Tag Archives: beef

This week’s food news | 6th August 2010

Cloned cows cause chaos
This week’s big news was the whole cloned meat, cloned milk fiasco. It initially emerged that there was milk from cloned cattle in the UK. Next it was cloned meat, as it was revealed that meat from the offspring of cloned cattle had been noshed. Some are saying the meat is fine, others think we’re all going to start mooing. Would eating cloned cow bother you? Continue reading


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Lazy beef stew with herb dumplings

There are times when you want to wallow in the kitchen. Those indolent, meandering Saturday afternoons where you have nothing to do but put some music on, crack into a bottle of cider and lovingly coddle and cosset whatever it might be that you are creating. Or the mornings when Radio 4, a pot of coffee and a meticulously created soup or loaf are all that you need for comfort.

There are, however, also times when necessity outweighs nurture, and the notion of spending a couple of hours in the kitchen is just not practical. These aren’t necessarily moments to revert to the takeaway drawer or the tin of soup in the cupboard (though these undoubtedly have their place). Instead, it’s possible to be much more economical with your time in the kitchen when the need arises. There is no doubt in my mind that the vast majority of meat-based dishes benefit from having the meat browned first. There is also no doubt that this can be a time-consuming and smelly process when done for large numbers. Last week I was doing stew for 14 whilst trying to do a three course dinner the same afternoon, and quite frankly could not be arsed to fart around browning 2kg of beef shin. So I whacked the oven to full blast and browned the meat in there. In the time it took to do this (about 15 minutes) I had done all the rest of the mise, with no smoke to boot. It wasn’t perfect, but it was close enough.

The Recipe

WARNING: This recipe is bad for the environment – it uses beef (naughty, flatulent, delicious animals) and is stewed for 6 hours (boo). You could cook it for less time at, say, 170C instead, or, alternatively, turn off all other appliances whilst cooking* and walk to the shops next time.

Serves 12-14 (it’s worth making extras if you have room in the freezer)

2 kg beef shin

150g unsmoked streaky bacon, roughly chopped

2 large onions, peeled and chopped

4 sticks celery, chopped

4 large carrots, peeled and sliced

2 cloves garlic, unpeeled and crushed

1 bottle of red wine (I used a Nero d’Avola, but let’s face it, you’re going to use what’s lying about)

1 litre beef stock

2 tablespoons tomato puree

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons flour

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

For the dumplings

250g self-raising flour

125g butter

2 teaspoons chopped thyme



– Turn the oven on full blast.

– In a large roasting pan, season the beef with salt and pepper and toss in oil. Put in the top of the oven for 10-15 minutes until brown. Meanwhile fry the bacon over a medium heat until crispy and add the vegetables. Stir occasionally until lightly coloured and softened.

– Add the beef, red wine, stock, flour, tomato puree and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Cover and bung in the oven. Turn the oven down to 120C and cook for 6 hours. Alternatively cook for 2-3 hours at 170C. You can do this part a day or two ahead.

– For the dumplings, whizz the flour, butter and thyme together with a pinch of salt until they resemble green-specked bread crumbs. Add a little cold water and blend until the mixture comes together. Form into balls.

– Turn the oven back up to 180C (I know, I know, the poor polar bears) and pop the dumplings into the stew so that they are half submerged. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, then remove the lid and cook for a further 10 minutes, until light brown on top.

– Serve with lashings of English mustard.

* I have no idea whatsoever if this method has any scientific clout.


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A warming and nostalgic escape from this perpetual rain. With a southern-tinged playlist to boot.

Serves 4-6

750g beef mince

250g pork mince

2 finely chopped shallots

1 clove garlic, crushed

75g breadcrumbs

1 egg

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons tomato ketchup

1 teaspoon paprika, or thereabouts

A few shakes of tabasco

2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme leaves

Salt and pepper

*     *     *     *     *    *    *    *    *    *     *     *     *     *    *    *    *    *

Preheat the oven to 180C and boil the kettle.

Mix all of the ingredients together thoroughly with your hands. If you are feeling particularly pernickety, fry a little of the mixture and taste for seasoning. Otherwise trust your instincts, ignore all the salt naysayers, and season the hell out of the mix.

Push your mixture into an oiled loaf tin, and place that tin into a small roasting dish. Pour some boiling water into the roasting dish to reach about half way up the side of the loaf tin and pop in the oven. Bake for an hour and a half.

