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Why Beef Should Be On The Menu This Christmas

Why Beef Should Be On The Menu This Christmas

Thursday, 3 December 2015 12:14:07 Europe/London

With the holiday period just around the corner, many of us are already planning our menu over the Christmas break. This is the time of the year to celebrate with friends and family and as such it is important to get the food choices right.  

Traditionally it is all about the Turkey, and a lot of time and effort go into selecting the best ones. With a wide selection of places to buy our turkey this Christmas (farms, online butchers, local butchers and supermarkets), selecting the right one can be a difficult process.

But is Christmas all about Turkey? Turkey is the most popular Christmas table meat, with over 10 million Turkeys consumed in the UK during the Christmas period. Some people though do not like Turkey and only eat this delicacy at Christmas due to its “tradition”. 

Eating Turkey at Christmas time is a relatively new tradition and has only been part of the UK Christmas dinner table since the 16th century. Prior to this new Christmas taste trend people ate Beef, Goose, Pheasant or even Peacock and wild boar.

In fact Turkey has only been part of the UK Christmas dinner experience since the 1950s (due to domestic storage and cooking facilities being available to the wider public). Turkey is generally considered the ultimate Christmas meat due to its size and capability of feeding the whole family.

However, Turkey is only eaten at Christmas in the UK, other countries around the world eat a wide variety of meats; In Sweden they eat a traditional Ham, parts of Southern Ireland eat spiced Beef, Italy they eat Fish or Lamb and Australia they eat more beef, shellfish, chicken (all prepared on the BBQ).

Here at Tom Hixon’s, we have decided to explore alternative meat dishes for the traditional Christmas dinner and also have a look at other key dates over the season that Beef can be enjoyed.

So for this Christmas our spotlight is focused on one of the most popular meats consumed in the UK, Beef. In our opinion Christmas would not be Christmas without including the star of the UK dining table.

Why Eat Beef At Christmas?

Beef is one of the most celebrated meats within the UK. 

A stable part of the UK diet, eaten by most families on a weekly basis and a very versatile meat that can be used in a variety of cooking styles and cuisines.

Traditionally beef is the meat of for the weekly Sunday roast, due to its ability to compliment the trimmings and its juices used to create a deep flavoured gravy. 

In our opinion, Beef has to be considered for Christmas dinner (which is also regarded as the ultimate roast dinner).

But is Beef special enough for Christmas? Most people eat Beef when they go out to restaurants or may even eat it regularly as part of their Sunday routine.

Well first of all, not all Beef is created equally. There are some cuts and grades of meat that are special enough to grace the Christmas table, other than the traditional cut and quality of the beef used for your weekly Sunday dinners. 

These celebratory meats are the ideal accompaniment to a luxury Christmas dinner.

Beef Cuts and Grades Suitable For A Christmas Banquet

Beef comes in a variety of cuts and grades with each one offering something unique to the Christmas dining experience. 

We need to think of practically, value and cost when selecting our Christmas meats we don’t want to choose a high quality Wagyu or USDA quality sirloin that would only feed 2 people. We need a centrepiece meat that can feed the whole (sometimes extended) family.

For the Christmas table the best cut that offers the most value/versatility to feed a large amount of people and is the ideal beef for roasting is the prime rib or rib-eye cut of beef.

This cut is perfect for sharing and creating the right portion sizes for the Christmas diners and is generally easy to cook, while still tasting great.

We know the cut we want for our Christmas table what about the quality. As its Christmas we need to remember it’s a celebration of food, flavours and family. 

Therefore quality cannot be comprised due to cost. As a starting point to decide the budget we need to allocate to our Christmas beef we need compare the cost of Turkey, so we are able to decide how much we are willing to spend on our Christmas meat.

Turkeys generally cost anywhere between £70 - £100 (dependant on weight), so this has to be our budget guideline for how much we are willing to spend on our Christmas Rib-Eye beef centrepiece. 

Quality Grades & Different Quality Of Beef 

For the Rib-eye cut we need to know how we differentiate between the qualities of the beef to understand which one we need to select for our Christmas centrepiece.

Rib-eye cuts of Beef come in a variety of sizes, breeds and countries. With the top 4 prime beef sections below:

USDA: The highest quality grade of Beef exported from America. USDA beef goes through strict grading process run by the United States Department of Agriculture looking at the palatability of the meat (tenderness, juiciness and flavour), the carcass maturity, firmness, texture, and the colour of the lean and the amount of marbling in the meat. The higher the amount of marbling (intramuscular fat) within the beef and the younger the age of the carcass the better USDA grading. USDA beef is very high quality and as such costs a lot more (some cuts are around nearly £200 for a 5 – 6kg selection).

Aberdeen Angus: Is developed from cattle native to the counties of Aberdeenshire and Angus, Scotland. The cattle is usually grass fed and raised outdoors. This gives the meat a distinctive traditional taste and is highly regarded as one the finest beef products. You can pick up high quality Angus beef rib-eye for around £100 for a 3-4kg cut. 

Australia: Grain Fed & Grass Fed: The best quality Beef from Australia comes in grain fed (more for fat marbling and sweeter texture) to Grass Fed (higher in omega 3 and more a traditional Beef taste). These cuts of beef are the cheapest of the selection at around £55 – £65 to buy online (2 – 3kg cut).

Hereford: Best of British, sustainably sourced and a traditional roasting meat. The highest quality beef comes from Hereford, known for its unique flavour and marbling. This beef is a luxury and can usually be found online for around £100 for a 3.8kg cut.

Worth an honourable mention: halal (beef prepared to strict religious guidelines), Wagyu (highest quality beef derived from Japanese cattle, very expensive), Uruguayan (beef from cattle raised in the lush green pastures on South America).

As you can see there is a variety of beef for all tastes, budgets and level of luxury required.

The most popular and the highest quality beef we would suggest for your Christmas table would be the Aberdeen Angus rib-eye. This meat product is great for roasting, has enough fat content for tenderness and offers a traditional beef taste (hung or 8 days for maximum flavour) for the Christmas meal.

Now we have chosen our celebratory beef for our alternative Christmas dinner, it is now time to think of a recipe of how you can make the Christmas day dinner extra special.

Below we have collated out top 7 beef recipes that you can use on Christmas Day.

The 7 Best Christmas Beef Dishes For Your Christmas Day Centrepiece

The following are a list of the some of the best Christmas Beef dishes for Christmas table:

If however you still are unsure about swapping the Turkey for a Beef dish for Christmas Day here are alternative days over the holiday period where you can enjoy beef.

Christmas Eve:

A nice succulent rib of beef is the ideal pre-Christmas meat to get you into the mood of the coming feast

Boxing Day:

Why not put a rib of beef to roast to compliment the traditional boxing day dinner of cold meats, pickle and salad. If you had a rib for Christmas dinner you can use the leftovers for a curry or Moroccan inspired tagine

New Years Eve:

Start the New Year with a bang, feeling brave try the Tomahawk steak, the ultimate party rib of beef

New Years Day:

Another family get together so if you neglected Beef as your centrepiece meat for the main event, now is the time to let the beef shine

That’s it, you now have your Christmas holiday feasting ideas planned. By incorporating beef into your menu preparations you add variety to your eating habits, by adding in heritage flavours and textures during the holiday period.

Make the holiday season extra special by instilling that Christmas spirit through bringing back to the table a traditional meat this Christmas.

Posted in Foodie News By

george hixson

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