I don’t often go for beer-driven casseroles. But the nice people at Le Creuset asked me if I’d try this recipe out. Being a massive fan of the volcanic orange cookware I’m happy to give it a go. And it’s what you want out of a February stew – rich and savoury, with meaty, comforting warmth. Served with mash it’s just what this time of year needs.
Beef in beer (serves 4):
1kg beef chuck, in 5cm chunks
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
450g carrots, thickly sliced
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
A few sprigs of fresh thyme, parsley and rosemary
2 bay leaves
750ml ale or beer – Lager or Pale Ale Or Guinness
40g pearl barley
200g mushrooms, quartered
- Preheat the oven to 140°C.
- Heat a little oil in a large casserole dish and brown the beef evenly over a high heat. Leave the beef to one side and add the onions, carrots, garlic and fry gently for a couple of minutes until softened. Put the beef back in the pot and add all the other ingredients and a mugful of water. Cover and put in the oven for 3 to 4 hours, or until the beef is tender. Serve with fluffy mash.
Yes, there is a link up there which I was asked if I would put in – and being such a big fan of Le Cresuet I obliged. I received nothing in return for it, I’m just happy to support a brand I believe in.
apple pancakes with maple syrup
Pancakes for breakfast are the perfect Sunday treat. Usually the whole family gets involved, someone peels apples, someone cracks eggs, someone whisks up the batter and someone cooks. I can almost pass it off as healthy when there’s fruit involved… OK, maybe not. The presence of apples here is bittersweet against the tang of Greek yoghurt and the sticky sweetness of maple syrup, all soaked up with a fluffy pancake.
There’s nothing wrong with the accepted crêpe-style pancake on Shrove Tuesday, but for a change you could do worse than these more American types. And while you’re thumbing your nose at tradition check out this amusing Miffy pancake and mould. The mould plops out pretty rabbit heads! Apologies for the self-indulgence but my 3 year old would go absolutely bananas (sorry, apples) for this, given that she sleeps in a Miffy bed-spread clutching her Miffy rabbit nearly as big as her, after being put to bed with a Miffy story.
If you can’t get hold of one of those, a round pancake would be just as good. Just don’t let my daughter know they come in rabbit-shapes or she’ll never eat anything else.
1 apple per person, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon sugar
Knob of butter
Pinch of cinnamon
A mugful each of flour and milk
Greek yoghurt and maple syrup to serve
- Get the apples going by melting the butter and sugar together in a pan, then adding the cinnamon and apples. Toss the apples in the flavoured butter but be careful not to stir too much – you don’t want apple sauce. Keep cooking gently until they are tender and then keep warm. You may wish to add a little more or less sugar depending on the variety of apple you’ve used.
- Whisk the flour, milk and egg together with a pinch each of sugar and salt until smooth.
- Melt a little butter in a pan and ladle in some pancake mixture – it should spread to about 10cm across. Continue to cook until browned on one side, then flip.
- Serve the apples on top of the pancakes, dollop over some Greek yoghurt and drizzle with maple syrup.
Yes eagle-eyes, you’re right: that’s not macaroni in the picture. But this recipe is full of substitutions. What it tells me is this recipe has a great base from which to build on.
This is Heston’s recipe for macaroni cheese from How To Cook Like Heston, and is predictably very, very tasty. Like most people I usually kick cheese sauces off with a roux, but this approach melts cheese into reduced wine and stock. I’m amazed it works. I think I let the cheese cook a tiny bit too long and it started to split on me, but just about caught it in time. I also veered off from the recipe as I didn’t have a posh cheddar, nor cream cheese in the house but instead let it down with pasta water. That’s another bonkers bit – in the original recipe the pasta is cooked in a very shallow amount of water but I didn’t quite have the attention to monitor that one today. I boiled it in the usual way and it worked just fine.
I’ll definitely be making cheese sauces from this base in future – no more floury rouxs for me.
The original recipe is here, and you can find it in Heston Blumenthal At Home (as “truffle macaroni”) as well.
Heston Blumenthal’s macaroni cheese (serves 4):
300ml white wine
300ml chicken stock
140g cheddar, grated
1 heaped teaspoon cornflour
A few drops of truffle oil
A little grated parmesan
- Get the pasta on to boil in a large saucepan of salted water and cook according to the packet instructions.
- In a separate pan reduce the wine down to “30ml” (I have no idea how you can easily tell what level you’re down to without a lot of faff so eyeball it and trust your gut). Add the stock to this wine reduction.
- Preheat the grill. Toss the cheese with the cornflour and add to the winey stock. Turn the heat right down low, add some black pepper and stir until thoroughly combined. As soon as it’s smooth turn the heat off.
- Drain the pasta and reserve some of the water. Trickle over a tiny amount of truffle oil, toss and add to the sauce, then transfer to a baking dish. Top with the parmesan and pop under the grill until bubbling.
