Rhone Bargeman’s Beef

I came across this recipe in Elizabeth David’s entertaining book, An Omelette and a Glass of Wine, where she calls it Grillade des Mariniers du Rhône, and just had to try it. Quite like the Chou Farci recipe, it takes extremely simple ingredients and prepares them in an idiot-proof manner to produce a most tasty dish. It works really well with lean meat, such as round steak and the often disappointing striploin steaks found in the supermarkets these days. The only change I made to the recipe was to include a pinch of asafoetida to reduce the possible ‘windy’ effects of so much onion.

The preparation of this dish is simple and all you need is a few hours in a low oven to produce a delicious meal.

Summary

Makes: 4 generous portions
Preparation: 15 mins + 10 mins
Cooking: 2 hours + 1 hour

Ingredients

.
.
1kg
500g
25g
1 h.tsp
.
.
.
1 pinch
.
.
.
3 tbsp
1 tbsp
3 or 4
1 clove
2 tbsp
First stage
.
Lean beef steak 

Onions (fairly finely sliced)
Butter
Flour
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Asafoetida (optional)
.
Dressing
.
Good olive oil
Wine vinegar
Anchovy fillets
Garlic (crushed)
Chopped parsley
Salt
Fresh black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 140°C.

Trim any fat or grizzle from the steaks and cut each on the bias into 3 or 4 smaller steaks. Flatten each somewhat with a meat mallet or rolling pin.

Take a rectangular ovenproof dish, a little smaller than an A4 sheet of paper and about 50mm deep. We are going to fill this with alternating layers of onion and meat. With this size of dish and amount of ingredients, it should be possible to get 4 layers of onions and 3 of meat.

Start with a layer of onions. Sprinkle very judiciously with asafoetida. Next place a layer of meat and season with salt and pepper. Repeat, until you have 3 layers of meat and finish with a layer of onions.

Next work the butter and flour together and arrange in small dots over the top layer of onions. Cover with buttered greaseproof paper, making sure it fits snugly, then put the lid on the dish or close with foil. Transfer to the preheated oven and leave for 2 hours.

Make use of the 2 hours as you see fit … read the paper, have a glass of wine …

Then make the dressing by just mixing the ingredients. Mash the anchovy fillets with a fork to get them to break up. Lift the lid and paper from the dish, sprinkle the dressing evenly over the onions and meat, re-cover and return to the oven for another hour.

The dish is now ready to serve, alongside some boiled potatoes or whatever else takes your fancy!

Beef Tagine with Prunes

Beef Tagine

Tagines are one of Morocco’s most famous dishes, and this is maybe the most famous tagine of them all. We tend to think of them in those lovely pots with the conical lids. If you believe the blurb, that’s supposed to help the condensation drip back from the sides and not straight back into the pot. However, I’ve read that the Moroccans cook tagines in more normal pots and transfer to the elaborate pots for serving.

Lovely rich flavours and texture combine to give a memorable meal, particularly suited to the colder months. In Ireland, that means we can eat it all year around! It’s a real cinch to make: the very basic preparation is followed by a couple of hours simmering gently on the stove top or in a low oven.

Summary

Makes: 6 portions
Preparation: 20 mins
Cooking: 2 hours

Ingredients

1kg
40g
3tbsp
1tbsp
3tbsp
2tsp
1tsp
1tsp
½tsp
1tsp
500g
2tbsp
.
.
.
1
Stewing beef cut into good-size chunks
Butter (pus good splash of olive oil)
Coriander leaves (roughly chopped)
Mint leaves (roughly chopped)
Minced onion
Ground cinnamon
Ground ginger
Ground coriander
Black pepper
Saffron strands (infused for 20mins in a little hot water)
Ready to eat stoned prunes
Clear runny honey
Salt and black pepper
Toasted almonds and chopped coriander to garnish
.
Large flameproof casserole dish with lid

Method

Trim any excess fat from the meat. You can use a cheese grater for the onions, or just whizz them. You’ll probably need two medium onions to get the amound needed. Place the casserole pot on a medium-high heat. Add the butter and a splash of oil to stop the butter burning. When the butter is foaming, add the black pepper, cinnamon, ginger and coriander and stir around a bit. Add the onion, coriander and mint leaves and stir well. Leave for 30 seconds or so. Add the meat and stir to make sure it is well-coated with the onions and spices. Add enough cold water to just cover the meat. Stir in the saffron and the infusion liquid. Next, add about two-thirds of the prunes. Season with a little salt. You many need some more water, the ingredients should just be covered. Bring the pot to the boil and then reduce to a really low simmer and place the lid on the pot.

