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Archive for the ‘Beef’ Category

We cooked this for dinner on Halloween, you need a good eating pumpkin, like Crown Prince, rather than a carving pumpkin. The oxtail is a bit of a fiddle but it’s worth it and you can do all the fiddly bits well in advance. The result is fabulously rich and tasty.

Wine Suggestion: to cut through the richness you need a red with both a bit of acidity and tannins and a favourite of ours for this purpose is Chianti. Tonight the Pian del Ciampolo from Montevertine in the Chianti Classico region who have stepped outside the system but still use the classic grapes for the appellation. Young and joyful but with a serious backbone and a good match for the dish.

Oxtail stew with pumpkin and cinnamon – serves 6

  • 2kg oxtail pieces
  • 200g shallots, roughly chopped
  • 3 large carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 400ml red wine
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 10 sprigs of thyme
  • 5 sprigs of rosemary
  • zest of ½ an orange, peeled into long strips
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 500g pumpkin, cut into 2.5 cm cubes (you could use butternut squash but try and get pumpkin if you can)
  • 300ml water

FOR THE GREMOLATA

  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped parsley
  • grated zest of 1 large lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4.

Heat a large heavy-based pan over a high heat, it needs to be big enough to hold the whole stew later, and add 2 tbsp of olive oil. When the oil is smoking hot add some oxtail pieces and fry until well browned on all sides. You will need to do this in batches and don’t put too many in at once or they will start to stew rather than fry. Transfer the browned pieces to a colander so the excess fat can drain off.

If there is a lot of fat in the pan, tip some of it off, then add the shallots, carrots and garlic. Cook these over a medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, until golden brown.

Add the wine to the pan and scrape the base with a wooden spoon to get any crusty tasty bits off the bottom. Bring to the boil and simmer until almost evaporated, then add the tomatoes. Tie the thyme and rosemary sprigs together and add to the sauce, then add the orange zest, bay leaves, cinnamon, star anise, black pepper and some salt. Transfer the sauce to a deep baking dish or roasting tray big enough to take the oxtail in a single layer. Set the oxtail pieces on top. Put a sheet of baking parchment directly over the oxtail, then cover with a tight-fitting lid or a couple of layers of tinfoil, then bake for 2-3 hours or until the meat comes away easily from the bone.

Lift the oxtail out of the sauce and into a large bowl, then leave to cool slightly. When it’s cool enough to handle, pick all the meat from the bones and put into the heavy-based pan that you used to brown it in, discard the fatty bits and the bones. Add the sauce from the baking tray to the meat along with the pumpkin cubes and the 300ml of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft. Season to taste.

To make the gremolata, mix the parsley, lemon zest and garlic together. Transfer the stew to a serving bowl and sprinkle the gremolata on top.

(Original recipe from Ottolenghi the Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, Ebury Press, 2008.)

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Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke and Rejina Pyo has been on our bookshelves for ages. We take it down occasionally and remind ourselves that we should really go and get some Korean ingredients. At last we have bought gochujang chilli paste, gochugaru red pepper powder and a big bottle of roasted sesame seed oil, so we can get cooking. This beef dish could not be simpler and the flavours are fab.

Wine Suggestion: as we’re pretty new to Korean flavours we had no idea what to match and just opened what our guests had brought along; the Olianas Cannonau (Grenache) from Sardinia. A lovely wine which was both subtle and elegant, and heady with spice and warm sunshine; very well balanced. Plus it was a delight with the Bulgogi stew.

Korean Beef & Vegetable Stew – bulgogi jeongol – serves 4 to 6

  • 1 quantity marinated beef, see below
  • 100g rice noodles
  • 1 litre good quality beef stock
  • 1 tbsp gochujang chill paste
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp roasted sesame seed oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½ an onion, finely sliced
  • ½ a red pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • ½ a courgette, halved lengthways and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 large carrot, halved lengthways and sliced into thin strips
  • 50g enoki or shitake mushrooms
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

FOR THE MARINATED BEEF:

  • 450g beef sirloin, cut into very thin bite-size pieces
  • 1 Asian or 2 regular pears, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
  • ¼ onion, roughly chopped
  • 1cm piece of ginger, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2½ tbsp soy sauce
  • 1½ tbsp honey
  • 1½ tbsp roasted sesame seed oil
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Start by marinading the beef. Put all of the ingredients, except the beef, into a food processor and whizz until smooth. Pour into a bowl then stir in the sliced beef. Cover and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Soak the noodles in a bowl of water according to the instructions on the pack, about 30 minutes.

Put the beef stock, gochujang paste, soy sauce, sesame seed oil and garlic into a pan and bring to the boil.

Meanwhile, arrange the onion, red pepper, courgette, carrot, mushrooms, and most of the scallions in a pile around the edge of a large pot with a lid, and put the raw marinated bulgogi in the middle. Drain the noodles and tuck these in beside the beef.

When the beef stock has come to a rolling boil, put the vegetable pan over a high heat and pour in the hot stock. Cover and bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until everything is cooked through.

