#207 Sussex Stewed Steak

Stewed steak is one of the things that remind me of being a kid back home in Pudsey, Leeds. My Mum used to do stewed steak with dumplings sometimes and it was delicious. It’s odd, however, that I’ve never had it anywhere other then my Mum’s; nobody else seems to eat it. I don’t what it has to do with Sussex either. This recipe is pretty much exactly what my Mum did, except for two main differences: this uses one big piece of steak and has additional flavourings. This is a very easy recipe and perfect for these times of filthy weather that seems to keep your socks permanently soggy and your mind on sunnier times. Give it a go.

Start off with a nice two to two-and-a-half pound slice of either top rump or chuck steak. Make sure it is well trimmed. Season both sides well with salt and pepper and coat with flour. Place it a well fitting ovenproof dish, and cover with sliced onion; use a large one. Now add six tablespoons each of stout and port and two tablespoons of either mushroom ketchup or wine vinegar. Cover tightly with foil and place in an oven preheated to 140⁰C for three hours. That’s it! Serve with mashed potato and field mushrooms, says Griggers.

#207 Sussex Stewed Steak. This took me right back to my childhood. The delicious thin gravy with a hint of rich booze and wonderfully tender beef cooked slowly – it’s what rainy November evenings were made for. 8.5/10.

#204 Minced Veal and Eggs

Here is another recipe from Alexis Soyer – the first celebrity chef and all-round (though slightly pompous) good guy. I have mentioned him before in previous posts. I thought I would try this recipe as a test for the veal I bought from Winter Tarn. This seemed like a good mid-week meal as it is quick to cook that seemed nice and satisfying; just what one needs of a Wednesday in rainy Manchester.

Begin by chopping a small onion and a clove of garlic and softening them in a generous ounce of butter. Once soft, turn up the heat to brown them slightly and then add 8 ounces of minced veal. Fry until it has browned slightly. Now add some seasonings, herbs and spices: a rounded teaspoon of salt, half a teaspoon of black pepper, a pinch each of cinnamon and nutmeg and a teaspoon of thyme leaves. Next stir through a heaped teaspoon of flour and when that has browned slightly pour in a quarter of a pint of milk (full fat if you can!). Simmer very gently for fifteen to twenty minutes until the mince has become soft and unctuous in its now creamy sauce. Whilst that is happening poach an egg and fry a slice of bread per person. Taste the veal and add more seasonings and ‘sharpen it’ with some lemon juice or white wine vinegar.

Place a slice of fried bread on each plate, then a helping of the veal and finally a poached egg on top.

#204 Minced Veal and Eggs. What seems like a bizarre recipe turned out to be absolutely delicious, the delicate milky veal melds perfectly with the milk in the sauce and the fried bread and poached eggs added to the comfort food kick that I really required. Great stuff. Give it a go; quick and easy. 8/10.

#181 Yorkshire Pudding

If one is having roast beef (or roast anything, for that matter) one simple has to have Yorkshire pudding. I have been using my own Yorkshire pudding recipe for years (it can be found on a previous entry) and I was not sure about someone else’s, even Griggers’.

In English Food, Griggers says to pour the batter, once made, into a roasting tray below the meat (see last entry). However, you can pour the batter into small trays. In Yorkshire, we make giant ones in sandwich tins and put our meat, veg and gravy inside. Other alternatives are to have them as a starter with a little gravy or with some sugar, or for afters with golden syrup or sweetened condensed milk pour over. The idea of the former being that you can fill your guests up with Yorkshire pudding, so they eat less meat later! That’s Yorkshire folk. It is, of course, also the batter required to make toad-in-the-hole (also on the blog!).

The first Yorkshire pudding recipe appears in 1737 in a book called The Whole Duty of Women and is pretty much unchanged, though it does state that it should be eaten with roast mutton. Now there’s a bombshell!

Before I give the recipe, I have two important instructions that Griggers doesn’t explicitly give: first, make your batter as early as possible, the night before if you can remember to; second, make sure your oven is very hot and that the fat used in the tray is very hot too. These two simple rules will help your Yorkshires to rise and rise.

Start by making pouring half a pint each of milk and water into a jug. To make the batter, mix 8 ounces of flour and a pinch of salt in bowl. Make a well in the centre and crack three eggs inside plus some half-milk half-water mix. Mix everything together to make a thick paste. Add most of the water-milk until you have a creamy and pourable mixture (I used the whole lot). Leave the batter to settle. Preheat the oven to 200°C and place some fat (oil or dripping) in your tin and let it get good and hot. Pour the batter into the tin and give it 40 minutes to rise.