After about one and half hours the meat should be pretty tender and the prunes almost dissolved, which will thicken the dish. You can stir gently to encourage the prunes to break up but be careful that you don’t disturb the meat. At this stage add the honey and the remaining prunes. Season with salt and pepper. You might need more than you think, in order to balance the honey. Replace the lid and leave for another half an hour or so.

When the dish is ready, transfer to a large warmed serving bowl and garnish with toasted almond flakes and some chopped coriander. Enjoy with some cous cous, good white bread or plain boiled potatoes.

Coriander Pork

Coriander Pork

I just love the earthy flavour of coriander seeds. Apparently coriander leaves are the world’s must used herb. This recipe combines both in a Stroganoff-type dish. For any North Americans, coriander goes by the name of cilantro.

This dish is really easy to make and with pork filet being such good value, it is not expensive either, especially compared to Beef Stroganoff with its beef filet. Nevertheless, it has an at-least equally sophisticated taste and, with the cream, is rich and filling. If only all such nice dishes were so easy to make.

Summary

Makes: 4 portions
Preparation: 15mins
Cooking: 15mins

Ingredients

1
250ml
1 tbsp
1sm.bunch
Pork filet (about 700g)
Cream
Coriander seeds
Coriander leaves (roughly chopped)
Salt
Pepper
Butter (plus splash of oil) 

Large frying pan

Method

Put the coriander seeds into a dry pan over a low heat. Slice the pork filet into slices about as thick as a pencil, then season with salt and pepper. When the coriander starts to give off a little aroma, remove from heat to a mortar. Grind with a pestle until all the seeds have been ground but a little texture is still left. You can use coriander powder if you want but you will lose some flavour, aroma and texture.

Place the pan over a medium high heat. When hot, add a good knob of butter and a little oil to stop burning. Add the pork in one layer. Wait until starting to brown, then turn over. Repeat until all meat is sealed. Keep the meat in a warmed dish.

Wipe out the pan and return to the heat. Add another knob of butter. When this starts to foam, add the cream. Increase the heat until the cream starts to bubble. Reduce the heat a little and keep stirring. Do this until a lot of the water from the cream has evaporated. You can recognise this by the cream becoming much thicker and more yellow in colour. Don’t go as far as letting the cream separate. Add the ground coriander and stir in. Return the pork and any juices to the pan and warm through. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

The Saga of the Christmas Turkey

Christmas Dinner

This year Anna’s farmer brother, John, very kindly offered us one of his hand-reared turkies for the Christmas dinner. Being forewarned that they were on the large side got us thinking about what to do with the bird. We picked up one of the smaller ones, as seen in the picture, but it still weighed in at around 10kg, and came with all the giblets.

We decided there and then to remove the crown and save the legs and wings for future dinners. After dissection, the crown still looked pretty big, so we weighed it and found it to be 4kg: obviously too big for the two of us, so we split it in two. I made about 3.5 litres of very nice turkey stock out of the carcass, of which I froze about 2 litres for future use in soups and the like.

So, read on to see what we did with this magnificent specimen!

Christmas Dinner

Since we were only cooking the crown, we were naturally worried about it drying out. We decided to give it a two-stage preparation, suggested by Domini Kemp in the Irish Times. On the evening before, we poached it in a cider, water and orange juice liquor, suitably enhanced with salt, sugar, cinnamon and orange zest. After simmering for about a half an hour, we turned off the heat and left whole thing to cool with the lid on until the dinner time the next day. We then smothered it with butter and roasted it on a bed of coarsely chopped root vegetables, along with a lemon and a splash of white wine, for about 45 minutes. The turkey stayed lovely and moist. We accompanied it with potatoes roasted in goose fat, peppered sprouts and buttered carrots, as well as a nice gravy made with some of the stock. Very tasty. Pacing ourselves, we made sure we left some room for a bit of cheese and Christmas pudding!

Leftovers

One of the fun bits about the Christmas Turkey is finding ways of using up the rest of the bird. This is what we did this year.

Turkey Soup

We actually had our first left-over on Christmas Eve. Using meat pulled off the carcass and the neck after making the stock, along with some slices from the heart and gizzard and carrots from the stock, we put together a delicious soup.