Just before serving, mix it all together in the pan and sprinkle over the toasted sesame seeds and remaining scallions.

(Original recipe from Our Korean Kitchen by Jordan Bourke & Rejina Pyo, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2015.)

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Feather Blade Braised in Port

Feather blade is such a good value cut of meat and delicious when cooked low and slow. A great dish for the colder months. Serve with potato, onion & horseradish potatoes and some greens. You can make this in advance and reheat before serving.

Wine suggestion: As this is cooked with Port we’d suggest a dry and full-bodied red wine from Portugal if you can find it. As we’d used Quinta de la Rosa’s Ruby Port for this idish it was approriate to drink their Tinto

Feather Blade Braised in Port – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 feather blade steaks (about 200g each)
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 4 cloves of garlic, bashed
  • 2 carrots, halved crossways
  • a bunch of thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 star anise
  • 6 white peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 300ml port
  • 1.2 litres of beef stock
  • a little flour to thicken the sauce if you like

Preheat the oven to 140C/120 fan/gas 1.

Heat the oil in a large, ovenproof, casserole dish. Season the steaks with salt, then sear in the oil until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Do this in batches if you need so the pan isn’t overcrowded. Transfer to a plate.

Add the onion, garlic, carrots, leek, a small handful of the thyme, bay leaves, start anise and peppercorns and fry for 10-15 minutes or until lightly caramelised. Add the tomato purée and port and simmer for 15 minutes or until the port is reduced and syrupy. Add the beef stock and bing to a gentle simmer. Return the meat and any juices to the pan, then cover and cook in the oven for 3 hours.

Gently remove the steaks from the pan, then strain the sauce into a clean saucepan (discard the veg). Bring the sauce to a fast boil and reduced by about half. We thickened the sauce a little with some flour too but you don’t have to do this. Put the meat in the casserole dish to keep warm while you reduce the sauce. To serve, pour the reduced sauce over the meat in the casserole dish and cover with the lid. Bring to a simmer over a low heat, check the seasoning, then serve.

(Original recipe from Marcus Everyday by Marcus Wareing, HarperCollinsPublishers, 2019.)

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Steak Diane

Remember this!?!?

We’re not sure if we’ve definitely had it before but remember it on every restaurant menu when we were kids and it has ingredients we’d choose. However, we were probably opting for the Chicken Maryland or something just as classy! It tastes reminiscent of those old fashioned dishes you still get in French restaurants. Bring it back we say – it’s absolutely delicious and you get to flambé, which is always very exciting! We served this with a rib-eye steak cooked rare on the barbecue, but it’s up to you for cut and doneness. Some watercress or other greens work for a side too.

Wine Suggestion: It was a special occasion for us so we raided the our dwindling cellar and chose a classic Bordeaux, the Chateau Haut Bages Averous 2005. Even if this isn’t to hand we’d suggest a Cabernet dominant blend and you’ll be happy.

Sauce Diane – serves 4

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 25g butter
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 150g button mushrooms, sliced
  • 120ml brandy
  • 150ml white wine
  • 150ml beef stock
  • 150ml cream
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • a good pinch of caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • a squeeze of lemon juice

Heat a large sauté pan and heat the olive oil and the butter until foaming. Add the shallot and mushroom and cook for a few minutes to soften.

Pour over the brandy, then light the pan with a match and allow the flames to subside. Add the white wine and simmer until reduced by half.

Stir in the stock, cream, Worcestershire sauce, sugar and some seasoning. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until thickened to a sauce consistency. Stir in the parsley and lemon juice.

(Original recipe from Neven Maguire’s Complete Family Cookbook, Gill Books, 2016.)

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Hanger Steak with Shallots

We adore this cut of beef but it’s not always easy to get in Irish butchers. Talk to your butcher in advance and tell them you want a piece of onglet or hanger steak – they should be able to order it for you, and it’s much cheaper than some other cuts.

We cut this across the grain and it’s meltingly tender so you can be brave and serve “blue” like we did here, but it also works well at your choice of doneness if you prefer.

Wine Suggestion: we think this combination of meltingly tender beef and the buttery shallots in red wine goes with Rhône reds – Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre et al; either as a blend or Syrah alone. Tonight we had one of those insider wines, a Côtes du Rhône labelled under Jean-Paul Daumen’s name. He’s the owner-winemaker at Domaine de la Vieille Julienne, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a superb domaine with an enviable reputation. The wines under his name are from a mix of vineyards from the estate and friends, all farmed organically and biodynamically by Jean-Paul and made with just as much care as his own domaine. The result … great value and a delicious pairing.

Hanger Steak with Shallots – L’onglet à l’échalote – serves 4

  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 800g onglet/hanger steak (you will probably get 2 long pieces)
  • 250g shallot, finely sliced
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 125ml red wine
  • 100ml beef stock
  • watercress, to garnish

As soon as you get home from the butchers put your steak into a dish and sprinkle generously with salt. Then put in the fridge until you need it but take it out of the fridge about an hour before you want to cook it.

