If you have been following this blog over the five years of its existence, you will have noticed that I am a bit of a meat snob. Either that, or I am keeping it very secret that I am actually consuming cuts other than beef fillet. I very rarely buy anything else, mainly because I tend to lean towards dishes that are quick to make and there's no better cut than a fillet for that. Slap it on the barbecue and you'll have a hard time getting your sides done by the time your steaks are a good medium...
The only times when I buy different cuts are when I am cooking traditional Austrian dishes which favour the cheaper bits of the cow or pig... or when I am spoilt for time on a weekend and can venture into slow-cooking. For this month's edition of "Waiter! There's something in my..." I chose the theme Bistro Food, since I have been cooking a lot of that lately - the immediate stress of exams over and the weather not always being tops, slow roasts are a perfect choice for a weekend cooking extravaganza. The reality is that this needs very little preparation, then you can leave it unattended in the oven for a good three hours... so it's not even that labout-intensive, even if it spans out over the afternoon.
The original recipe for this is from a much-used book written by Anthony Demetre: Today's Special (a copy of which is up for grabs for one lucky participant in this round) - as in his restaurants Wild Honey and Arbutus, this talented chef is reviving the forgotten cuts, exactly those pieces that I usually wouldn't consider buying, simply because I don't know enough about them. When I ventured into my butcher's the other day, I discovered that I wasn't alone... the short ribs of beef (Jacob's Ladder) is apparently something that is simply not cut in this country, the alternative I wanted (Osso Buco) is something that they haven't cut in 25 years! People just don't tend to ask for it. Being good as he is, he did suggest a great alternative (rib of beef) and promised he'd do the traditional osso buco cut for me if I called in advance.
This was by far the tastiest roast I have had in a while, the meat literally fell off the bone and I had a hard time resisting the temptation to wipe off the juices of my fellow diners' plates with a slice of my home-made sourdough... with a creamy butternut squash & celeriac puree, some garlicky spinach and the cream & port shallots from the same book, this was as perfect as a relaxed dinner gets!
WTSIM update: seeing how late I am in submitting my entry, I will extend the deadline for this month's event... I realise that those of you enjoying the glorious weather like us here in London might not feel in the mood for bistro food either. If you would like to participate, please send me your entry by the end of this week!!!
Slow-roast rib of beef
(serves 2 generously)
800 g rib of beef
2 tbsp ghee (or butter)
1 large onion (peeled and roughly chopped)
2 carrots (roughly chopped)
1 celery stalk (roughly chopped)
6 cloves garlic (peeled and crushed)
200 ml red wine
200 ml port wine
1 bouquet garni
500 ml vegetable (or beef) stock
Butternut squash & celeriac purée
250 g butternut squash (peeled & diced)
250g celeriac (peeled and diced)
1 tsp sea salt
500 ml water
30 g butter
juice of half a lemon
Shallots a la crème
1 tsp ghee
8 shallots (peeled)
2 cloves garlic (peeled)
1 sprig thyme
75 ml portwine
50 ml cream
50 ml vegetable stock
Generously season the rib of beef with freshly ground pepper, then dust with flour, shaking off any excess.
In an oven-proof casserole, heat 1 tbsp of ghee (or butter), then brown the beef on all sides. Lift out and set aside.
Add the remaining ghee (or butter) to the pan, melt and add the vegetables, fry until browning, then deglaze with 4 tbsp of the red wine. When evaporated, add the remaining wine and port wine, reduce by one third, then place the rib of beef and bouquet garni in the casserole. Top with the vegetable stock and cook (covered) for 2 hours in a 150C oven.
Meanwhile, prepare the purée and shallots.
Place the squash and celeriac in a pot with lid, add the salt and water and cook until the vegetables are very soft. Drain, then add the butter and purée with a hand-held blender, until very smooth. Season with the lemon juice.
Fry the shallots and garlic in the ghee (or butter) until browning, add the thyme. Deglaze with portwine, reduce by half. Add the cream and stock and reduce again, cook on medium heat (covered) until tender.
When ready to serve, lift the beef out and set aside (very carefully, as it will be falling off the bone at this stage), remove and discard the vegetables with a slotted spoon. Reduce the juices by about a third and leave to thicken, adding some thickening granules, if required.
Place the beef back in the juices, serve with butternut squash purée and shallots.