Choose a cut that is perfect for roasting
The best joint for roasting is rib of beef. There should be plenty of fat on top of your cut, and preferably throughout as well. Even if you don’t like to eat the fat (which I find very strange but each to his own), it will greatly improve the taste and texture of the meat, making it juicy and rich.
Take the joint out of the fridge well in advance
Beef must be around room temperature before you stick it in the oven. Take your joint out of the fridge well in advance – at least 30 minutes, but preferably an hour or two (depending on how big it is). You can spend this time admiring it and thinking how wonderful it will be once cooked!
Season your joint just before cooking – I use a simple mix of salt and pepper, just rubbed all over the meat. This complements the flavour of the meat.
Seal the meat
The first step to roasting beef is to “seal” the meat so that all juices are kept inside while cooking. Some people advise frying the joint, but I think searing it in the oven is better, as the heat gets to the whole of the surface at once.
Preheat the oven to 250C/475F/Gas Mark 9 – please note this can take a while, so for best results use an oven thermometer to measure the temperature inside. Once the oven is extremely hot, stick your joint in for 15 minutes – regardless of size.
While the meat is searing, delicious sizzling meat smell will start to emerge in the kitchen. Enjoy it!
In South America, the Native Americans ate sun-dried venison and buffalo called tassajo, which was made with strips of meat dipped in maize flour, sun and wind dried, and then tightly rolled up into balls. North American Cree Indians mixed berries and suet (fat) with pounded cooked meat and pressed into concentrated small cakes to make pemmican.
Biltong came from pioneering South African forefathers who sun dried meat while traveling across the African subcontinent. Folklore has it that African tribesmen would place strips of venison under the saddles of their horses to tenderize and spice the meat! Seasoning became a blend of vinegar, salt, sugar, coriander and other spices.
The Indians and early settlers dried meat primarily from deer, elk or buffalo using salt, whatever spices they had and sun drying. As the Spanish arrived, the name evolved to charqui. Most travelers preferred to pound the charqui between large stones and boil it in water before eating. During ocean exploration and colonization, the Spanish sailors stocked the pacific islands with goats. What couldn’t be eaten would then be cut into strips and hung in their ships to air dry. When the Spanish Conquistadors invaded the Americas, they were surprised to see the natives of North America drying meat as well. Soon, the natives adopted the Spanish term, Charqui, only adding their accent; the word “jerky” first came to be.
North American Pioneers would first dry meat by hanging it on the outside of their covered wagon sun drying (2-3 days). Another method was to build a scaffold over a slow fire and smoke the strips. While the heat and smoke would complete the process in half a day, the smoking method required a stopover; it wasn’t long before awareness for disease and germs became prevalent and smoking became the norm.
Today jerky is made from thin strips of virtually any meat or from ground or chopped and formed meat. Manufacturers spice and dehydrate the product; some introduce smoke or using liquid smoke for flavoring.