Heat a large frying pan over a high heat. Add a knob of the butter and when it starts to melt add your steak. You might have to cook it in batches depending on the size of your pan. A rough guide is to cook for about 2 minutes on each side for very rare steak or longer if you prefer it more well done. This is dependent on the size of the steak, so you should do the finger test on the meat and go with gut feel. Put the steak onto a warm plate, cover with foil and keep warm while it rests.

Melt half of the remaining butter in the same frying pan and add the shallots, thyme and bay leaf. Cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes or until softened. Add the red wine and the stock, turn the heat up to high and cook until the liquid has reduced by half. Season with salt and lots of black pepper, throw away the herbs. Pour the meat juices from the resting plate into the sauce and whisk in the remaining butter to make a thick, glossy sauce.

Slice the steak across the grain into thick slices and serve on top of the shallots with some watercress on the side.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Secret France, BBC Books, 2019.)

To do the finger test for steak you compare the resistance of the cooking meat to pressing the ball of your palm with a finger from the other hand

  • Blue: an open palm, relaxed
  • Rare: thumb and your first, index finger touching
  • Medium Rare: thumb and second finger
  • Medium: thumb and third, ring finger
  • Well Done: thumb and fourth, little finger

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Chinese Meatball Stir-fry

This is a diet dish but is packed with flavour and you get a decent bowl full to really fill you up. The recipe is by Tom Kerridge and the ingredient list is long, but it’s easy to put together and other than the fresh veg you probably have most of the ingredients in the cupboard.

Chinese Meatball Stir-fry – serves 4

  • vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, very finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 750g lean beef mince
  • 1 ½ tsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 large red onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 200g carrots, thinly sliced on an angle
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2.5cm piece of ginger, finely grated
  • 1 large red pepper, diced
  • 1 large yellow pepper, diced
  • 300ml fresh beef stock
  • 120g Asian mushrooms or chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 ½ tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 ½ tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 80g mangetout
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced on an angle

Heat the vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Remove the pan from the heat and add the soy sauce. Leave to cool.

Put the beef mince into a large bowl and add the cooled onions, Chinese five-spice, bicarbonate of soda and plenty of salt and pepper. Mix well with your hands, then divide into 16 equally sized meatballs. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours to firm up.

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.

Put a large non-stick wok/frying pan over a high heat. When hot, add a splash of vegetable oil. Add the meatballs and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until browned on all sides. Transfer to an oven tray and bake for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, return the wok/frying pan to a high heat. Add the sesame oil, red onion and carrots and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2 minutes stirring continually. Add the peppers and cook for 4 minutes, add a dash of the beef stock at any point if things start to stick.

Add the mushrooms, meatballs and half of the beef stock to the pan, then add the hoisin and oyster sauces and the rice wine vinegar. Stir well and bring to a simmer.

Mix the cornflour to a paste with 1 tbsp of the remaining beef stock and pout into the pan, along with the rest of the stock.

Add the mangetout and scallions and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes or until the mangetout are just cooked and the meatballs heated through.

(Original recipe from Lose Weight for Good by Tom Kerridge, Absolute Press, 2017.)

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Spiced Roast Beef with Red Wine Gravy

Fillet of beef is not a cut we usually go for but we thought we’d try it as it seems fittingly festive and a bit extravagant. This is a pricey cut but it melts in the mouth and cuts out so beautifully.

Wine Suggestion: This is the type of dish that deserves something extra special to accompany it so we dipped into our cellar to revisit the Chateau Capbern Gasquetton 2009 and while still very youthful was a great match. Other Cabernet Sauvignon wines and blends would be our first choice, but if you’re looking for something different we also think a good cru from Beaujolais, like Domaine Rochette’s Morgon, would go alongside this just as well.

Spiced roast beef with red wine gravy – serves 6

  • 2 tbsp mixed peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1.5kg fillet of beef
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain or English mustard
  • 3 red onions, skins left on, thickly sliced into rounds
  • a few thyme leaves, to serve (only if you have them)

FOR THE GRAVY

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1½-2 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 beef stock cubes
  • 3-4 tbsp redcurrant jelly
  • 400ml red wine

Up to 2 days beforehand you can crush the peppercorns and seeds together using a pestle and mortar. Brush the beef all over with the mustard, then roll in the peppercorn mixture to coat. Cover and chill.

Remove the beef from the fridge 2 hours before you want to start cooking it to allow it to come to room temperature.

Heat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.

Heat the oil in a pan big enough to hold the beef and brown it all over, seasoning with salt.

Scatter the onions over the base of a roasting tin and set the beef on top. Roast for 20 minutes for rare, 25 minutes for medium, and 35 minutes for well-done. You need your instincts a bit here – we like our beef rare but our fillet was kind of fat rather than long and thin and so it took 30 minutes to get it cooked just how we like it. If you have a meat thermometer this is where it excels, and they aren’t expensive so are a very useful addition to any kitchen.

