Local recipe: Fire Bowl Steak
Looking for lovely, healthy alternative to your classic steak and chips? This fire bowl steak recipe uses local produce and is inspired by a Cambs farmer's trip to Africa.
In the last of our series of gorgeous recipes from local farms and farm shops in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, we bring you this beautiful autumn recipe for Fire Bowl Steak from farmer John Jefferies of Fuller’s Hill Farm in Cambs. Jenny Jefferies, John’s wife, compiled the book from which this recipe hails – For the Love of the Land, a compilation of recipes from farms around the UK to celebrate our British farming industry. We love the inventive cooking method needed for this recipe, which will be as enjoyable as the final result itself. Bon appetit!
“My recipe is a favourite way to cook some fantastic local produce, in this case Hereford beef from the River Gt Ouse flood meadows near Bedford. The rib eye steak is barbecued on the embers of a hot open fire, a method I saw on honeymoon with Jenny in Africa.”John Jefferies from Fuller’s Hill Farm
Preparation time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
- 2 côte de bœuf steaks
- 1 shallot
- Knob of butter
- Splash of brandy
- Black peppercorns, crushed (to taste)
- Splash of double cream
- Salad of your choice
First, visit your local farm shop and order the côte de bœuf steaks. These are trimmed rib-eye steaks on the bone, each about 50mm thick. This is the best cut as it well marbled, tender and flavoursome. I purchase steaks from Woodview Farm Shop. Their beef is raised by a family member on the flood plains of the River Gt Ouse at Gt Barford, so the land is very fertile and grows high quality grass.
About an hour and half before you want to eat, light your fire bowl. Stack it with as many dry logs as possible. If you don’t have a fire bowl, you can remove a circle of turf from your lawn, about 60cm in diameter. Dig out about 100mm of soil and make a small bank around the edge. Light your fire in the pit you have just made. Replace the turf the next day and water it well.
At the same time, take your steak out of the fridge, so it can warm up to room temperature. During this time you can also make your peppercorn sauce. Finely dice the shallot and fry gently in butter. Add the brandy, crushed peppercorns and double cream. Thicken the sauce over the heat then set aside. Preheat your normal oven to 150°c.
Prepare the salads of your choice. I use locally grown new potatoes garnished with chives and a little mayo alongside a green salad that normally includes coriander and tomatoes from the garden. But a baby leaf salad, basil with mozzarella and tomato or a Waldorf salad will do the job equally well.
When your fire bowl is well lit, after about an hour, knock down the logs so that you have a good 50 to 75mm of glowing hot embers. Simply place the steaks straight on to the embers and cook them for 4 minutes per side. After the steaks are cooked (you might need to clean off the embers) place them in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, place a few more logs on the fire so you have a focal point for the rest of the evening.
Remove the steaks from the oven and allow them to rest for a couple of minutes. Then just carve off slices of succulent steak and enjoy with your salads, peppercorn sauce and a glass of red wine. I would normally serve this with a good Chilean Carménère or Argentinian Malbec.