Turkey Pizza

Covered a base with a little tomata pizza sauce, then sprinkled on some turkey, brie cheese and cranberry sauce. Cooked for 10 minutes in a very hot oven. Really good. Have to confess to buying a prepared base, but there are good bases for sale: ours was from Pizza del Piero in Rathmines, Dublin.

Turkey Quesadilla

Basically the same as the pizza without the tomato sauce, but the filling is sandwiched between two flour tortillas and fried on both sides with a good knob of butter.

Turkey Pie

Cut chunks off the crown. Unbelievably not quite gone yet. Made a nice velouté, enriched with some cream, mustard and a little grated gruyere. Added the turkey and some baby onions, which had previously been peeled and fried until golden. Topped with a puff pastry lid and cooked in a very hot oven until the pastry was golden. Delicious

Paella

On New Years Day, we cut the last few chunks from the crown and used in place of chicken/pork in a delicious paella dish, which I’ll post soon. Due to the limited supplies in the shops I had to replace the spinach with pak choi from the local Asian shop. Tasted a bit different but still very good.

Beef and Guinness Stew

Beef and Guinness Stew

Classic Irish dish for those winter evenings. Sort of an Irish version of the French daube, with our national tipple replacing the red wine. There’s nothing at all complicated about this stew and it tastes so good. I urge you to give it a try. There’s a slight twist in this recipe, which I based on one in Darina Allen’s Simply Delicious 2 book. A spoon of mustard and a small strip of orange peel add complexity and aroma to the dish. You don’t have to use Guinness: any stout will do. The only change you need to make is to adjust the amount of sugar: Murphy is a little sweeter and will need less. In fact, Guiness is probably the most bitter of the common stouts, so the amount of sugar in the recipe is an upper limit. I suggest using a heavy flameproof casserole such as Le Creuset and finishing the stew in a low oven, but if you don’t have one, you can use a frying pan and a simple ovenproof dish. Failing this you can make the whole dish on top of the stove in a big pot, finishing over a very low heat. If possible, don’t use a teflon pan for sealing the meat, as the little bits that stick to the bottom of the pan add great depth to the overall flavour. This dish can be reheated the next day: in fact, many would say the flavour improves overnight.

Summary

Makes: 4 very good portions
Preparation: 30mins
Cooking: 2 hours

Ingredients

1kg
~750ml
3
4
2 r. tbsp
2 tsp
2 r. tsp
Stewing beef (not absolutely lean!)
Guinness or other stout
Onions
Medium carrots
Tomato paste
Mustard powder (or 2 tsp (rounded) made-up mustard)
Sugar
Salt
Pepper
Small strip orange peel (max 1cm long if waxed)
Bouquet garni (bay, thyme, parsley stalks)
Olive oil (even better ghee or clarified butter)
Flour
Parsley 

25cm flameproof casserole or similar

Note

Ideally you should use peel from an unwaxed orange. In such cases you can use a good amount: 2 or 3cm is no problem. However, if you can only get waxed oranges, then you need much less, at most 1cm. Even then, scrub the surface of the orange under boiling water first. Otherwise the flavour will totally dominate the dish.

Method

Cut the meat into nice-sized chunks (about 2cm), trimming any obvious fat. Slice the onions thinly. Season the meat with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour, shaking off any excess.

Put the casserole over a medium to high heat. Add oil to cover the bottom. When hot, add enough meat to form one layer. Don’t overcrowd the pot: it’s better to do several batches. Leave the meat to brown on all sides. Try to resist the temptation to continually push to meat around: we want it to brown nicely. Transfer to a dish and repeat until all the meat is sealed. You should have some nice golden brown bits of meat and flour stuck to the bottom by now. That’s OK as it will add flavour later. Next, drop the heat to low and add the onions and a little more oil. Fry until they start to colour, stirring regularly to make sure they don’t burn.

When the onions are ready, bring up the heat and add enough of the Guinness to deglaze the pot, making sure you free all the caramelised bits. Add about 750ml of the Guinness and let it bubble uncovered for a minute or two to burn off the alcohol. Then stir in the tomato paste, mustard and sugar. Return the meat and any juices to the pot. Tuck in the bouquet garni and the orange peel. You may need to add a litte more Guinness to just cover the meat.  Stir everything together and adjust the seasoning. When the pot comes back to the boil, cover and place in a prewarmed oven set to 150°C.