Lift the beef out of the tin and rest on a warm platter, covered with foil, for about 30 minutes.

Put the roasting tin onto the hob and stir in the oil, cornflour and crumbled stock cubes. Stir in the jelly, then gradually add the wine and 400ml boiling water, scraping the sticky bits from the bottom of the tin. Simmer for 15 minutes until reduced a bit. Season, then sieve into a clean pan to keep warm, discard the onions.

Slice the beef, scatter over some thyme leaves (if using) and serve with the gravy.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Thai beef saladMid-week celebrations can be a bit tricky, especially when work and life are busy. This was Jules’ choice for birthday dinner on a Tuesday in November and we would recommend it for a mid-week birthday at any time of year.

Wine Suggestion: We opened something a bit special given the occassion, the Tyler Dierberg Block 5 Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara county in California. Despite the umami/savoury, hot/spicy, salty and sweet flavours of the salad this was an excellent match providing layers of excitement and flavour.

Thai Beef Salad – serves 4

  • 1-2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 500g fillet steak

FOR THE DRESSING:

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cm piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 lemongrass stalk
  • 1 red chilli
  • 2 limes
  • 3 tbsp nam pla (fish sauce)
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar

FOR THE SALAD:

  • 3 shallots
  • large handful of Thai basil
  • large handful of coriander
  • large handful of mint

TO SERVE:

  • 5 tbsp roasted unsalted peanuts
    • Roast the peanuts on a baking tray for 8-10 minutes at 190ºC until golden, then tip into a bowl to cool.
  • 3 tbsp fried shallots (see below)
    • Finely slice the shallots and fry in a wok or frying pan, in 5mm to 1cm of oil, over a medium heat, until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer onto kitchen paper to cool and crisp up.

To make the dressing: peel and crush the garlic and peel and finely grate the ginger, reserving the juice. Remove the outer leaf of the lemongrass stalk and trim the ends, leaving the tender middle section; very finely chop this. Halve, deseed and finely dice the chilli. Squeeze the juice from the the limes to give 4 tbsp.

Put the lime juice, nam pla and sugar in a large bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the garlic, ginger and its juice, lemongrass and chilli and stir again.

For the salad: halve and very finely slice the shallots. Pick the herb leaves and leave whole.

Heat enough oil to cover the base of a heavy frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the steak and cook for 1-2 minutes per side, then remove and rest for 5 minutes.

Put the raw shallots and herbs into a large bowl. Finely slice the steak across the grain and add to the salad. Add half the dressing and toss to coat everything. Transfer to a serving dish and scatter with the peanuts and fried shallots. Serve the rest of the dressing on the side.

(Original recipe from Leiths How to Cook, Quadrille, 2014.)

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Steak in Porcini Mushroom Sauce

We’re all about mushrooms at this time of year, both dried and fresh, as they have the smell and taste of Autumn. We cooked this when the clocks changed and we got home to a cold house after a long weekend away. Serve with steamed rice or Italian roasties, and some greens if you like.

Wine Suggestion: Luigi Pira makes some really thoughtful and traditional Barolos and his Langhe Nebbiolo is no different; it tastes of Nebbiolo with the tar and roses, firm tannins sit well with the perfectly ripe wine and, with a touch of age, velvety undergrowth characters. An excellent match to both the steak and the mushrooms.

Steak in Porcini Mushroom Sauce – serves 4

  • 15g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 450g sirloin steak, cut into ½ cm strips
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and grated
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • 50ml red wine
  • 3 tbsp chopped flatleaf parsley
  • 150g mascarpone cheese

Put the dried porcini in a bowl and pour over enough boiling water to cover. Set aside for 5 minutes.

Season the steak really well with salt and black pepper. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan and fry the steak in batches over a hight heat for a maximum minute per side, or until nicely browned but not cooked through. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil.

Pour another 2 tbsp of oil into the pan and fry the chestnut mushrooms for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for another minute. Pout in the wine and cook for another 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, drain the porcini mushrooms and reserve the liquid. Stir the liquid into the frying pan (leave the last gritty bit behind). Roughly chop the porcini mushrooms and add to the sauce.

Stir in the parsley and mascarpone, then return the meat to the pan. Cook gently for a couple of minutes.

Season to taste and serve with rice or Italian roasties.

(Original recipe from Pronto! by Gino D’Acampo, Kyle Books, 2014.)

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Bouef Bourgignon

A classic dish for good reason. We’ve tried many versions over the years but always come back this simple recipe. Serve with mash and greens.

Despite the name, we prefer juicier reds for this dish and often veer toward the Rhone or similar. This time it was a Merlot from Chile and as long as the wine is decent you won’t spoil the dish; don’t throw in bad wine as you will notice this.

Wine Suggestion: A Northern Rhone Syrah by Jean-Michel Gerin brought by our guests was a very good match. This was followed by a Grapillon d’Or Gigondas, an equally good match.

