Sunday, 11 January 2009

Satisfying Beef Stew

Well so much for New Year's resolutions, it's a week since my last blog. I haven't forgotten I've been working on those tricky behind the scenes layers that make the blog work better. I find it weirdly fascinating trying to decipher html code, like some foreign language with no verbs, but when you manage to make something work it is very satisfying. However, my webmaster who helps with my website is not out of a job yet. My next foray is into audio clips. Well, all this occupies so much time and drives me to the brink of insanity that I have no energy to put something down on the page. Yesterday I stayed off the computer and spent the day in the kitchen. I came home from a chilly trip to the market -13C (Do you wonder why I go on about the weather? I put in these references for my Australian friends and it is at this time of the year that I miss Australia the most) with a beautiful large piece of brisket and a more manageable piece of chuck. My piece of chuck was tied for roasting although, it would need to be pot-roasted or braised, as it is a tough piece of meat. I seem to remember that we called this a blade roast when I was young, an appropriate name as it comes from around the shoulder blade. I was planning to make beef stew.
I prefer to buy a piece of meat for stewing then I can cut it into whatever sized pieces I choose. I decided on 4cm pieces mainly because that worked best with the thickness of my piece. It had some layers of wonderful fat, which of course, I left untouched. I marinated the meat for a few hours, then I braised it slowly with onions, carrots, celery, bay leaf, garlic, thyme and parsley stems for 3 hours. About 30 minutes before it was ready I added three field mushrooms, now fashionably called portobellos. I served the stew with suet dumplings flavoured with double smoked bacon and shallot. As you can imagine it was delicious. I do apologise for not having a photo, it did look good, but it was just one of those evenings. My husband and his two colleagues were working late so I invited them all for beef stew. It vanished from the pot before I remembered to snap it. I thought I'd have leftovers but it was a great endorsement of how good it tasted and it was the perfect dish for a cold snowy night (take that Australia).
There was a price to pay though, I made my guests taste 3 versions of the dessert I'd spent the rest of the day working on. We narrowed it down to two out of the three, and none of them guessed the "secret" ingredient. And it will stay a secret a little while longer so my other tasters won't be biased. I may manage a photo of it and I promise to photograph the brisket.

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