After about 1 hour, slice the peeled carrots to around 5mm and stir into the pot. Another hour or so later, the meat should be beautifully tender, the carrots cooked and the stew lovely and thick. Remove the bouquet garni and the orange peel. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl and sprinke with some chopped parsely. Serve accompanied by some plain boiled potatoes or good bread. Enjoy!

Chou Farci (sort of!)

Chou Farci

This dish, made with the humblest of ingredients, is quite simply fantastic. Synergy is sometimes considered to be the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. If so, this dish has it in spades. It contains nothing more than green cabbage, plain sausage meat, a little butter and the smallest amounts of salt and pepper, but is one of the tastiest things you’ll ever encounter. The Swedes have something similar with Kålpudding, but it is an altogether coarser affair. I found this recipe in Tamasin Day Lewis’ Good Tempered Food, where she reports to have found it in a Jane Grigson book. We cook it on a regular basis and each time immediately look forward to the next time.

The name I have given here may be a little misleading as it implies stuffed cabbage. Although you could make it this way, this recipe is more like a lasagna. It is best to use lightly seasoned sausage meat (with at least 70% meat content) as the flavour is concentrated during the cooking and more heavily spiced mixes will completely dominate the dish.

Summary

Makes: 4 portions
Preparation: 20mins
Cooking: 2 hours

Ingredients

1 Head
400g
25g
Green cabbage (eg savoy)
Good sausage meat
Butter
Salt
Pepper

Method

Peel the leaves from the cabbage as far as you can. You may need to discard the outer leaves as they can be tough. Cut out the central stalk. Towards the core, it can be a bit fiddly, so just do the best you can. Wash the leaves thoroughly. Pour about 5cm of water into a large pot, salt lightly and bring to the boil. Add the cabbage, put the lid on and cook for 3 minutes. Drain, refresh and squeeze out any excess water.

If starting with sausages, slit the skins and press out the meat. Butter a casserole dish. We are now ready to assemble the dish. There will be 3 sausage meat layers and 4 cabbage layers. Try to keep the bigger, darker leaves for the top layer. Place some of the smaller leaves on the bottom to form a cushion to lift the meat off the bottom of the dish. Take one third of the sausage meat and spread it evenly over the cabbage. If you want, you can now very sparingly sprinkle a little salt and pepper. However, my advice would be to cook the dish once without doing this so you can get an idea of the flavour from your sausage meat. If necessary, next time you can season judiciously. Put a new layer of cabbage and then sausage meat until the sausage meat is used up. Finish with a layer of cabbage using the big, dark leaves. Dot some butter evenly around the top, place some greaseproof paper right on top to seal in the steam and put on a good fiiting lid. Place in an oven preheated to 150ºC and wait for 2 hours. The time isn’t too critical: I’ve eaten it plenty of times after 1½ hours.

Serve with cranberry sauce and plain boiled potatoes.

Tangia

This Moroccan recipe for cooking lamb shank is quite delicious and practically cooks itself. According to Sam Clark in Casa Moro, this Marrakech speciality is very popular during Ramadan, when it cooks slowly in the hot ashes around the hamman or steam bath, waiting paitently to be devoured once the sun goes down! In addition to tasting great, lamb shanks are also really cheap. Like a lot of the cheaper cuts, they are particularly suited to slow cooking as in this dish, which cooks over six hours.

Note: This also works well with shoulder of lamb cut into a few smaller pieces.

Summary

Makes: 4 portions
Preparation: 30mins
Cooking: 6 hours

Ingredients

4
2
2
1 tbsp
1-2 bulbs
3 tbsp
100g
Lamb shanks on the bone
Preserved lemons
Onions
Cumin seeds
Garlic
Coriander (chopped)
Butter (soft)
A little water
Salt
Pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Place the cumin in a dry pan and heat gently until it releases it aroma, then grind. Remove the flesh from the preserved lemons, chop roughly and wash off excess salt. Peel the onions and chop roughly. Take the skins off the garlic cloves and chop each into two or three pieces. Place the onions, garlic, cumin, coriander and preserved lemon into a food processor and whizz. Add the butter and some salt and pepper. Add just enough of the water to make the mixture into a thick paste.

Place the lamb shanks into a large ovenproof dish or pot. Cover well with the paste. Cut some baking paper to a size a little bigger than the pot. Place this on the lamb and press down firmly to seal the space so that no steam can escape. Seal the pot with foil and if you have a lid place this on top. The whole idea is that the container is well sealed so that the meat can cook in the steam and its own juices.