Beef Bourguignon – serves 6

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 750g cubed braising or stewing steak
  • 3 tbsp seasoned flour
  • 9 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 3 garlic cloves, halved
  • 125g lardons/cubed pancetta
  • 75cl bottle red wine
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 250g button mushrooms

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/Fan 160C.

Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole with a lid. Toss the meat in the flour then cook in batches until well browned. Remove each batch with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add shallots, garlic and lardons/pancetta and cook for 5 minutes until golden brown. Return all the meat to the pot, pour in the wine and bring to the boil. Stir in the thyme, tomato purée and some seasoning.

Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 1 hour. Add the mushrooms, cover, and return to the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the meat is tender.

(Original recipe by Ainsley Harriott in BBC Good Food Magazine, November 2001.)

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Ultimate Bolognese

We don’t keep much food in the freezer – peas, broad beans and ice cubes mainly. But at this time of year we like to cook bigger quantities of bolognese, chilli & casseroles so there’s always something warming available for the end of the week, when ingredients are running low. This version by Barney Desmazery is not traditional but absolutely flavour-packed and we loved finishing the pasta in the sauce which really brings it all together.

Wine Suggestion: Bolognese and other tomato based ragú worked really well with Sangiovese. Whether you choose a favourite Brunello, like we did, a Chianti, or a non-Italian version the acidity and tannins help with the richness and flavours.

Pasta Bolognese – serves 8 

  • 400g beef mince
  • 400g Italian sausages, skinned and crumbled
  • 200g smoked pancetta
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • small bunch fresh basil, small leaves picked and reserved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • handful dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 tsp golden caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • ½  tsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 100ml whole milk
  • 4 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 200ml white wine
  • 100g Parmesan, grated, rind removed and reserved
  • pasta, to serve

Heat a splash of olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan and crumble in the mince and sausage meat. Cook the mince for a good 30 minutes – it will release a lot of liquid which will evaporate and eventually it will fry in its own fat. If the pan looks a bit dry, drizzle in more olive oil. Towards the end, keep stirring the mince until it starts to crisp and brown.

Heat the oven to 140C/120C/Gas 2.

While the mince is browning, heat another splash of oil in a casserole dish and fry the pancetta for about 5 minutes or until it starts to brown and release its fat, then add the vegetables and herbs and finely crumble over the dried porcini. Cook gently for 5 minutes until soft and starting to brown. Sprinkle over the sugar, then stir in the tomato purée and splash in the fish sauce and vinegar. Simmer down until thickened, then stir through the meat and pour in the milk and tomatoes. Rinse out the tomato tins with the wine and stir into the pan. Season, then nestle in the Parmesan rind. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook in the oven for 3 hours.

When cooked, tip as many portions of the Bolognese as you need into a sauté pan. Cook the pasta until very al dente, then add to the bolognese sauce with a bit of the water and finish cooking in the sauce for 2 minutes. Stir through the Parmesan and a drizzle more olive oil.

Serve the pasta bolognese in bowls with basil and Parmesan.

(Original recipe by Barney Desmazery in BBC Good Food Magazine, September 2017.)

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Italian seared beef

So this is a bit of a treat and yet has very few ingredients and takes very little time to prepare. Hail to that.

Wine Suggestion: fresher and bit more rustic than Bordeaux is Bergerac, into the Dordogne River to the east. The best vineyards are in the Pecharmant AC and have Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot as the dominant varieties. We found some unoaked wines on our last trip from Domaine des Costes, Cuvée Tradition which, while simple, had a joy and juiciness that perfectly complemented the beef, pesto and rocket.

Italian Seared Beef – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan until golden
  • 250g rump steak
  • 2 heaped teaspoons pesto
  • 40g rocket
  • 15g Parmesan cheese

Put a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Cut the fat of the steak, finely chop the fat and put into the hot pan to crisp up. Cut the sinew off the rump and season with salt and black pepper. Put the steak between two sheets of greaseproof paper and bash with a rolling pin until it is an even thickness of about 1 cm. Scoop out the crispy fat and set aside, then sear the steak in the hot pan for 1 minute per side or until golden but still pink in the middle (as per photo). Remove the steak to a board to rest.

Spread the pesto over a serving plate. Thinly slice the steak at an angle and scatter over the plate. Pile the rocket on top, then scatter over the pine nuts and crispy fat (you don’t have to eat the fat if you would rather not –  we’ll have it!). Mix the resting juices with a tbsp of good olive oil and drizzle over. Shave the Parmesan over to serve.

(Original recipe from 5 Ingredients by Jamie Oliver, Michael Joseph, 2017.)

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Chianti-baked Meatballs

These smell delicious even before they go into the oven. Serve with top-quality pasta like our favourite, Martelli from Panzano in Tuscany, or potatoes roasted with rosemary.

Wine Suggestion: naturally this goes with Chianti, but feel free to adventure a bit further if you like as a good Brunello with a bit of age will make this feel a bit special despite the humble ingredients. Don’t use your best wine in the sauce though; we used a nice, but inexpensive Bordeaux which had good fruit and tannin.