#181 Yorkshire Pudding. If you are doing it the traditional way in a single roasting tin, Griggers doesn’t say what size you should use – it turns out you should use a big one! Mine was too small so the batter was rather deep and so it didn’t crisp up properly. Some people like it like that, but I don’t. That said it did taste good from the beef fat dripping on top of it throughout cooking. Hmmmm. Tricky to mark. 3/10 I think, but that’s because they weren’t in the correct sized tray. I’m pretty sure they would score higher (though not as high as my own ones!).

#180 Roast Beef

It was Charlotte’s birthday last Sunday, so she got to choose a birthday meal. She chose well – in fact she chose the most British meal you could possibly imagine – Roast Beef and Yorkshire pudding. We British love our roast beef, and were very good at cooking it; the French called us rosbif, not to be rude, but out of respect, as we had the roasting of meat down to a fine art. In fact French chefs would come to Britain to learn the art of roasting on the spit. These days of course, we used our conventional oven to roast our meat, so technically we are making baked beef, not roast beef.

Roasting beef (or any other meat, in fact) is not hard as long as three simple rules are followed: buy good quality beef that has been hung for at least 21 days, season it well (especially if you are crispy fat fan), and roast it from room temperature – don’t go straight from fridge to oven. I bought a rib of beef from my new favourite butcher – Axon’s of Didsbury. A six pound monster that came to £30 – you may think this is expensive, but you get what you pay for and is enough to provide for six or seven people. Also, I have been making good meals from the leftovers: beef and oyster mushrooms in oyster sauce (I picked the mushrooms myself whilst walking in the woods!) and an oriental beef and noodle soup. So in the end, it actually pays to spend a bit more, as you get more out of it. Lecture over.

For roast beef, Griggers suggests either rib or sirloin on the bone with undercut. You need at least 5 pounds in weight. The first thing to do is to season you meat well with salt and pepper the night before. Keep in the fridge overnight by all means, but make sure you remove it from the fridge in plenty of time for it to get to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Weight the meat and calculate the cooking time: 15 minutes per pound for rare, add an extra 20 minutes at the end for medium-well done. The joint needs to be able to sit on a rack inside the roasting tray in the oven, but first place the tray on its own with enough beef dripping to cover the bottom for five minutes before adding the joint and rack. If you are making Yorkshire puddings, you could make them in the traditional way of pouring the mixture into the roasting tin, or pour batter into trays if you prefer. Either way put them in 40 minutes before the end of cooking. When the time is up, remove the beef (keep the Yorkshires in, if need be) and allow it to rest for at least 20 minutes before serving and slicing. Place on a serving dish surrounded by cut-up pieces of Yorkshire pudding.

Whilst the beef is cooking, make the gravy by frying a sliced onion in some beef dripping with a teaspoon of sugar until it turns a deep brown. Add half a pint of beef stock and simmer for at least 20 minutes. Season and serve, or if you like a smooth sauce, strain it. Serve with roast parsnips, roast potatoes and horseradish sauce, plus some seasonal green veg.

#180 Roast Beef. I cooked my beef rare because it shows off the quality and taste of good meat, and very good it was too. The outside fat was crispy, and the inside was pink, juicy and tender – proper melt-in-the-mouth stuff. I give it 8.5/10 – as far as beef goes it’s just excellent, but roast lamb in the winner when it comes to red meat.

#84 Shepherd’s Pie

The second of the classics I’m trying to work through. Spoilt for choice for the next one. Thinking maybe a Lancashire Hotpot. Any suggestions, let me know. Anyways, my old mate Paddy was staying over, and he asked for a Shepherd’s Pie, and a Shepherd’s Pie, he got. According to Grigson, you can use either lamb or beef – I always thought that a Shepherd’s Pie contained lamb and a Cottage Pie had beef. We went for beef on Paddy’s request, as it’s the least fatty. One ingredient I found though – white wine. Never heard of that in a Shepherd’s pie, and I must admit I had reservations.

Chop a large onion and three cloves of garlic and stew them until soft in 3 tablespoons of oil. Raise the heat under the hob and add a pound of minced beef (or lamb), stir until browned. Next add a tablespoon of tomato puree, a ¼ of a pint of white wine, and ¼ of a pint of beef stock, keeping a few tablespoons in reserve. Slake 3 heaped teaspoons of cornflour in the reserved stock and add this to the beef. Season well with salt, and very well with pepper. I don’t understand it when people say that they don’t add salt when they’re cooking; it just all tastes so bland. Plus I don’t add anywhere near as must as the pre-made supermarket meals. Rant over. Simmer this for about 10 minutes and spoon off any surplus fat. Whilst simmering, boil 2 to 2 ½ pounds of potatoes (Grigson says boil them in their skins, but I skim-read the recipe and didn’t spot that sentence and peeled mine). Mash the spuds with 3 ounces of butter and up to ½ pint of milk (depending upon how sloppy you like it). Season the potato well too, readers. Pour the meat into a casserole dish and pile on the potatoes. Run a fork through the top so as to add texture to the spuds and so they crisp up nicely. Sprinkle over an ounce of grated Cheddar and a tablespoon of grated Parmesan. Bake for 10 minutes at 200ºC, and then turn the oven down to 180ºC and bake for a further 45 minutes.


