… so we got back to the cottage on Friday night and yes, whilst the log burner is now fully installed and looking rather beautiful, it seems that the workmen had never heard of a dust sheet. I have no way to fully describe the anger and frustration. Chimney soot gets everywhere, into all the cracks and crevices and sits like an oil on the curtains and fabrics. We were due for a spring clean but this took all day Saturday and was done not with a Marry Poppins-esque smile and snap but with a sullen Eyore style mumbled shuffle. By the time we finished we were too hot and bothered to have need for the fire itself and stumbled up to shower off the grime and into bed. What is it with these muppets? I think there’s an element of thinking that because it’s not their home it doesn’t really matter… but of course it kind of kills the enjoyment of the new stove if you’ve gotta spend a day cleaning up…
shin of beef stew
last week I was sent two beautiful cuts of meat from Grierson Organic and of course I couldn’t resist cooking something special with one of the cuts… plus i’d had the most random phone call with the lovely Sascha Grierson, who i’m sure now thinks i’m a madman, so I think I owe her and her wonderful Aberdeen Angus beef a bit of love…
… as you know, my attitude towards eating meat is that if you’re going to do it, do it rarely and when you do, try and buy the best quality meat you can at the time. You’re simply going to get a better product if the meat has been fairly treated, raised well and slaughtered humanely. Plus, if you eat it less often it will have less impact on your wallet, be much more of a treat and of course have a greater effect on the environment. One way to do this is to become a weekday vegetarian. I’ve found this incredibly easy and it’s going really well. It means that I really think about the meat I buy at the weekends and make something extra special. This beef stew was so incredibly mouthwatering yet so utterly basic, the beef speaks, no it sings for itself and was a absolute delight with every mouthful… I consider myself very fortunate indeed.
shin of beef – cut into chunks – I like all the fat left on as it adds flavour
3 tablespoons plain flour – seasoned well with salt and pepper
1 onion – peeled and roughly chopped
2 sticks of celery – chopped
2 cloves of garlic – crushed
5 or 6 chanterray carrots, sliced down the middle
2 large field or flat mushrooms – thickly chunked
a handful of frozen peas
1/2 litre of stock – I used vegetable bullion with 2 teaspoons of Bisto gravy powder in
1/2 litre red wine
fresh rosemary and thyme
i’ve used my small casserole dish which is perfect, if a little too small but anything similar with a lid will work nicely… you’ll do most of the cooking on the hob but you need to pre-heat the oven to 150C for the slow-cooking…
take to beef and roll it generously in the flour
pour a little olive oil into the casserole dish and gently heat, then add the beef in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan and let the meat brown – set aside
add a little more oil to the pan and then add the onions and let them soften slightly before adding the celery, garlic and carrots and very gently let them cook through… season well and place the lid on and let them sweat for roughly 5 mins until they are all beginning to soften. Spoon them out of the pan and set aside.
add the mushrooms and let them cook until soft and beginning to brown nicely.. I add lots of pepper at this stage, then let them cook some more.
add everything back into the pot and pour the stock on top, place the lid on and bung it in the oven for at least an hour to let the juices mingle and the stock thicken… longer than an hour is also good… again this is the kind of dish that tastes better reheated or even frozen and then reheated… throw in the frozen peas about a minute before serving
eat and of course, enjoy!