Sunday dining: Braised beef with bacon & mushrooms
There is nothing quite like stew in winter. They're hearty, warming, filling.. good for restoring and comforting after too many warming whiskeys the night before. They are also good for using cheap cuts of meat, and take hours in the oven so you get the added benefit of warmth eminating from the kitchen and heating the house.
Braising is a cooking technique of browning food in fat then cooking it in a little liquid at a low heat for a long time. You need a pot/ casserole dish with a good-fitting lid, to evenly distribute heat.
Braised beef with bacon & mushrooms
(by Neil Perry)
1 kg beef chuck, cut into 4cm long pieces
Olive oil for cooking
8 small whole peeled onion or shallots
1 large brown onion sliced
2 rashers bacon sliced
2 cloves garlic sliced
sea salt to taste
8 large brown mushrooms in wedges
1 cup fresh tomato puree
1 fresh bay leaf
1 sprig rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
Brown off the beef in a little olive oil, in a large roasting tray. Remove the meat when well coloured on all sides and set aside.
Add the onions to the same tray and caramelize well on all sides. Add the sliced onion, bacon, garlic and salt. Reduce the heat so the onion doesn't colour too much but rather just softens and sweetens.
Add the mushrooms, stir through, then return the meat to the roasting tray and mix all ingredients together well. Add the tomato puree, enough to just cover. If it doesn't quite cover the meat, you can top up with chicken stock or water. Add the herbs, cover with foil and braise in a medium oven for 2 1⁄2 hours.
Serve with your favourite vegetables or salad and plenty of soft polenta or crusty buttered bread, and get ready for hibernation.