Chianti-baked Meatballs – serves 4

FOR THE MEATBALLS:

  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 onion, very finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 50g black olives, stoned and chopped
  • 50g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 25g Parmesan, finely grated
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 long red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped parsley

FOR THE SAUCE:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 250ml Chianti (or other red wine)
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • a large handful of basil, chopped

Heat the oven to 220C/Fan 200C/Gas 7.

Mix all the meatball ingredients together in a large bowl – the easiest way is to use clean hands. When everything is mixed together really well, wet your hands and roll into small or large meatballs (aim for 12 large meatballs or 20 small ones).

Gently toss the meatballs in 2tbsp of olive oil in an ovenproof shallow casserole or roasting tray. Try to find one that is just big enough to fit the meatballs but not so they are squashed together.

Bake the meatballs for 10 minutes, then pour over the wine and turn the meatballs over to make sure they are coated. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, sugar and basil, then cook for another 20-25 minutes or until bubbling and thickened.

Serve with pasta or roast potatoes with rosemary.

(Original recipe by Jo Pratt in BBC Olive Magazine, March 2007.)

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Mustardy Beef

Another successful dish from Jamie Oliver’s ‘5 Ingredients’. Such a clever book with lots of simple dishes and bags of flavour. We served with creamy chive mash and buttered cabbage.

Wine Suggestion: We quite like to have richer, Southern French reds with casseroles, sometimes from the Rhône but this time we opened a Mas Amiel Pur Schist from Rousillon; another find hiding in the corner of the cellar. Rich, warm and at the same time elegant and sophisticated.

Meltin’ Mustardy Beef – serves 6

  • 900g beef shin (get your butcher to remove the bone but take it with you for extra flavour), diced into 5 cm chunks
  • 500g carrots, cut into 5 cm chunks
  • 2 onions, peeled, quartered and broken into petals
  • 120ml Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 heaped tsp wholegrain mustard

Heat your oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3.

Put a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Toss the beef with lots of black pepper and a good pinch of salt, then dry fry in the hot pan with the bone for about 8 minutes or until nicely browned.

Heat a shallow casserole pan over a high heat. Add the carrots with a tbsp of olive oil and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the onions and continue to cook until starting to soften and colour a bit. Add the browned meat, then stir in the Worcestershire sauce and mustard plus 800ml of boiling water from the kettle.

Cover the casserole and cook in the oven for 4 hours or until super tender. Loosen with a splash of water if necessary. Season to taste and serve with mash and greens.

(Original recipe from ‘5 Ingredients’ by Jamie Oliver, Penguin, 2017.)

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Epic rib-eye steak

New Year’s eve is a night we treasure to eat nice food and open a good bottle of wine; just the two of us (the third still flakes out around 7pm). This year we are glad that Jamie Oliver is back on song with his new book “5 Ingredients”. This was delicious, luxurious and yes –  very few ingredients.

Wine suggestion: from our cellar came a bottle of the Chateau Rayas “Pignan” 2005 which while 12 years old was beautifully youthful, smooth, complex and deep. A 100% grenache from a very particular vineyard this is a remarkable wine that we’re glad to have shared together to begin 2018.

Epic Rib-Eye Steak – serves 4

  • 600g piece of rib-eye steak (ideally about 5 cm thick), fat removed
  • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves stripped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • 350g mixed mushrooms, tear up any larger ones into bite size chunks
  • 1 x 660g jar of white beans
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Place a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. Rub the steak all over with a little olive oil, a pinch of salt and some black pepper, then sear on all sides for 10 minutes in total. You’re looking for a nice dark brown on the outside and medium rare in the middle – of course keep cooking if you prefer it more cooked than this. When done, remove to a warm plate and cover with tin foil.

Turn the heat under the pan down to medium. Add the rosemary leaves and crisp up for 30 seconds, then add the garlic and mushrooms with a splash of oil if needed and cook for 8 minutes or until golden.

Pour in the beans and their juice, add the red wine vinegar and simmer for 5 minutes, then season to taste. Sit the steak on top and pour over any juices from the plate. Slice the steak at the table and serve with with a drizzle of your best olive oil.

(Original recipe from 5 Ingredients by Jamie Oliver, Michael Joseph, 2017.)

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Chilli with Amazing Smoked Paprika Butter

The base recipe for this chilli is nothing unusual but it becomes much more special with the addition of a delicious smoked paprika butter stirred through at the end. It’s definitely our chilli of the moment! Serve with your choice of the usual chilli accompaniments – baked potatoes/rice, grated cheese, avocado, sour cream, tortilla chips….

Wine Suggestion: choice one – a nice, clean lager like Peroni or the Harviestoun Schiehallion, or choice two – a juicy red wine like the Cline Lodi Zinfandel with brambly fruit and soft, spicy tannins.

