can sign up to and be alerted when we go live.
The basic idea is people go online and order the meat and we can ship it to them by mail order anywhere in the country.
I have asked Richard to send me the website address and I will add it here once I have it. Great news that we will be able to buy older beef online from them soon, they sell Mangalitsa pork too which is something else I have wanted to cook for a long time. I will see if I can get some of that next!