Different cuts of beef require different methods of cooking, due to the different structures of muscle fibres and fat distribution in the animal.
When cooking beef, always season it first. You can keep it simple with salt and pepper, or rub garlic, herbs or spices into the flesh.
Use a meat thermometer; it will help determine what stage the beef is cooked to, from rare to well done, and gives a more consistent result.
Allow the meat to come up to room temperature before cooking and leave it to rest for at least 10–15 minutes after cooking – this allows the juices to spread throughout the meat, resulting in more succulent and tender meat.
Beef suitable for slow-cooking tends to have a high fat content, longer muscle fibres and more connective tissue, which is broken down in slow cooking. The most common cuts of beef for slow cooking include beef topside, braising beef, shin, cheeks, oxtail, and brisket.
Once the tough fibres are broken down from a slow-cook, these cuts, ignored for a long time, are some of the most flavoursome around.
Pot-roasting, stewing and braising are all excellent methods for slow-cooking beef. Brining beef is also great for achieving a tender finish – brisket is submerged in a flavoursome brine for a week to make classic salt beef.
Tender cuts of beef are better suited to quick cooking, either by quickly pan-frying, barbecuing or lightly roasting in the oven. A hot, direct heat is necessary to cook the beef quickly, but be careful not to overcook, as the beef will become dry and tough.
The cuts of beef which are most suited to rapid cooking are the parts of the animal that have had the least exercise, such as minute steak, fillet steak, tournedos, Chateaubriand, sirloin, rump, rib-eye, and porterhouse steaks, among others.
Beef can also be ground down into mince for quicker cooking, and flavoured with an assortment of herbs, seasonings and bindings to make burgers.
When cooking beef quickly in a pan or on a barbecue, flavour can be added by marinating the cut overnight.
A mainstay of British cuisine, as well as in Ireland and much of Europe, beef is traditionally served with a variety of greens or root vegetables, which complement the natural tenderness of the meat.
If looking for something slightly different to serve with beef, why not use Luke Holder's Beef cheek and fillet recipe as inspiration, which pairs the meat with Dorset snails, or even Mark Jordan's recipe which uses lobster as a partner to Jersey beef fillet – both of which demonstrate the versatility of beef’s flavour.