What better dish than steak to eat when sitting down to watch England play football? Red meat and sport go hand-in-hand (sort of), and something’s needed to cushion the blow if (when) we get sent home – probably by Argentina if it’s in the knockout stages.
Our famous South American nemesis might be excused however, as there are few wines better suited to prized Wagyu steak than the country's Malbec.
I had both recently. And strangely, the Wagyu (and wine – but not so odd) came from Aldi, a supermarket known more for its budget products. But in the hope of showing it’s got more than one cow in its herd, the chain is tomorrow (June 12) launching a limited offer of rib-eye and sirloin cuts to celebrate the World Cup, and teamed up with Jean Christophe Novelli no less to demonstrate how best to cook them.
The meat hails from New Zealand, as according to Aldi UK farms are not up to scratch. Exhibiting his illustrious technique at a tasting event last week, Novelli fried his dry, with only half a clove of garlic and sprigs of rosemary and thyme.
“It doesn’t need anything more,” the Frenchman explained, “the flavour alone is enough.”
Wagyu – of Japanese origin – comes from grass-fed cows and is celebrated for its marbling, its tenderness. Some even believe the meat is massaged by seductive entertainers in preparation (probably not).
Aldi describing its meat as “succulent” may be at least partly excused. After watching Novelli fill the room with meaty aromas, we were served. It wasn’t quite the stuff I’ve been fortunate enough to try in the past, but it was pretty good for a supermarket buy. Wagyu is graded numerically from 1-9 (sometimes 12) and Aldi lists its offerings between 2-6.
Lunch came with a dressed salad, “we need some greenery” explained Novelli, and some of Aldi’s chunky chips, “I just love chips – nothing goes with steak better”, he added. Everything was tasty, but I’m not sure my Wagyu was from a grade 6 batch.
Still, the clincher is they’re only £6.99 a pop – remarkably cheap. And whether they’re the top billing or not they’ve been labelled with the revered name and such a proclamation can’t be slapped on any old piece of cow.
In fact, any steak under £7 is affable. These are fresh, “meat can never be frozen” as Novelli rightly noted, matured for 21 days, and my knife sliced through with promised ease.
Aldi says its ‘Speciality Selected’ range is up 60 per cent in the last month and when its limited stock hits shelves tomorrow sales I’ve no doubt will further improve. Alongside a glass of Argentinean Malbec and a portion of hopeful World Cup dreams, the discount brand is far more likely to succeed than England in Brazil.
The ‘Special buy’ Wagyu steaks are available in all Aldi UK stores from Thursday June 12, while stocks last.