Remove and leave to rest for 15 minutes before turning out (beware of the juices that will have pooled in the bottom of the tin) and serving. Good with baked spud and sprouts with fried chorizo.

Meatloaf-making mega mix

Thanks to Dan of Essex Eating fame for introducing me to Louis Prima – what a tune.

[clearspring_widget title=”Grooveshark Widget: Chameleon” wid=”48f3ef6c29317865″ pid=”4b1e42d7c41a4e12″ width=”400″ height=”300″ domain=”widgets.clearspring.com”]

What do you like to cook to? Send me your favourite cooking tunes and I’ll fire them into the next playlist.



Filed under Playlists, Recipes

All you need is love [Chilli beef noodle soup]

Of all the cliches, adages and tautologies on Masterchef, the word that turns my stomach again and again is ‘passion’. Everything is about ‘passion’, it seems – passion for cooking, passion for food, passion for ingredients, passion for experimentation etc etc. It’s terribly perfunctory. It has become a punctuation mark, a sentence filler for when the judges can’t think of anything more insightful to say about a contestant. As Tony Naylor writes on the Guardian Word of Mouth blog, Masterchef has stripped the word of any meaning through ‘flagrant overuse’.It is also, more often than not, a euphemism. The cooking equivalent to the schoolmaster’s “Ramsden tries hard” (i.e. Ramsden is thick as mud soup but I’ve got to wrestle some positive out of this car crash of a term).

For me it is not only overused, misused and abused, but it is a notion that is revered far beyond the measure it should be. This passion for food – what does it really mean? Passion is an ephemeral emotion, an intense, uncontrollable reflex. Passion doesn’t sustain. It is the lusty throe of ecstasy, the impulsive stab of desire. Passion glints fleetingly in the glossy covers of food porn, or explodes magnificently in the climax of a meal. Passion does not last, and food cooked with passion and passion alone will most likely be inconsistent. There will be flashes of brilliance, sure, but in those moments when the spark is gone, what is left to support the cook?

For without love, there is nothing. Love and everything that comes with it – care, attention, nurture, devotion, and – yes – passion. Take Monday night. I had been working all day (a rarity), and returned late and hungry. Sunday’s chicken had been made into stock, while any leftover meat had been stripped from the carcass and awaited my greedy advances. Against my better judgement (and due to a fairly empty fridge) I landed on making a risotto. I have never been convinced that chicken risotto works. I just don’t feel that chicken’s texture works well amidst the starchy grains, despite it being a leftovers staple. I’d rather prod it into a sandwich with a generous spoonful of mayonnaise, or, even better, toss it through crisp salad leaves with croutons and a piquant dressing.

But fate seemed to have decreed otherwise – the rice winked at me from the front of the cupboard, the stock was there, waiting, on the hob, the chicken already diced. There was even a bag of peas in the freezer to add bite and freshness. But because I was not convinced by the risotto’s validity, I cooked it half-heartedly, one eye on the pot, one eye on the television. The result was a perfectly edible risotto, but one that did not come even close to inspiring any kind of passion in me whatsoever. The cooking had lacked care, and it tasted like it.

Two night’s later I return in similar circumstances. This time there are two of us, and this time I have thought carefully about what I want to eat. I cook with all due care, attention, and love. The soup, while simplicity defined, is soothing and delicious. It is also quick and cheap.

Chilli beef noodle soup

Serves 2

4 spring onions, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 thumb of ginger, peeled and chopped into matchsticks
2 birds eye chillies, sliced
A handful of coriander, roughly chopped
300ml chicken stock
1 tablespoon fish sauce
Half a Chinese cabbage, sliced
100g oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 rump steak
A handful of rice noodles
1 red chilli, halved, deseeded and sliced
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a saucepan and add the spring onions, garlic, ginger and chillies. Stir constantly for 30 seconds, then add the coriander (reserving a little for the end), chicken stock and fish sauce. Bring to the boil, then add the mushrooms and cabbage. Turn the heat right down and simmer while you prepare the rest of the soup.

Boil the kettle and pour the water over the rice noodles in a bowl. Leave to soak for five minutes.

Meanwhile, season the steak with salt and pepper and rub with olive oil. Get a frying pan very hot (so that holding your hand 6 inches above it is unbearable for more than a second or two) and fry the steak for two minutes on each side. Remove to a plate to rest.

Drain the noodles and divide between serving bowls. Spoon over the soup making sure you get plenty of cabbage and mushrooms. Slice the steak thickly and arrange over the bowls. Garnish with slices of red chilli and a handful of coriander.

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