Eight Bells

If you enjoy this blog please leave a comment, if there is something you would like to see feel free to make a request and don't forget to use the search function.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Beef and Guinness Stew

Here is my take on a what has become a bit of a classic. This will easily serve six. The real beauty of this recipe is that most liquor outlets only sell Guinness in four packs so I get to drink the other three cans while I'm cooking. That's nice. You will need a large casserole like the one in the picture below so that you can brown meat and cook the casserole on the oven top in the same dish. You can get this particular Le Creuset for around $420 or do what we did and get it free with your Fly Buys! Bonus!

Guinness Stew
1.5 kg of beef shin cut in to 2-3 cm chunks (you will need to buy around 1.8kg of shin on the bone to get 1.5kg of meat)
1 440ml can of Guinness
500ml of beef stock
2 large onions, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, sliced into large pieces
2 parsnips, cut in half down the middle
2 sticks of celery, sliced quite finely
5 medium potatoes, quartered
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
A can of chopped tomatoes
6 cloves of garlic, skin on
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon each of dried thyme, oregano and parsley

Marinate your beef in the Guinness overnight in the fridge.
Take the beef from the Guinness and pat the beef dry with paper towels, save the Guinness.
Put a little oil in your casserole, brown the beef well in three separate lots and put aside.
Add the celery, garlic, onion and carrots to the pot and cook for 2-3 minutes while stirring then put the lid on and cook a further 5-6 minutes till the onion is starting to soften.
Add the meat, herbs, Guinness, beef stock, tomato paste, tinned tomatoes, salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper (by plenty I mean at least a tablespoon). Mix everything together and cook over a low heat so that the stew is just simmering for 1 1/2 hours stirring about every 30 minutes.
Add the potatoes and parsnips after 1 1/2 hours and cook for a further 30 mins making sure that the potatoes are immersed in the liquid from the stew. Taste at this stage and add further salt and pepper if necessary.
After the potatoes have been in for 30 minutes remove the lid and cook for a further 30 minutes making sure that you do not over cook the potatoes as they will disintegrate (this is bad).
Thicken the stew by making a paste (beurre manier) using a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of flour. When the flour and butter are well mixed add half a cup of the stew liquid and whisk until combined. Add this mixture to the stew, mix in well and cook for 5-10 minutes until the stew is thick. Season again if necessary remembering that the potatoes will tend to thin out your flavours and may make the stew a little bland if not seasoned well. If you do find that the flavour isn't strong enough for you just reduce the stock volume to 250ml and cook the potatoes and parsnips separately next time, personally I like them in there.
Serve with something green.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Provençal Style Leg of Lamb with Potato and Courgette Gratin

You may have seen this recipe before in this blog but it has been a while and it is such a great winter dish that I think it is worth repeating. The lamb recipe is taken from Cuisine magazine issue 117, with a few minor changes. The Cuisine recipe does not include stuffing the lamb. In the magazine the accompanying gratin recipe is for a courgette gratin. We made a courgette and potato gratin loosely based on the Cuisine recipe. The recipes below will serve 4-6.

1 boned leg of lamb
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons of olive oil
6 sundried tomatoes, soaked in boiling water to rehydrate and then chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 bulb of garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
2 large tomatoes, skinned, seeded and quartered
Several sprigs of fresh thyme
300ml of dry white wine (we used Montana Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc)
1/2 a cup of baby niçoise olives (we just used black olives)
2-3 anchovies, chopped (we used 6)

1 tablespoon each of chopped parsley and chives
1 tin of artichoke hearts, bases removed
35g of pine nuts
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon of oil

600g of small courgettes
1.3 kg of potatoes
60g of butter plus some extra to dot the surface
1 large onion finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons of flour
350ml of milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3-4 tablespoons of finely chopped flat leafed parsley
1/4 of a cup each of grated gruyere and parmesan cheese
1/2 a cup of fresh breadcrumbs
1/4 of a cup of white wine

Preheat the oven to 180C. Whiz the stuffing ingredients together in a food processor. Stuff the lamb and tie with kitchen twine. Rub the lamb leg with olive oil (we used a lemon infused olive oil) and season very generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper (lots of pepper). Heat the olive oil in a large heavy casserole on a hot oven element and brown the lamb well all over.
Add the chopped onion and continue to cook, stirring until golden. Add the garlic, tomatoes, thyme and half the wine and bring to a gentle simmer.
Place the casserole in the oven and cook for two hours, taking out occasionally to turn the lamb and ensure that the liquid has not evaporated. Add more wine during cooking if necessary. Add the olives and anchovies after one hour.
When ready take the lamb out of the casserole, carve and serve. Pour some of the sauce over the meat, we placed extra sauce on the side in ramekins.

Peel the potatoes and top and tail the courgettes. Slice the potatoes and courgettes lengthwise.
Parboil the potato slices briefly and then leave them to cool. Arrange the courgette and potato slices in neat overlapping rows in an large ovenproof dish. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the chopped onion and cook until soft and golden. Add the flour and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the milk and stir until the milk comes to the boil. Add the wine, turn the heat down and simmer over a low heat until the sauce thickens. Season the sauce, add the parsley and pour the sauce over the potatoes and courgettes. Mix the cheese with the breadcrumbs and sprinkle over the surface adding a few dots of butter as you go.
Bake for 35-40 minutes at 180C until golden brown. Serve with the lamb.