Sunday 11/12/2005

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Diary and Notes

Let's all sing together:

And did those feet

In ancient times

Walk upon England's mountains green?

Wasn't that stirring? Are you feeling all patriotic, all full of British spunk? (I think the word spunk may have changed its meaning somewhat over the years). The thing we should really ask is where are these mountains? The highest point in England is Scafell Pike which is barely a mountain at all, and by international standards would be considered a small hill. For us vertically challenged Brits it does technically count as a mountain, as being a massive 978m at the top and thus over 2000 ft (609.6m) which is the current requirement in Britain to be called a mountain (according to the OED). You have to admit that the idea of "England's mountains green" is pushing it a bit.

So why all this patriotic singing and waving the cross of St. George? Have I just been knighted for services to mankind? Am I to be immortalised by a giant marble statue on the spare plinth in Trafalgar Square? No, not yet at least. What I'm all fired up about is the excellent piece of roast beef I had for my Sunday dinner - it was so good it deserved a blog entry.

"Looks a bit overdone to me Jonny boy." You say - but not at all, for this is no ordinary cut of scabby old cow but a truly wondrous thing indeed, the greatest roasting joint known to mankind, the forerib of beef.

"So what's so great about forerib and why is it looking a little overdone for roast beef?"

Permit me to wax on of the virtues of this most classic of things.

A long time ago, when the world was young and had just formed from the tiny particles of dust which form our solar system, poor old Jonny Bean had to cook a roast beef dinner for a group of ingrates and ignoramuses (see 28/10/2005) who didn't understand the importance of this most famous of meals. That time I didn't have forerib as it was impossible to get hold of in Germany. I had to settle for top rump (nowhere near as good). It was a fine meal but just wasn't the giant haunch of meat that made our country strong. When I cooked the beef the other day it was so beautiful I just had to take a photo and let the world see.

Forerib is delicious, juicy, soft and tender. For some reason it's not as popular as topside or top rump, possibly because of the bone, but people who love beef love forerib best and I am one of those. It also makes by far the best gravy, the layer of fat on the side melting juicily into the roasting tin and the marrow from the bone giving extra beefiness that you just don't get with other cuts of meat.

If you want some tips on roasting beef see the previous blog on the subject. With forerib you can't sear it in a pan as it's too big. Turn the oven up really high to start with, place the beef (smothered in mustard to help get a good singed outside) and place the beef on a rack over a roasting tin. Cook on a really high heat for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to about 170c and continue roasting at a the lower temperature. When it's cooked, remove from the oven and leave to stand for 15 minutes before carving (essential).

It was a fine dinner, a fine dinner indeed. Afterwards everybody who ate it was overcome with patriotic zeal and we stood and sang God Save the Queen before invading France and sacking Harfleur. That'll teach 'em to eat frogs.