Heston’s latest series, How to Cook Like Heston, is probably the one that could finally convert the non-believers. It’s vintage Heston treading familiar recipes, but taking them just far enough, and just explaining enough to make them accessible for those that want to try. The best example of this is roast chicken: I’ve previously cooked his perfect roast chicken (from In Search of Perfection) and it’s a brilliant recipe. But despite its relative simplicity there are a couple of stages in it that could be intimidating: plunging into water a few times, trying to cook a whole chicken in a frying pan, and chicken wing butter. So I was intrigued to see him show an even further simplified version on the show.
The brining is still there; an absolute necessity in my book. A low solution of 6% keeps the meat moist without making it too strong and cure-like. The slow roasting is also there, “low and slow” as Heston puts it, and after a simple resting back into your hottest oven to finish off. For the roasting itself, you simply have to use a meat thermometer to be sure that it’s done. I recommend Salter’s Heston-branded one but any one will do. It is recommended that you take the meat to 75°C; Heston admits that but says 60°C gives you the perfect succulence. If you have bird of spotless provenance that would probably be fine but I took my mid-range supermarket bird to 70°C.
And it’s tremendous of course. In fact I’d possibly argue that the extra stages introduced by the Perfection version are unnecessary. You get a fabulously juicy, tasty chicken, plump with flavour and intense chickenness. It’s well worth giving a go once – it takes no more effort than a regular roast chicken, just the brining the night before and a bit longer time blocked out for the oven. If you love your Sunday roast chicken, you owe it to your dinner table to try this one out.
The link to the Channel 4 recipe is here. An even more developed and detailed version of the recipe is in the book Heston Blumenthal at Home.
Heston Blumenthal’s roast chicken (serves 4–6):
6% brine (I used 240g salt dissolved in 4 litres of water)
1 bunch of thyme
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for rubbing into the skin
30ml dry white wine
- Remove the trussing from the chicken to allow it to cook more evenly then place it in a container. Pour over the brine ensuring that the chicken is submerged then place in the fridge overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 90ºC. Remove the chicken from the liquid, rinse with fresh water and pat dry with kitchen paper. Place on a wire rack over a baking tray.
- Roll and pierce the lemon then place it in the cavity of the bird with half the thyme. Rub some softened butter on top of the skin. Roast the chicken until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the breast is 60ºC (for mine to hit 70ºC took 2 hours 20 minutes but there’s so many factors involved you should check every half hour from about 2 hours onwards).
- Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest for 45 minutes. Turn the oven temperature as high as it will go. This is a good time to use the oven if you’re doing roast potatoes.
- In the meantime, melt the butter in a pan and add the wine and a few sprigs of thyme. Bring to the boil then remove the pan from the heat and use the melted butter to baste the chicken before browning. Grind over some black pepper.
- Once the resting time has elapsed, put the chicken back in the roasting tray and return it to the oven for approximately 10 minutes or until golden brown, taking care that it doesn’t burn.
- Once coloured, remove the chicken from the oven and carve. Serve with Heston’s perfect carrots and my perfect roast potatoes, a combination of methods including Heston’s.
I must have made beef stroganoff to a different recipe each time I’ve made it. There’s always beef, always mushrooms, always paprika and a creamy element. But like many of the best recipes, once you hit the familiar targets the rest falls where it may.
I’ve tried this version from Lawrence Keogh on Saturday Kitchen. The key here is the acidity brought by the white wine vinegar and white wine, which gives you a great contrast against the cream. This dish has everything going for it, a sharp-creamy sauce, crunchy pickles, tender meat – what a treat.
Adapted from Lawrence Keogh’s recipe. His recipe calls for a pilaff too, I sped it up by using plain boiled rice on the side
Beef stroganoff (serves 4):
450g rump steak pounded thin and cut into long strips
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ onion, finely chopped
150g button mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon tomato purée
50ml white wine vinegar
75ml white wine
200ml double cream
A few slices of gherkin, julienned
125ml sour cream
Flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 pinch sweet paprika
- Sprinkle the beef strips with the paprika and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat a large frying pan with the vegetable oil. Colour the beef as quickly as possible, making sure you keep them as rare as possible, then tip the meat into a colander, reserving any juices that drain off.
- Using the same pan, turn the heat down and add the butter, onion and mushrooms and cook for one minute.
- Add the tomato purée and cook for few more minutes, stirring the ingredients together. Turn the heat up again and add the white wine vinegar. Cook until completely evaporated.
- Add the white wine and cook until reduced by half then pour in the double cream, bring to a boil, and season with salt and pepper.
- Turn off the heat and tip in the beef and juices. Stir through to warm.
- To serve, pour the stroganoff into a large warmed serving dish and sprinkle with dill pickle. Drizzle the sour cream over the top then sprinkle with chopped parsley and dust with paprika. Serve with rice.