Firstly, lets be clear about one thing. Normally, I remember everything thats meant to go into my cooking. Being sent home sick from work on Friday, I have to admit I wasn't really on form on Saturday when I started on one of my famous stews. To put that in perspective, I rarely work off actual recipes anyway, but there are certain things that must be done. So it was rather unfortunate that with Uncle K coming to dinner, I missed out the critical dosage of brown sugar necessary to balance the balsamic vinegar that gives the beef its melty texture.
On top of that, I thought that rather than my tried and true dumplings, modified only slightly from the classic Edmonds Cookbook recipe, I'd have a go at Yorkshire pudding. Well, there's some work needing to be done to get those right. I'm sure that its not meant to form a dark crust on the underside that tastes more like burnt toast than either Yorkshire or pudding. I'll give them another go at some point, maybe doing it in muffin tins like C has suggested. Until then, it'll be dumplings all the way.
Luckily, the homemade bread came out perfectly, but you get that after about 6 years practice. Thanks to L for the extra cheese in the fridge.
Despite the hiccups (no pun intended), everything got eaten and was well enjoyed by all, even the obligatory steamed broccoli and cauli. Dinner was followed by Celtic beer and the David Fincher mini-epic Zodiac, which was longer than it needed to be, but nicely shot, before discussions about building fences and gates.
Sugar Free Stew (with optional recommended Sugar) - Serves 3 (plus one 1-yr old)
600g Topside Beef - cube and season with freshly ground nutmeg, salt & pepper, olive oil, worcester sauce, balsamic vinegar, dried tarragon, carraway seeds, 2 bay leaves, flour to coat. This is also where, if you remember, you should add the brown sugar. Leave to stand for at least 15 minutes. Chop 2 onions, 2 carrots, and a bulb of garlic.
Preheat the oven to 200c.
Brown meat in hot oil in batches. Place browned meat in an ovenproof dish with a lid, and put the onions, carrots and garlic into the hot pan. Wilt lightly, then add a good splash of soy sauce. Simmer that for a few minutes. Remove to the dish with the meat, and heat the pan before adding:
1/2 cup of red cooking wine, 1 1/2 cups of beef stock with about 2 T of condensed tomato paste. Deglaze the pan, scraping all the sticky good stuff off the bottom. If you have forgotten the brown sugar before this point, this is also a good time to add it. When the gravy has reduced by about 1/3, drain it off into the oven dish. Add hot water to cover the stew, stir everything together, and place in the centre of the oven.
Cook for as long as possible, preferably about 3 hours.
Serve with fresh bread and dumplings. Watch this space for that recipe at a later date. Good with a bold red wine, such as a Shiraz.