Place into the oven and after 5 minutes reduce the temperature to 140ºC. Now just wait 5 to 6 hours and let the oven do the work. At this stage the meat will be falling off the bone.

Enjoy with some flat bread or couscous and some Moroccan Carrot Salad

Chicken Savoyarde

Chicken Savoyarde

Anna’s best friend calls this ‘Gavin’s Chicken’, but unfortunately I can take no credit whatsoever for this fantastic dish, which I found in Tamasin Day Lewis’ great book Good Tempered Food. She herself gives the credit to others. Who cares, for it is delicious and rich, and its two-stage preparation makes it an ideal dish for dinner parties. I was never quite sure where the name came from, but while cooking it recently, it did occur to me that the sauce bears a certain resemblance to the cheese fondues from the Savoy regions of France, Switzerland and Italy. The dish also includes copious quantities of that other great chicken enhancer: tarragon. Although there is a little preparation involved, it’s all pretty straightforward and can be split over two days and all-in-all makes for a stress-free special meal.

Use a free-range or organic chicken if you can: you’ll notice the difference.

Summary

Makes: 6 generous portions
Preparation: 20 mins (x3)
Cooking: 1¾ hrs + 25 mins (x2)

Ingredients

Chicken 

1
2
2
3 sticks
2
2
2
2 sprigs
6

Sauce

50g
50g
400ml
300ml
250ml
100g
1 tbsp
50g

 

Topping

50g
25g

 

Chicken (about 2kg)
Onions
Carrots
Celery
Leeks
Cloves
Bay leaves
Thyme
Peppercorns
Salt
Butter
Flour
Poaching stock
Dry white wine
Double cream
Gruyère cheese (grated)
Dijon mustard
Tarragon leaves (chopped)
Salt
Pepper

 

Breadcrumbs
Parmesan (finely grated)
Olive oil

Method

First we’ll poach the chicken. Place the chicken breast up in a large pot for which you have a lid. Chop the carrots and celery very roughly. Half the onions lengthwise and peel. Stick one of the onion pieces with the cloves. Top and tail the leek, chop into large pieces and wash thoroughly to remove any grit. Arrange the vegetables, with the bay leaves, thyme and peppercorns around the chicken. Add some salt but don’t overdo it: you can always add a little later but you can’t get it out again! Fill with cold water until the chicken is just covered. Put on a high heat and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat, put on the lid and simmer very gently for about 1½ hours. During the early stages you may need to skim a little scum from the top of the liquid.

After cooking, carefully lift the chicken out of the pot and leave to cool on a large plate. It will almost be falling apart and I find that two fish slices or pan turners work best. Pour the poaching stock through a fine sieve into a large clean bowl and leave to cool also. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, take the meat off the carcass, disarding the skin and any sinews. It’s easiest to use your fingers. You should be aiming for large bite-sized pieces. Except for the breasts, which you’ll need to cut into smaller pieces, this is the size that will naturally come away. If continuing the next day, place the chicken pieces in a bowl, cover with cling film and put in the fridge. Remove the fat from the stock with a fat separator or with absorbent kitchen paper towels. You’ll probably end up with over 2 litres of stock. Reserve 400ml for the next stage and keep the rest for making soups, risottos etc. The stock will keep for several days in the fridge and for months if frozen promptly.

Heat the chicken stock from the previous stage. For the sauce, melt the butter in a pan over a lowish heat. Add the flour and cook gently for a few minutes to make a roux. Don’t let the mixture colour at all. I find it easiest to do the next stage off the heat at first but some prefer to keep the low heat going. Pour the stock slowly into the roux and keep stirring to stop any lumps forming. Don’t panic if it looks a little lumpy: just slow down or stop the pouring and increase the stiring until things are smooth again. When you have added all the stock there should be a nice shine to the sauce. Add the wine and cream. Increase the heat and stir until the sauce has thickened nicely. When the sauce is starting to bubble, stir in the grated gruyère cheese, mustard and tarragon. Adjust the seasoning and let bubble away gently for 15mins.

Place the chicken in a buttered oven-proof dish and pour the sauce over it. You can prepare this several hours ahead. When it’s time for dinner, heat the oven to 200°C, mix the breadcrumbs, parmesan and a little olive oil (just enough to bind the mixture) and sprinkle over the top of the chicken and sauce. Place the dish in the oven and cook for about 25mins until bubbling and the breadcrumb mix golden.

Serve with some new potatoes and green vegetables, such as fine beans. Enjoy!