Côte de bœuf, tomahawk steak, one bone rib, rib steak or cowboy steak is the most satisfying cut of beef: a cross between an enormous steak and a mini roast. Barbecue it or oven roast it, as long as you get it medium-rare.
What is côte de bœuf?
The French seem to be rather grandiose about their beef cuts: côte de bœuf means 'side of beef' - probably because it keeps falling onto one side when roasted in the oven. It is a slice cut from the whole rib of beef joint, on a solitary bone.
Is it the best cut of beef?
What a question. There are some who will only ever go for a fatless, tendonless, pristine and sterile fillet steak. There are sworn sirloin afficionados and there are rib eye fans. I'm leaving out T-boners because those guys are just greedy; and how is it even possible to eat so much?
The same goes for people's favourite cut for a beef roast: some like it topside, some like it sirloin. I say: all fine as long as it's not overcooked. Sirloin is a bit dry for me and roasting a whole fillet belongs on a special occasion, though it's ecstatically nice with wild mushrooms.
So is rib of beef the best after all?
I won't commit to a decisive answer to that question. What's best is what looks best on a given day at a given butcher's. You should never buy expensive cuts of meat without seeing them (I know, sometimes easier said) because you might set out to buy a nice bit of sirloin and the rump steak on display will sweep you off your feet: marbled, darkened with aging - and on special offer.
Why I like côte de bœuf
What do you do if there are only two of you and you crave a beef roast? Not an easy question to answer. As much as I like there being just the two of us, we’re systematically deprived of good things like a whole lamb leg roast.
Even with chicken, it’s a two-dayer. Half freshly roasted chicken on day one, the other half cold with a salad on day two, so it might seem a little boring a perspective even though I love roast chicken, hot or cold. Unless we’re having people round of course which is not every day and I normally go a bit more elaborate then than a roast chicken.
A proper beef rib-eye roast, full works, standing bone, at least three ribs is a rare occasion. So what do you do, to reiterate my original question?
That's when a côte is simply the best.
A steak AND a roast
Because it is basically an enormous rib-eye steak with the bone in, I would be tempted to cook it all in a pan, like a steak, but then I like my beef barely cooked and The Weather Man is of the medium-rare orientation. So I sear it and stick it in the oven for the statutory time, 15 minutes per pound at 180C.
You can skip the searing, whack the heat up in the oven for an initial 10 minutes, then follow by the prescribed time at lower temperature but it runs a risk of overcooking. And a charred mustardy crust is so gorgeous, it's worth putting up with a bit of smoke in the kitchen.