Masterchef judge and restaurateur John Torode can talk about beef until the cows come home.

His new book, John Torode's 'Beef', is devoted to all things bovine - from the most succulent steak to offal and other cuts that have fallen from favour in recent years.

It's not for the squeamish or part-time vegetarian, but a passionate head-to-tail celebration of this mighty meat.

The Australian chef, who has lived in the UK for more than 25 years, says he felt compelled to write the book after realising that many people felt confused about what cuts of beef to buy - and how to get the best out of them.

"When I opened Smiths of Smithfield in 2000, I was already well into my love affair with all things beef, but eight years on the relationship is well and truly cemented," John explains.

"So much of what I have read about beef is pointed toward the selected and lucky few, who have bags of cash and can afford to spend huge swathes of money.

"Good meat is not cheap, but it should not break the bank either, and there are plenty of butchers who are more than willing to give you sound advice."

While he champions the work of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, a conservation charity devoted to Britain's native livestock breeds, John says he is a realist.

"I know full well that most people do go to the supermarket, and the majority of Britons do most of their weekly shop in big stores," he says.

"So I'm happy to tell you that one thing the supermarkets do really well is cuts for stewing and braising. You can't go wrong with great hunks of shin - I make the best rendang in the world using shin, it can't be beaten for flavour and texture."

But he does want to encourage people to find a local butcher, who they can get to know and trust.

"This really helps when buying any type of meat. As you build a relationship with them, they will point you towards the best cuts and specials in any given season."

If you don't know a sirloin from silverside, and you're worried about looking like a meat-head at the butcher's or the meat counter, the inside of the book jacket features a complete guide to beef cuts. Swot up before you shop!

John shares three recipes from his new book - posh Steak Tartare, a show-stopping Cote de Boeuf and a good old-fashioned Potato-Topped Pie.


Serves 4

750g beef fillet tails
1 large bunch parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper
65ml Worcestershire sauce
100ml tomato sauce
100g capers, finely chopped
150g shallots, finely chopped
4 egg yolks
Tabasco sauce, to serve

Cut the meat into matchstick-thin strips, then bundle them up, turn them around 180 degrees and cut into little cubes. Start chopping the meat and continue until it eventually forms into a ball on the board.

Mix the meat with some of the parsley, some pepper, Worcestershire sauce and tomato sauce. Spoon it on to serving plates and shape into a mound. The remaining ingredients should be arranged around the meat, and an egg yolk placed in the centre of each serving. This allows everyone to add and mix and play and season - that's half the fun.


Serves 4

2 large ribs of beef, about 700g each
For the caramelised shallots:
50ml vegetable oil
12 whole banana shallots
50g butter
2 bay leaves
1 thyme sprig
Sea salt
250ml beef or veal stock

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the shallots and colour them over a high heat. Once coloured, drain off and throw away the oil. Add the butter, bay, thyme and some salt to the pan. Cook for a good five minutes, turning and shaking the shallots, but try not to burn the butter.

Add enough stock just to cover the base of the pan and allow the liquid to bubble away before adding any more; the sauce will reduce and become sticky while cooking the shallots at the same time. Continue until the shallots are very soft and have a thick buttery and beefy glaze.

Meanwhile, heat a griddle plate and season the beef well, remembering that it is thick. Score the fat a little and lay the cutlet fat-side down on the griddle. The fat will start to melt, and this is what is going to flavour the outside of this great big beauty.

Once the fat starts to char, let it fall naturally on to one side and leave the beef to cook for four minutes. Turn it over and cook for another four minutes. Turn again, but do it so that you rotate the meat by 180 degrees and grill for two more minutes. Flip it over, then put in a hot oven for about six minutes for a medium steak. Let it rest for five minutes before serving it whole - you have to show off!


Serves 6

1 sheet ready-rolled shortcrust pastry
1 egg, beaten
3 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
50g butter, melted, for brushing
For the filling:
50g butter
2 small onions, finely chopped
1kg beef clod (from the muscly neck area, great for mince) without too much fat, chopped
80g plain flour
250ml beef stock
2 thyme sprigs
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 handful chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
1 pinch grated nutmeg

First make the filling. Melt the butter in the saucepan. Add the onions and fry over medium heat until they soften. Add the beef and fry, pressing down with a fork until it has browned. Drain off the pan juices, adding them to the stock. Sprinkle the flour over the meat, stir, and continue cooking for another two minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the stock, mixing well. Return the pan to the heat and stir constantly until the mixture boils and thickens. Add the thyme, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, salt and pepper and nutmeg. Cover the pan and leave to simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 240C/Gas Mark 9. Line your pie tin with the shortcrust pastry and prick the base several times with a fork. Cover with a sheet of greaseproof paper and weigh down with baking beans. Bake blind for 20 minutes, then lift out the paper and baking beans and brush the pastry case with beaten egg.

Decrease the oven temperature to 190C/Gas 5. Spoon the filling into the pastry case and top with the sliced potatoes. Brush the potato with lots of melted butter, then put the pie into the oven and bake for 50 minutes to one hour. Serve with tomato ketchup.