#84 Shepherd’s Pie 8.5/10. The secret ingredient of a Shepherd’s Pie, it seems, is white wine. It enriches the whole thing without making it too rich, as red wine would do. It’s a bit frivolous, I know, but you could swap the wine for more stock if you liked.

#51, Part II

The Grigson recommended getting another meal out of the shin of beef stew by simmering the stew away until nice and thick and stirring through some chopped parsley, so that’s what I did! Well I have to re-think my previous mark of 8/10, because this was absolutely gorgeous. It was a thick super beefy sauce with a good hit of red wine behind it, and the beef was so unbelievably tender I didn’t even have to chew. I think that this is one of the best meals you could make yourself. All it requires is time. I’m not sure if it’s nicer than the game pie I made recently which I gave full marks…oh bugger it:

#51 (part II) Shin of beef stew – 10/10 Completely brilliant. Go out and make it right now!

#51 Shin of Beef Stew

I have heard people talk of the shin cut of beef, and knew it is supposed to be very tasty but very tough – the legs being a well used part of a cow and all. This means long, slow cooking, and after the tough-as-old-boots braised brisket I’d done a while ago, I thought I’d get this recipe wrong too…but how wrong I was! I tell you what I did first…

I trimmed the fat and the very sinewy parts of the meat before cutting them into big chunks and tossing them in three tablespoons of seasoned flour, then I browned them in dripping in a stockpot. You can have your gas turned up to the max here -don’t be shy! When browned, I added enough beef stock to cover the pieces of meat and added one sliced onion and two good sized sliced carrots. For extra flavour, I also added a bouquet garnei of parsley, thyme and bay leaves, a glass of red wine and 3 cloves of garlic (left whole). All this was simmered for two hours and allowed to cool so that the fat could be skimmed off. That was it! Serve with some more veg – I did potatoes and turnips.

#51 Shin of beef stew: 8/10. Simple, cheap and very tasty. I know the red wine is extravagant, but this would still be lovely without. The meat was wonderfully tender and the not at all gristly (I only got one chewy bit!). Because I don’t eat meat that often, it’s such a treat to get some good quality properly treated meat like this. That butcher in Levenshulme is a keeper!

There is plenty left over, and today I am about to eat the rest! The original recipe doesn’t mention doing anything else to it, but Jane mentions that it is best eaten the day after, and also it can be reduced down to a think unctuous gravy. It is bubbling as I type! Reducing the stock to make it a sauce is definitely the right way to go. See this future post to see how it turned out….

#11 Braised Beef with Carrots

Second course. This one couldn’t be simpler either – all you need is time…and thyme too.

I got a piece of brisket from Savin Hill Farm (http://www.savin-hill.co.uk/), who have a stall from the farmers’ market in Manchester. Brown it in lard and put it into a flameproof casserole. Add loads of sliced carrots, and inch or two’s depth of chicken stock and a big sprig of thyme. Cook on a very low heat, topping-up the stock and adding more carrots for about 2 hours. I served it, as the Grigson recommends, with boiled potatoes. I have to say, I’m going to have to give this one mixed reviews. The carrots cooked with the beef and in the thymey stock were beautifully tender. The beef itself was extremely tasty; really….er….beefy! When I bought it, it was a deep red colour with a little bit of marbling. I don’t think I’ve actually cooked brisket before, and tasty though it was, some of it was pretty tough. The Grigson did say you could use the more expensive cut, silverside. Perhaps I should’ve. I’m sure it wasn’t down to Savin Hill’s produce. FYI: rolled brisket is the strip of muscle from the breast of the cow rolled up. It is one of the 8 primal cuts of meat. I found out that apparently you’ve to cook it fat facing upwards to make it lovely and tender. Oh well – next time it’ll be better!

Simon says:
A main course of beef with carrots was greedily consumed. The carrots were outstanding, cooked in the meat stock and packed full of thyme flavour. The beef was tasty but rather tough in parts: questions were raised over Grigson’s suggested cut for the dish. Served with good peas and spuds. 6/10

I say:
#11 Braised Beef with Carrots: 6/10. I agree with Mr. Simon on this one. Have a feeling it may be my naive beef cookery!