Chilli minced beef with smoked paprika butter – serves 6

  • 2 tbsp olive oil or garlic oil (if you have it)
  • 2 onions, thickly sliced
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1kg beef mince
  • 200ml red wine
  • 2 x 400g tins of kidney beans
  • 1 x 400g tin of plum tomatoes
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped (or substitute 2 tsp chilli powder)
  • 1 tsp crushed cumin seeds
  • 500ml strong beef stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • large handful of chopped coriander, plus extra to serve
  • lime wedges, to serve

FOR THE SMOKED PAPRIKA BUTTER

  • 75g soft butter
  • 1½ tsp smoked paprika
  • finely grated zest of 1 lime and juice of ½ lime
  • ½ tsp of sea salt

Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the oil and cook the onions, celery and garlic over a low heat for about 10 minutes or until softened. Turn up the heat, stir in the mince and fry until browned, breaking it up as you go with a wooden spoon.

Add the red wine and scrape any crusty bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to the boil and allow the wine to reduce by half.

Stir in the beans, tomatoes, chilli, cumin, stock, bay leaves, thyme and rosemary. Season with a teaspoon of sea salt and some black pepper. Bring to a simmer, then cover with a lid and cook for at least an hour, stirring now and then. You can add a cup of water if it starts to become too thick. Likewise, if it’s not thick enough, you can simmer without the lid for the last 10 to 15 minutes.

Make the smoked paprika butter by beating the butter together with the smoked paprika, lime zest, lime juice and salt.

Remove the herb sprigs form the chilli then stir through the coriander and the flavoured butter, then allow to sit for 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning and serve with coriander and lime wedges over the top.

(Original recipe from Marcus at Home by Marcus Waring, HarperCollins, 2016.)

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Beef Bourguignon Pie whole

Beef Bourguignon Pie whole

One of Jules’ classic dishes that combines Beef Bourguignon with a mash potato top. Old-fashioned in many ways but a great crowd pleaser and you can prep it all in advance. Some veg on the side is all you need for a hearty dinner.

A red Burgundy is not necessary for cooking, rather look for a juicy and easy red. Make sure it is decent though as it will still contribute to the flavours and quality of the dish. Having trialled relatively expensive Burgundy (to really find out!) in dishes like this though, we think it makes the dish unnecessarily expensive without adding anything extra over a decent, juicy, but cheaper red.

Wine Suggestion: If tempted to drink a red Burgundy with this dish, and want to impress, pick a fulsome appellation from the Cote d’Or if you can. Even if you pick a Bourgogne rouge make sure it has class and character as very easy, commercial examples are just a bit bland for the dish. This time we chose a northern Rhône, the J-M Gerin Côte Rôtie Champin de Seigneur which rivals good Burgundy for price but also matches it for aromatic thrill and velvety, earthy core with the same medium weight and great freshness.

Beef Bourguignon Cottage Pie – serves 6

FOR THE BOURGUIGNON BASE:

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil/veg oil
  • 200g pack bacon lardons
  • 900g braising steak, cut into 3cm chunks
  • 225g button mushrooms
  • 225g button onions or small shallots, peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp demerara sugar
  • 600ml red wine
  • 400g tin beef consommé or 400ml of beef stock
  • 1 to 2 tbsp cornflour, loosened with 1-2 tbsp red wine or water

FOR THE MASH TOPPING:

  • 1.5 kg floury potatoes e.g. Maris Piper
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 100ml milk

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the bacon lardons over a high heat until well browned. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Season the beef, then fry in the bacon fat until coloured. Add all the remaining ingredients, except the cornflour and bacon, and bring to a simmer. Partly cover the pan with a lid and cook for 2-2½ hours or until the beef is tender.

When the beef is cooked, tip the contents of the pan into a colander set over another pan to catch the sauce. Tip the contents of the colander into a large pie or casserole dish along with the reserved bacon. Boil the sauce and season to taste. Thicken with the loosened cornflour until you have a sauce that coats the back of a spoon. Spoon enough of the sauce over the beef to barely cover and loosen it (don’t be tempted to add too much), then stir. You can freeze or refrigerate the sauce and offer it on the side when you serve the pie.

Boil the potatoes until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain and replace the lid, then give the pan a good shake to break them up a bit. Add the butter and milk gradually as you mash, then season well.

Spoon the potatoes over the meat and use a knife or spoon to mark a pattern over the top. You can cool the pie at this stage and freeze if you like before baking as below.

Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.

Bake the pie for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until golden. Increase the heat to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6 for the final 10 minutes to get it nicely browned on top.

(Original recipe by Gary Rhodes for BBC Good Food Magazine, November 2005.)

Beef Bourguignon Pie

Beef Bourguignon Pie

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Skirt steak salad w. tomatoes & chipotle

A warm main course salad for two with a very spicy dressing. Season the steak well before cooking and serve with some crusty bread.

Wine Suggestion: this dish has a bite with the chipotle so tread carefully and don’t pick a wine that is too dry (white) or tannic (red). A medium bodied, juicy red was our pick with the Giulio Straccali “Galileo” Vino Rosso d’Italia, a multi region blend of Sangiovese, Syrah and Primitivo. This is really clever by playing of the strengths of each grape and is really more than just the sum of its parts. Fresh, juicy, long and complex, especially considering its inexpensive price.

