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Christmas Roast Rib Eye Beef and braised beef ribs

"Cooking a whole rib of beef is a tricky affair, the tender centre is surrounded by much tough pieces of meat so getting the cooking right is almost impossible, by breaking the joint down into it’s component parts you can pay each piece of meat the deserved attention. The other benefit is the slow cooked ribs and brisket can be prepared the day before and just reheated on the big day meaning your sauce and half the meat is ready to go relieving some of that Christmas morning stress" Gelf Alderson, Culinary Director

Method

At River Cottage we butcher all our own meat and in some of our courses our guests will learn some basic butchery. This recipes requires the ribs to be removed from the ‘eye’ of the joint, if you would like to do this yourself the instructions can be found https://www.rivercottage.net/recipes/christmas-roasted-rib-eye. However you could also ask your local butcher to do this, a good independent butcher should be happy to help.

BRAISED BEED RIBS

Slow-cooking the beef ribs will create melt-in-your-mouth meat and produce wonderful rich juices full of Christmas flavour thanks to the spices and red wine that the ribs have been braised in. Use the juices as your gravy for something extra special for your Christmas feast.

Preheat the oven to 225°C/205°C fan /Gas Mark 7

Place your ribs in two roasting trays, you will need two to ensure they are not overcrowded. Put the trays in to the hot oven for 30 mins or until the beef starts to brown.

Remove your ribs from the oven and reduce the temperature 170°C/150°C fan /Gas Mark 3.

Now it is time to add your festive flavours. Divide the herbs and spices evenly between each tray. Create long curls of zest from the orange using a veg peeler, being careful not to add the pith.

Peel the shallots (try soaking them in boiling water for 10 minutes to help ease the peel off), leaving them whole and add to the trays along with the carrots. Lastly, pour 500ml of beef stock - ideally homemade but if not a good quality low salt one - then return the trays to the oven.

Slow cook the beef for 4- 5 hours until the meat falls off the bone and is full of flavour. Be sure to check it after the first two hours and cover with foil if beginning to darken too quickly and you think it could burn. If the sauce is becoming too thick add a little water and continue to cook.

Once fully cooked, the meat will be beautifully tender and falling off the bone. Transfer the meat and veg into clean roasting trays and place in fridge and it is ready to reheat for Christmas Day. To reheat simply pre heat an oven to 180°C / 160°C Fan / Gas Mark 4 and cook for 35-45 minutes or until the meat is piping hot in the middle.

THE SAUCE

This is a rich, thick aromatic sauce to be served over the all of the beef, both ribs and the slow roast. It make a delicious alternative to traditional gravy.

Using a sieve, strain the juices from your braised beef ribs into a saucepan and skim off the fat from the top with a ladle. Taste the juices to assess the flavour, it should taste like a beef broth. If the flavour is not as strong as you wish, you can boil the sauce until it reduces and concentrates the flavour

Place another saucepan over a high heat and pour in an entire bottle of red wine and let it boil, wait until the wine has reduced to a syrup like consistency.

Stir in the syrupy wine to the pan containing the braising liquid to create a deliciously thick and flavoursome sauce. This can be done the day before and simply reheated in a pan the next day.

THE RIB EYE

Tender, pink in the middle and the centre piece of your Christmas feast. It really doesn’t get better than this.

Serves 4-6

1 rib eye

75g unsalted butter

4 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed

A handful of fresh thyme, leaves only

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180°C (fan) /Gas Mark 6.

On Christmas morning take the rib eye out of the fridge and let tit sit at room temperature, ideally for around 6 hours.

When it’s time to start cooking give the beef a good sprinkle of sea salt, making sure your flip it and cover all over.

Before you begin roasting you want to seal the joint in a pan to intensify the flavours. It is important to have a good cast iron skillet that can be used on the stove and in the oven, this needs to be heated until it is smoking hot. Place the sunflower oil or beef dripping into the pan and place the beef in right away. Make sure to open a window as it will get smoky! Turn over to ensure it gets an even salty crust.

Once it is a rich golden brown all over, it's ready to go in the oven. First drain off the beef dripping that is in the pan and add a generous helping of butter, whole cloves of garlic and sprinkle of thyme.

Once some of the butter has melted, spoon over the beef and add a good crack of pepper on both sides.

Place the beef into the preheated oven, on the top shelf. After 10 minutes check the temperature using a meat thermometer. It needs to reach 45C. If it needs a little longer, spoon over some more butter and juices from the base of the tray and continue cooking. Check again in 5 minutes and so on until it has reached 45°C. If you don’t have a thermometer, tease open the meat in the centre and you should see a nice red colour to the meat. It should look a little under cooked as it will finish cooking as it rests.

Once cooked transfer to a serving dish and pour the juices from the pan over the top and allow to rest for 10 minutes and it is ready to serve.

Cooking the rib of beef should be one of your last jobs so make sure the sauce is finished and the braised beef is hot. Carve the ribeye and serve with some of the slow cooked beef, shallots and carrots and a generous helping of the sauce.

Photography by Lisa Linder/Hearst Magazines UK

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Ingredients

FOR THE ROAST RIB EYE

3 tbsp sunflower oil or beef dripping

1 fore rib of beef around 5-7 kg

75g unsalted butter

4 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed

A handful of fresh thyme, leaves only

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the BRAISED RIBS

Your two trays of roasted beef ribs

2 cinnamon sticks

20 cloves

1 handful of bay leaves

A handful of fresh thyme (sprinkle around)

A few sprigs of rosemary

Zest of 1 large or 2 smaller unwaxed orange(s)

350g shallots, peeled and whole

2 large carrots, sliced lengthways or 4 smaller carrots, whole

FOR THE SAUCE

The braising liquid from two trays of beef ribs

1 bottle of organic wine