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Back to Basics: housekeeper's cut

Everything you need to know about the housekeeper's cut of beef.


Irish beef is recognised around the world as being of extremely high quality, but many people stick to more old favourites such as fillet steak or minced beef. If you’re looking to expand your repertoire, we think that our beginner’s guide to housekeeper’s cut is a great place to start.

In our Back to Basics series, we look at some common ingredients to help make sure our readers are making the most of the great produce that we have access to. Previously, we looked at scallops and today we’re talking about housekeeper’s cut of beef.

The nutritional value of beef cannot be underestimated; it’s a great source of protein, as well as providing iron, zinc, vitamins A and D, as well as other nutrients. Opt for a lean cut, like housekeeper’s cut, which is low in unsaturated fat to maximise your nutritional intake. 

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Irish beef is renowned for its quality and a lot of that is to do with the land that the cattle is reared on: Grass-fed cattle results in better tasting beef and in Ireland, cattle are left to graze in the fields for most of the year. Grass-fed beef has higher levels of vitamin E and beta-carotene compared to grain-fed beef and it also has a higher ratio of omega 3 fatty acids and CLAs, which have been linked to health benefits such as lower cholesterol and reduced cancer risks. Irish food safety standards are extremely high and any beef products that are made in Ireland follow an extremely strict process, so you know you’re in safe hands! 

Hugh Maguire The Smokin' Butcher
Hugh Maguire The Smokin' Butcher

From the butcher's mouth

We asked The Smokin’ Butcher Hugh Maguire for some tips about buying and storing housekeeper’s cut to make sure you get the best out of it:

“Housekeeper’s cut comes from the forequarter of beef, some people call it top rib. This cut sits on top of the animal’s rib and it’s quite a lean piece of beef that requires careful cooking. Pot roasting is the traditional way to cook housekeeper’s cut or you could use a slow cooker. Lean beef like housekeeper’s cut doesn’t have much fat to protect it, so it needs to be kept covered in the oven to make sure it doesn’t dry out – I use a heavy-duty pot with a like to pot roast housekeeper’s cut and cook it at a low temperature with some stock, carrots and onions.”

As with any food you by, it’s important to make sure you know what to look out for when you’re shopping. Hugh told us that the best thing to do is to head straight to a craft butcher, as they will have the knowledge to tell you how to handle the meat.

“When shopping for beef, the colour of the meat is so important and it should be unbruised. There is a little bit of fat on the top of the housekeeper’s cut that should always be a slightly off-white colour as if it’s too yellow then that means it’s old.”

Ryan Stringer's perfect housekeeper's cut, image by Harry Weir
Ryan Stringer's perfect housekeeper's cut, image by Harry Weir

How to cook

Cooking beef is a daunting task for some people as overcooking it is a surefire way to ruin your whole meal. To ensure that your housekeeper’s cut is cooked perfectly, Hugh recommends using a digital thermometer to check that your meat is up to temperature before you remove it from the oven and leave it to rest.

In terms of pairing housekeeper’s cut with other ingredients, it’s extremely versatile, but we particularly like it with roasted vegetables. It goes really well with mushrooms, celeriac, potatoes, carrots, parsnips and tomatoes.

If you’re looking for some recipe inspiration, this recipe for the perfect housekeeper’s cut with Yorkshire puddings from Ryan Stringer of Ely is great – you’ll always end up with tender beef if you follow Ryan’s instructions.