Warm skirt steak salad with tomatoes & chipotle dressing – serves 2 as a main course

  • 400g skirt steak
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 60ml beef stock/water
  • 120g tinned chipotle chillies in adobo sauce
  • 60ml lime juice
  • half a small frisée lettuce/other lettuce variety
  • 30g baby spinach leaves
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 radishes, thinly sliced
  • ¼ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • a small handful of coriander leaves
  • 30g pecorino cheese

Warm 1 tbsp of olive oil in a heavy frying man over a medium-high heat. Season the steak generously with salt and black pepper. Fry the steak in the oil, turning once, until both sides are well browned and it is cooked how you like it – we cooked ours for 3 minutes on each side. Remove the steak from the pan and set aside to rest.

Reduce the heat under the frying pan and sauté the garlic for a few minutes. Pour in the beef stock or water and use to deglaze the pan, scraping any sticky bits off the bottom with a wooden spoon. Turn the heat off completely and add the chipotle chillies, lime juice and enough olive oil to make a dressing (a few tablespoons). Season to taste.

Cut the steak across the grain into ½ cm thick strips.

Shred the lettuce leaves into bite-sized pieces and tip into a bowl with the spinach, tomatoes, radishes, onion, avocado & coriander. Add the steak and the chipotle dressing. Divide between 2 plates and grate some pecorino cheese over the top.

(Original recipe from Good Cooking by Neil Perry, Murdoch Books, 2016.)

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Makshi, stuffed peppers with beef & rice

This is delicious. You will need a very big pot and small peppers to fit them all in. Yet again Honey & Co have not let us down with this fab recipe.

Wine Suggestion: try not to drink too heavy a wine with this as it might fight with the spices and red pepper flavours. We found a northern Italian Pinot Nero from Alto Adige / Südtirol made by Cantina Colterenzio was a good match. It provided a delightful play of cherry fruit and earthiness while balancing the freshness with youthful acidity.

Makshi – stuffed peppers with beef & rice – serves 4

  • 8 small red peppers
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g beef mince
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 90g basmati rice
  • 2 tomatoes, diced (about 200g)
  • 1 small bunch of parsley, chop the leaves and reserve the stalks

FOR THE COOKING LIQUOR:

  • 70g tomato purée
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled

Cut around the top of each pepper, about 1 cam below the stalk, and take the top section off but don’t throw it away. Remove the seeds and white membrane from the inside of the peppers.

Arrange the peppers upright in a pan that can hold them snugly so they don’t topple over. Push the lemon and tomato wedges in around them to hold them in place. Also add the reserved parsley stalks.

Fry the onion and garlic in the oil over a medium heat until softened, then add the beef mince, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it has lost any pinkness and has gone crumbly. Add the salt and spices and mix well, then tip in the rice and fry for a minute. Add the diced tomato & chopped parsley. Take off the heat and mix well. Spoon this mixture into the peppers but don’t press it down too much as the rice will expand as it cooks.

Put the cooking liquor ingredients into a saucepan with 1 litre of water and bring to the boil. Pour the hot liquid over the pepper filled peppers, making sure some liquid gets into each one (we used a plastic funnel to do this). Put the pot containing the peppers over a high heat and bring to the boil, then immediately reduce the heat and cook for 30 minutes at a gentle simmer.

Check how much liquid is left in the pan (it should be about three-quarters full – if not top it up with more water). Baste the peppers with the cooking liquid and put the lid back on. Simmer for a further 20 minutes, then serve or keep for the following day (when they will taste even better). They reheat well in the microwave.

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Picadillo

This is not dissimilar to a chilli con carne but it tastes really fresh and summery. We loved the addition of almonds and green olives.

Wine Suggestion: we echoed the summery freshness with the Flying Solo Rosé from Domaine Gayda in the Languedoc which made everything feel light and easy as we ate. If you feel like something more robust look to a good Grenache / Garnacha which we find work with the peppers and olives well.

Picadilo – serves 6

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 750g minced beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 red chillies, chopped
  • ½ tbsp ground cumin
  • a handful of plump raisins
  • 400g tin of cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 200ml stock (or water)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 50g green olives, chopped
  • a handful of coriander, chopped
  • a handful of toasted almonds
  • rice, avocado, sour cream & grated cheese to serve

Heat the oil in a casserole and cook the beef over a high heat until well-browned. This will work better if you do it in batches, then remove to a bowl.

Add the onion and chopped peppers to the pan and cook until soft and golden. Add the garlic, chillies and ground cumin, then cook for another minute before stirring in the raisins, tomatoes, tomato purée, sugar and stock/water. Cook, uncovered for 40 minutes, or until you have a thick sauce, stirring occasionally.

Add the lime juice, green olives and some seasoning. Lastly stir in the coriander and sprinkle with the toasted almonds.

Serve with steamed rice, avocado, sour cream & grated cheese.

(Original recipe from Food from Plenty by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2010.)

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