Chine of Beef

As meats go the flesh of the cow has always been held in high esteem. Grand titles have been bestowed on certain cuts. The Sirloin for example. The legend has it that it was knighted by Henry VIII although the etymology is more likely to be from the old French sur la longe, meaning above the loin.

The Baron of beef is probably a bit grander.The Penguin Companion to Food (2002),defines the Baron as “both sides of the rump together, with the back part of the sirloin attached”. in context that is a big bit of meat. Typically 100 to 200lb in weight it was popular in victorian times to feed large gatherings with reports of such events as the coronation of George IV feeding 700 children in Kingston and Queen Victoria rewarding veterans of the Boer war with a Roasted Baron.

Why a Baron? again from the french derivation for the lower round part or bas-rond.

Cuts of beef are confusing. From country to country different names for the same cuts exist. even if you work these out there can be regional differences within the same country.

A chine of beef generally refers to the backbone but may also refer to a bone in forerib. Samuel Pepys has multiple entries of dining on a chine of beef and his description sounds to be the latter.

on 30th December 1661 he states “I staid at the Mitre, whither I had invited all my old acquaintance of the Exchequer to a good chine of beef, which with three barrels of oysters and three pullets, and plenty of wine and mirth, was our dinner, and there was about twelve of us”. Multiple other references support his liking of such a cut.

A chine of beef

How to cook such a cut? Well pepys doesnt give us much idea but talking to butchers this is not a Rib of beef which can be served rare. This needs a long slow cook. Its a hard roking piece of muscle from tyhe from end with a thick fat but little marbling.

It needs a low oven at 140 (or 120 if fan oven). Quick sear to get a bit of maillard reaction. As its low and slow a rub or some mustard will create a great crust.  A decent sized joint will nedd 3-4 hours covered in foil then another hour or so to get a good bark-like crust.


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