British beef is an extremely popular meat, enjoyed worldwide in beef recipes. The versatile meat is full of flavour and a source of high-quality protein, iron and B vitamins.

While it is a favourite for a classic roast, ground beef recipes are equally popular and the range of prime beef cuts available make it open to an array of cooking techniques and flavours when creating recipes for beef.

What are the different types of beef available?

Some cattle for beef is considered to be better than others. British beef cattle such as the Aberdeen Angus, Longhorn and Hereford are thought to be among the best beef in the world. While British-reared beef is revered and sought after, other stock such as the Japanese Wagyu is gaining popularity and is also considered a fine meat. Black Angus beef cattle, originated in Scotland, a naturally hornless bovine, is the most popular breed in the US for its good quality, particularly its even marbling. Another popular breed is the Piedmontese, which comes from Italy. The Piedmontese cattle are known for the mutant gene they carry which affects their muscle growth known as double-muscling; the breed is known as a premium product.

How are beef cattle farmed?

Beef cattle is widely farmed. It can be kept in an “extensive” grazing-based system, in which the cattle is kept in a field for most of the year and housed for part, allowing them more freedom. Alternatively, “intensive” indoor systems where some cattle could be housed their whole lives. Cattle being able to freely graze is preferable as the intensive method comes under scrutiny when considering animal welfare. The Red Tractor logo is a mark which assures the buyer that the food comes from farms and companies which meet the high standards of animal welfare, hygiene, food safety and environmental protection. Organic beef and beef coming from a rare-breed will be much more expensive; this is due to the high standards of farming during the animals’ lives.

Local butchers and farmers market, perhaps online mail order companies as well, would be able to provide more information about where the beef you’re purchasing has come from. Knowing how the cattle was farmed, transported while alive (as this can cause stress for livestock), slaughtered, and how long it was hung for, can give more knowledge about how it was treated and ultimately, the quality of the cut you’re buying. Additionally, butchers are likely to stock a much wider variety of cuts than supermarkets may have, they should also be on-hand to offer advice on the cooking and preparation of the meat.

What to look for when buying beef

Most cuts are sold already prepared. It is an easy meat to find and is available all year round. When choosing beef, the meat should look firm and moist. The length of time the meat is hung determines the flavour and tenderness, around 10-14 days is a good length of time however, some prime beef is hung for up to six weeks. If the beef has been properly hung it should be a deep burgundy colour. It should look cleanly cut and trimmed neatly. Any fat on the outside should be a creamy colour and light streaks of fat, marbling, should be running throughout the cut; without this, the beef would dry out when cooked.

How to cook beef

There are a wide range of cuts available varying in prices; the sirloin steak is perhaps the most expensive, with brisket being one of the cheapest cuts. For the classic roasts, the best cuts include: sirloin, rump, fillet, or rib on the bone or rolled. For quick cooking such as grilling: a fillet, rib eye, rump steak, or entrecote can be used. Other cuts such as brisket, topside and silverside are great in stews. Minced, or ground beef recipes may be chilli or bolognaise, pies or alternatively, minced meat can be formed into burgers. Some cuts of beef can be marinated which can add to its flavour and texture. Dry rubs, such as garlic and thyme, add flavour but don’t tenderise the meat as some marinades may.

Other than the classic roast, other recipes for beef include the beef wellington, beef burgers, beef bourguignon, among many others.

Beef Recipes: