It’s very much stew weather around here, but instead of my usual “what’s in the fridge?” version of beef stew, I broke out a book that I’ve had for more than a decade but can’t actually remember the last time I made anything from it; Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course.
It’s a big tome of a book, which is to be expected from an Irish food Mecca that trains some of the best professional chefs in the country. Multiple columns of directions per page, and photos are few and far between, but the recipe is pretty straightforward. It’s a teaching book at heart, after all.
It doesn’t seem a particularly complicated recipe, but it’s time consuming – more in marinating and cooking time than actual active work though.
I’m lucky to have a great local butcher, so I used their diced round steak instead of buying and dicing a piece of topside as indicated in the recipe. Round steak is great for stewing.
I have the beef marinating with red wine, onion, carrot, garlic, thyme, bay, salt, pepper and olive oil. I’ve added a couple of extra bay leaves as I love bay and I’ve got a miniature tree in a pot so it’s not in short supply around here! Total time for weighing, measuring, chopping and soaking was about 10 minutes.
A quick note on wine:
I’ve used this is a decent merlot-malbec for this recipe. There’s quite a bit of wine in the marinade – 300ml all in – and cutting corners here will absolutely have an effect on the end result. Not as much as in something like coq au vin, but enough that I wouldn’t risk using Casa Collapso, or something open from the back of the fridge that should really just be chucked.
The whole lot is in a big lock and lock tub, and is not the prettiest sight, especially when the wine starts to work its magic on the beef. The tub is watertight though, so I can whack everything in very unceremoniously, snap the lid on, and then give it a good shakey shakey to mix everything. As I’m in and out of the kitchen this evening and tomorrow, I’ll give it another quick shake to keep everything moving along nicely.
In other news, while wandering around town this afternoon I discovered that Nisbet catering supply have opened a branch here! Very exciting, especially as they sell to the public. I had a good wander around, and picked up a nice balloon whisk – something that’s been missing from my kitchen.
I’ve bought and passed on/chucked multiple balloon whisks over the years, largely as they’ve always felt a bit flimsy for heavier jobs, or because they claim to be dishwasher friendly and aren’t. I once had trapped dirty dishwater slowly leak from a whisk handle into the bowl of cream I was whipping. Not the flavour addition I was hoping for, to say the least.