Peppered Shin Beef in Red Wine

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Peppered Shin Beef in Red Wine

This was last night’s supper. The shin beef was from those marvellous people at Parsonage Farm in Upton – please visit their website – Sarah and John Mills are two of the nicest farmers you could meet – they also butcher their own meat and have also moved into making their own salamis! They know their stuff. This dish shows shin beef at its very best – it is such a marvellous cut and highly underrated. Yes, it takes time to cook, but time well spent. I put this together in about 20 minutes and then popped it in the oven and went out for the day. I came home to the most marvellous aromas – what a welcome!

Preheat the oven to 150c. For 6 folk I used a kilo of shin, cut into large chunks. I used a heavy round casserole dish with a lid. I arranged half the beef on the bottom – added 5 whole peeled cloves of garlic, two sprigs of rosemary and 3 or 4 good grinds of black pepper. Then I popped the rest of the beef on top, plus 5 more cloves and more rosemary and more black pepper.

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Then add a whole bottle of a good red, preferably Italian. Add 2 bay leaves.

Pop the lid on and bring to a gentle boil on the hob. Then place in the centre of the oven for at least 6 hours. When it is ready check the seasoning – I added just a whisper of sea salt and a light drizzle of love oil. Then I removed the beef with a slotted spoon and broke it up gently with 2 forks – it drifts part in the most dreamy fashion. I served it with steamed cauliflower and baby new pots with a taleggio and cream sauce.

This is beef at its best. Full of rich dark flavours that haunt the tastebuds and make them crave more!

Dreamy creamy zucchini pancetta pasta…

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Dreamy creamy zucchini pancetta pasta...

One of those cold damp nights that needed a solidly substantial yet velvety pasta dish to nourish the nerves, soften the stress and warm the marrow. I decided to cobble together two of my favourite pasta dishes – both on this blog – and it worked perfectly. The creamy tomato pasta with the lardons and courgette pasta. But instead of lardons I had some wonderfully fragrant strips of pancetta. Washed down with a rugged French wine this was a delight.

Ingredients

300 gm of rigatoni pasta – soaks up the creamy sauce
12 baby plum toms
I clove garlic finely chopped
8 strips of pancetta
1 courgette / zucchini cubed
100 ml of cream
Tbsp rosemary
Sprinkle of dried crushed chilli
Olive oil
Black pepper

Pan fry the courgette in the olive oil for about 5 minutes then add the garlic. Continue til the courgette begins to brown then add the tomatoes. Add the chilli and the rosemary.

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Just to warn you at this point – the aroma is stunning!

Put the pasta on- takes 11 minutes normally.

Fry the courgette mix gently for around 8 minutes then add the pancetta. Once the pancetta starts to crisp, about two minutes, add the cream. After a minute add a grind of black pepper.

Drain the pasta and spoon over the creamy mixture.

A super autumnal dish.

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Monday magic… of the tomato variety…..

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Monday magic... of the tomato variety.....

Tonight was one of those nights when an experiment worked, and worked so well, I wanted to freeze time. The flavours were simply exquisite. I used one of my favourite base dishes of pan fried plum toms with rosemary and cream…and added to it. You know by now, well I know that you know that I know, that I like to fiddle with recipes…so here we fiddly well go!

For 4 folk who may have been working in the garden all day…

Two decent punnets of baby plum tomatoes – mine were from Spain and as sweet as a smile from Marilyn Monroe.
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
250 ml of single cream
5 or 6 slices of serrano ham – or prosciutto would be fine
1 slice of smoked bacon
A good handful or more of baby spinach and rocket, chopped
Black pepper
Olive oil

400 gm of pasta – rigatoni or fusilli

Pop a good tablespoon or two of oil in a frying pan. Heat and then add the tomatoes. Add the garlic after a minute or so, then chop off with scissors quite a lot of rosemary into the pan and then add the sprigs too.

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Let them cook for about 15 minutes or so on a low heat until they give when pressed with a spoon. Flatten them a little with a slotted spoon – but don’t break them open too much.

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In a second pan, fry the smoked bacon finely chopped. When cooked, add in the serrano ham chopped and allow to crisp a little.

Cook the pasta – I always use rigatoni for this.

Add the bacon and ham to the tomato mixture, then add the cream. Heat gently and after two or three minutes, add in the spinach and rocket. Grind over some black pepper. Stir for about 5 minutes until it wilts into the cream sauce.

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Drain the pasta and then pop a portion into each of the 4 bowls – then spoon over the tomato mixture.

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I cannot express how wonderfully dreamy and gorgeous this dish is. It is…believe me…….no……don’t….make it for yourself!

I had been gardening all day today trying, as I mentioned in the last post, to get it tidied before this weekend’s belated birthday celebrations for my son and daughter. In the process, I discovered that there were lots of blackberries lurking wistfully below my sage plants and rosemary bushes. So, I picked them! And happily my rhubarb had coped with my absence and soldiered on, producing several fine stems which I duly cut…but with love. I poached the chopped rhubarb lightly and then popped them and the blackberries in a low gratin dish. I knocked up a crumble mix using plain flour, porridge oats, some crushed pecans, pumpkin seeds, butter and brown sugar. The result was stultifyngly superb though I say it myself!

I think part of the secret of the crispy buttery top was cooking it for 40 minutes on 180 degrees then switching the oven off, removing the crumble and after about 10 minutes returning it to the cooling oven whilst we ate the main course.

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Anyway it was fruitastic and even better because it all cane from our garden. I drank a cold pinot noir from Alsace whilst cooking, and a lovely bottle of shiraz with the meal itself. I listened to Bob Marley on the record player, then the Pet Shop Boys ‘Disco’. I felt good… and I felt as if I was back where I belonged……in my kitchen!

And here was the mellow aftermath in Alfredo’s after our meal…my home from home…

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