Greek pot-roast beef with spaghetti

This recipe combines local beef with a recipe from The Home Book of Greek Cookery by Joyce M. Stubbs, which I bought in a jumble sale in the 1980s for 20p. This was very easy and very tasty as well.

INGREDIENTS:

    • 3-4lb rolled beef, for example brisket or silver-side
    • 250ml olive oil
    • 2 medium onions
    • 4 cloves of garlic
    • 1 dsp sugar
    • 3 tbsp tomato paste (organic paste from the wholefood co-op)
    • 1 stick or 1 tsp cinnamon (all herbs and spices available from the wholefood co-op)
    • 1 bayleaf
    • 2 cloves
    • salt and pepper
    • Spaghetti (75g per person)
    • grated parmesan

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a heavy pan and brown the meat on all sides.
  • Remove the meat from the pan, and add the finely chopped onions, garlic, salt and pepper, and the spices, and fry very gently together
  • Mix the tomato paste with 300ml of hot water, and add to the fried onions. Bring to a simmer, and add the bayleaf and the meat.
  • Simmer for around 2-3 hours, either on the hob or in a low oven, until the meat is tender and the sauce is thick and rich. Keep an eye on the pot-roast and add a little water if it looks like it might boil dry.
  • Cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the pack.
  • To serve, mix about half of the sauce with the spaghetti, divide between the serving plates, and top with parmesan cheese. Next add a thick slice of meat and another spoonful of sauce.
  • The book also suggests serving the pasta as one course and the meat as part of the next course.

Beefheart and kidney stew

INGREDIENTS:

  • One beefheart, chopped into large cubes
  • 2 lamb or pig kidneys, prepared and chopped
  • 1 or 2 rashers of streaky smoked bacon, or lardons
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 florence fennel (if available)
  • vegetable oil, dripping or other cooking fat
  • 1 large glass of wine
  • 1 can organic butterbeans
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 bayleaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 heaped tbsp flour blended with a little butter

METHOD:

  • Using a deep cast-iron casserole dish, heat the cooking fat and fry off the chopped meat, and set aside.
  • Fry the bacon in the fat with the finely chopped shallots
  • Add the meat back to the pan, along with the glass of wine, herbs, salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer
  • Cook in a very slow oven, around 110C for approximately five hours
  • Add the beans and the flour mixture, stir and cook for another 20 minutes or so.

We ate this with mashed potato, carrots and leeks. Any left-over stew could be used for a pie filling.

Beef Cheeks

We are working through the lower reaches of our freezer, and someone has given us beef cheeks. I am very keen on eating all of the animal, waste is a terrible thing.

Beef cheeks are tough, cheap and extremely tasty cuts of meat that need long cook times to make them tender. You could use shin of beef or venison for this recipe instead.

First off, I had to prepare the beef cheek. I started with about 600g of meat, but a lot of it was sheets of fat and connective tissue. I trimmed it, using a very sharp knife, and then cut the remaining sheets of meat into pieces about the size of half a post-card, and about 1 cm thick.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 600g ox/beef cheeks
  • seasoned flour, 2 tbsp
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 2 large Carrots, chopped
  • 2 sticks Celery, chopped
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • a dash Brandy
  • 300ml Red Wine
  • 1 clove
  • half tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 pinch of aniseed
  • 4 sprigs of time, or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 can of tomatoes, blended
  • 2 Anchovies (you can buy these in a jar, in oil)
  • Salt and Black pepper
  • Flat Leaf Parsley, to serve.

METHOD:

Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees celsius.

  • Trim the cheeks as described above, coat each piece with seasoned flour. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish, and brown the cheeks. Once they are done, remove from the pan and set aside.
  • Slice the onions, carrots, garlic and celery and cook in the same pan over a medium to low heat, until soft. Add a little more butter or olive oil if required
  • Once the vegetables are soft, increase the heat and add the meat back to the pan, with the can of pureed tomatoes. Mix to coat the ox cheeks and veg in the puree and bring to a simmer.
  • Add the wine, brandy, clove, cinnamon, thyme, bayleaves, aniseed and anchovies, and bring to a simmer. Put the pan into the oven to cook for 2 1/2 hours.You may wish to check that there is enough liquid in the pan half way; add stock or water if necessary
  • After 2 1/2 hours, check that the meat is tender, and turn the oven off, leaving the pan in the oven. Use this time to make mashed potatoes, cook any additional vegetables, have a cheeky wee glass of wine, and remember to warm the plates.

We had this with mashed potatoes, but the original recipe suggested polenta as an alternative. It was delicious.