Christmas Beef

December 22, 2007

Warning: Not suitable for vegetarians!

This year we are cooking lunch on Christmas Day. It’s been several years since we cooked turkey for Christmas and didn’t really relish the idea of going back to it. When we were in London we often cooked a rib of beef on the bone, sometimes known as a standing rib, but here it is not a common cut of meat. Actually, many of the cuts that we are used to are not well known here which has led to changes in the types of meals we cook.

That aside we thought we might have a solution. A butcher in one of the villages, Xylotymbou, advertises as selling English (actually, the original butcher was from Scotland, so make that Scottish) cuts. Early last week we hopped in the car and drove there to place our Christmas order. Business must be good because despite it being before his published last order day he was already sold out. Not a single rib of beef to be had, though we could have had a dull sirloin in its place.

Somewhat dejected, we got back in the car and drove back towards Larnaca. The Christmas meal plan revolved around this piece of beef and now it looked like we would not be able to get it. Driving back we talked about where else we might get a joint … certainly not any of the supermarkets but maybe one of the other butchers might understand the cut we wanted?

We stopped at one just outside Larnaca, overlooking the sea.

No problem” he said when we asked if he could do a rib of beef for Christmas. After quick conversation about the number of people and therefore size of joint and the number of ribs we wanted he made a note in his diary and we agreed to come back to collect it on Saturday. As we drove away we weren’t entirely convinced that we and he had been talking about the same cut. We certainly didn’t know how much this might cost – the price wasn’t mentioned at all.

Today we headed back there as part of our last run of errands.

He recognised us as we walked in and quickly disappeared into the chiller at the back where he hangs the meat. He came back, not with a neat joint, but with a half carcass of beef.

Having confirmed that it was a three-rib piece we wanted he asked if we would prefer the joint cut straight or following the rib. Cutting straight would mean a joint which would stand better but would mean slicing through one of the ribs. Following the ribs would mean a sloping joint but three intact ribs. We agreed that following the rib was a better option so he proceeded to cut. A single slice, with a scarily sharp knife, separated our joint from the rest of the carcass. Then a cleaver was used to shorten the length of the ribs “Otherwise they will not fit in your oven” he said. A slice or two more to neaten and the joint was brought over for inspection.

It looks not unlike this.

Having agreed it looked wonderful it was bagged, popped on the scales and we handed over a little under £15CYP (£18GBP, $36USD) for about eight pounds of prime beef. Had we bought a similar joint from our old London supermarket we would have paid two, if not three, times the price.

The beef is now lightly oiled and seasoned and is sitting in the fridge. Only a few more days before we know whether it tastes as good as it looks. If so, it may be on the menu more than once a year ;-)

Merry Christmas to you all. We hope all of your holidays are wonderful, peaceful and joyous.

Ian & Mands


One comment

  1. Merry Christmas to you all too. All the best for 2008 :-)

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