Have you discovered one of the unsung gastronomic delights of Andalucía, Retinto beef?
While Ibérico ham is well-known outside Spain, Retinto beef is an undiscovered treat for many people in the UK.
The meat comes from Retinto breed cattle, named after the distinctive, dark colour of their hides.
Indigenous to Spain and Portugal, the Retinto is a combination of the Andalusian Red, Andalusian Blond, and Extremadura Red breeds.
Retinto cattle have black noses and hooves, horns which are white and shaped like lyres, and they are medium sized. Cows stand 136cms in height and weight between 380kg and 590kg. Bulls are larger, at around 141cms in height and weighing up to 1000kg.
The cattle are hardy, the cows are bred for their maternal instinct and ability to raise calves, and the meat is of excellent quality with a deep, pink colour.
The most prized Retinto meat is called añojo. It comes from an animal aged between one and two.
It is tender, juicy and tasty meat with a high protein content.
One of the reasons for the meat being so highly valued in Spain is the way the cattle are fed.
The cattle are raised in lush pasturelands around Cadiz, eating grass, shrubs, branches, and acorns.
The high-quality nature of the meat led to the formation of the Retinto National Association which certifies all Retinto beef, and the meat being recognised by both the Spanish government and the EU.
For visitors to Andalucía, there are festivals which allow you to try all sorts of dishes using the beef.
In September, there is the Rutas del Retinto in Zahara de los Atunes where several local restaurants create elaborate tapas dishes from Retinto beef, the main ingredient.
A popular vote is then held to find the winner. It’s an event which has been held since 2010, inspired by a festival of tuna which put the area on the map.
A similar event is held in nearby Conil de la Frontera in December.
What are the main cuts?
Tenderloin– A perfect roast, this cut can also be rolled to include a stuffing of mushrooms and spinach, seared, and teamed with herb and spice rubs or rich sauces
Beef chop– A wonderful mid-week main meal or barbecue staple, this cut is perfect grilled. They make exceptional chops.
Entrecôte– Juicy steaks suitable for grilling, frying, or barbecuing. A tasty weekend treat – ideal for a special, romantic meal.
Which wines should I pair with Retinto beef?
12 Meses 2012– A wonderful combination with any hearty main course, this robust, cherry-red wine made from Shiraz, Merlot, and Tempranillo grapes would be wonderful with Retinto beef.
Tintilla– The hints of cherry and black pepper make this a good companion for beef.
Alhocen Syrah Merlot– A rich red with hints of pepper, cloves, and red fruits, this pairs so well with meat.