Day 4 of my current blogging101 course is to write for your ideal reader. I’m a bit late starting this post as I’ve been trying to work out just who my ideal reader is. I discussed it with the Other Half and his answer was the truest so far ‘a girl a lot like you’. I’ve always said I write for myself and if anyone else enjoys it, that’s a bonus. The more I thought about it, the more I realised he was right. I’m writing to a younger version of me, trying to get across that cooking is a lot simpler than people think so just cracking on and have a go. Fortunately, the next post I had planned was ideal for this, a simple sausage casserole, the ultimate comfort food.
Due to real life being both difficult and hectic at the moment, I am guilty of neglecting my blog at the minute so I apologise for that now.
Hectic and difficult mean only one thing for me, slow cooked comfort food and what better than beef stew? Beef stew made from ox cheek in lots of red wine!
2 Beef cheeks
1 bottle of red wine
3 garlic cloves
Handful of sliced mushrooms
First of all marinade the cheeks in 300ml of the red wine with chopped garlic cloves, if you have any thyme this would also be a good addition as is a healthy dose of cracked black pepper. I left mine overnight but anything from an hour upwards will be fine.
Dice your carrots and finely slice the onion and then fry of in a little butter or oil until softened, then add the bacon and mushroom. At this point you can fry the cheeks to brown them but I never find this a vital step. Add the meat and marinade and bring to the boil, stir well, add the tin of tomatoes and enough wine to cover and then cook on a low heat for 6-8 hours. You can probably use a slow cooker but I cook mine in a stock pot on top of the woodburner. In the end it cooked for 10 hours but as it is not a fierce heat that was fine, alternatively you can cook for 3-4 hours on a low gas in the oven but you will need to check it doesn’t dry out.
Serve with creamy mash. Fairly quick to prepare, the slow cooking takes out all the headache and you end up with a meltingly tender mouthful of gorgeousness. If you are frightened of cooking beef cheeks, there really is no need, they make the richest stew and all they really need is a lot of time. The fat adds to the flavour but if they are very fatty you can ask your butcher to trim, or do it yourself at home.
The other morning small person declared she wanted beef curry for tea that night, as I hadn’t written a meal plan and was short of ideas I decided this was one of her better suggestions. Also I had a few days annual leave and the opportunity to cook beef on a low temperature all day presented itself.
This recipe is an amalgamation of several I read online and, because small person does not like hot spice, without too much heat in it.
500g beef (I used stewing steak)
1 red pepper
2 garlic cloves
Tbsp fresh garlic
1 medium green chilli
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cumin
Tin of chopped tomatoes
Small pot of natural yogurt
Handful chopped coriander
Add some oil to a pot and soften the chopped onions and pepper. Throw in the mushrooms stir well and leave for a few minutes to cook. Put the garlic and ginger in a professor with a little oil and make a paste. Add this to the pot along with the garlic-ginger paste, cook for a minute or so. Put in the beef and stir until browned, then add in all the slices. Again stir until coated and cook for a minute.
Now mix in the tinned tomatoes. I cooked this at Gas Mark 1 for 3 hours and added extra liquid by finding the tin with water and adding that too, in a slow cooker or on the hob you may not need additional liquid but keep an eye on it. After three hours I turned out the oven out left the pot in there for another hour.
The great thing about cold weather is slow cooked, homely food. As the Other Half’s parents were cooking on Sunday evening, I decided to use the weekend to make something with slow cooked beef. Originally I had planned on doing boeuf bourguignon but that somehow changed to beef goulash.
I don’t have a slow cooker but I do have a cast iron pot and a wood burner so I duly lit the fire, started cooking and then left the goulash to do its stuff for about 6 hours, stirring occasionally when I hurled an extra log on the fire. The house smelt amazing and was nicely warm, despite the inclement weather outside.
2 onion, sliced
2 peppers, one orange, one yellow, finely sliced
3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced or minced
500g diced beef
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp. tomato puree
400g tin of tomatoes
Beef stock cube
1 tub sour cream or crème fraiche
Add the beef and continue stirring until the meat is browned before mixing in the paprika, making sure everything is coated. Add the tomatoes and rinse the tin with a little hot water, stir in the water and a crumbled stock cube, then squeeze in the tomato puree. Bring to the boil, then cover and either cook on a low heat for 2 hours or slow cook for 6 hours.