I hope that you didn’t over-eat as much as I did during the Festive Season! However, notwithstanding my excesses, I pleasurably survived and indeed now find myself in the doldrums. January tends to be like that does it not? The weather seems to get worse, the short days more miserable and, of course, there is not even Christmas to look forward to. It is the time of year when I think of warmth by the hearth, a good book and rich, hot food.
I was recently introduced to jugged beef. This was a new one on me. The only other time I had come across this culinary term, jugged, was in relation to hare. However, I am reliably informed that it simply means cooked slowly in a tightly covered pan and could thus apply equally well to almost any meat. Anyway, the recipe that follows requires shin beef which, although costing less than the normal stewing steaks, is absolutely right for this dish. Any other form of beef would develop that dull, fibrous quality. Shin has enough connective tissue to cook down to a silky, textured casserole with a deep flavour.
I live in the heart of the country and while the nearby town has a number of butcher-shops, none of them do sophisticated! It was thus with some trepidation that I made a foray to purchase for the first time, the shin beef required for this dish. I sidled into the shop and started the conversation with an oblique, “You wouldn’t by any chance have any shin beef?” I nearly fell over when my enquiry elicited the bland response, “How much do you want?” I was home and dry. Do follow in my footsteps and like me, you will be rewarded. This is a truly rich, hot, comforting dish.
1kg shin beef, trimmed and diced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 bay leaf
5 tbsp wine
5 streaky rashers, chopped
1tbsp redcurrant jelly*
Finely grated zest of half an orange
300ml beef stock
Parsley to garnish
Black pepper and salt to season
*On one occasion, I did not have any redcurrant jelly to hand and substituted it with apricot jam. It was fine.
Place the meat, oil, onion, bay leaf, wine and seasoning in a bowl and marinate for at least four hours and if possible, overnight. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Fry the bacon in a little oil in a large casserole. Stir in the flour and then add the redcurrant jelly, the orange rind and the stock and bring gently to the boil. Add the meat and the marinade. Tightly cover the casserole dish (I cover it in tin foil before placing the lid on top) and transfer to the oven. Cook for two and a half hours, checking on it at regular intervals and adding water as necessary. Serve with a scattering of parsley on top.