Slow feast­ing

A lazy lunch à la française

The Guardian - Cook - - Front Page - Henry Dim­bleby & Jane Bax­ter

Clas­si­cal cooking, where mul­ti­ple steps are re­quired to cre­ate lus­trous sauces with com­plex flavours, is out of fash­ion. But there are dishes that can­not be done bet­ter any other way, and slow-cooked beef is one.

If I were forced to choose a last supper, it would be beef cooked like this – served in a silky sauce and so soft you can cut it with a spoon. I was in­tro­duced to it in Paris by Bambi Sloan, who helped dec­o­rate our early Leon restau­rants. (She’s French. She’s an in­te­rior designer. It’s her real name.) The beef was ox cheek. It came to the ta­ble in the cooking dish, along­side a bowl of smooth mash. We spooned both on to our plates and swooned.

The se­cret is to strain the veg­eta­bles af­ter they have been cooked to leave you with a lux­u­ri­ant sauce, and to use a cut of meat with plenty of con­nec­tive tis­sue. Dur­ing the slow cooking, this breaks down and makes the meat suc­cu­lent – al­most gooey.

In to­day’s recipe, Jane has com­bined the beef with an equally smooth parsnip puree, some gre­mo­lata to give it zing, and sea­sonal cau­li­flower and pur­ple sprout­ing broc­coli for crunch.

Braised feather blade

Feather blade is a cheaper cut of beef from the shoul­der of the an­i­mal. The top part of it is some­times sold un­der the Amer­i­can name, flat iron steak. But be warned: it will have been care­fully trimmed of all the sinewy bits that, when cooked for a long time, make this recipe so de­li­cious. It will also be much more ex­pen­sive.

Serves 4 -6

1-1.5kg whole feather blade(s) 1 tbsp sea­soned flour 1 tbsp but­ter 1 tbsp olive oil 2 onions, sliced 1 car­rot, sliced 1 slice swede, roughly chopped 3 gar­lic cloves, crushed 1 sprig rose­mary 2 bay leaves 250ml red wine 50ml red wine vine­gar 700ml chicken/beef stock

1 Pre­heat the oven to 140C/275F/ gas mark 1. Dust the beef with the sea­soned flour.

2 Heat the but­ter and oil in a large fry­ing pan. Brown the meat well on all sides and re­move from the pan.

3 Add the veg to the pan and brown for 5 min­utes over a medium heat. Stir in the gar­lic and herbs and cook for a minute. Deglaze the pan (scrape the bits off the bot­tom) with the red wine, vine­gar and stock. Bring to the boil.

4 Trans­fer the meat to an oven-proof casse­role, then tip over the stock and veg. Sea­son well. Cover tightly and place in the oven for about 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours or un­til the beef is ten­der.

5 When cooked, re­move the meat from the stock and set to one side in a con­tainer that will fit in your fridge. Strain this in a sieve (push­ing the softer veg­eta­bles through to thicken it) and pour it over the meat. Al­low to cool and leave in the fridge un­til needed.

To fin­ish

400g chest­nut mush­rooms, quar­tered (you can use but­ton mush­rooms) 1 tbsp olive oil 1 tbsp but­ter The strained beef stock 1 tbsp English mus­tard

For the gre­mo­lata

2 tbsp finely chopped pars­ley Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated 1 gar­lic clove, very finely chopped Salt and black pep­per

1 Take the beef out of the stock. Cut it across the grain into 1-2cm thick slices.

2 In a large fry­ing pan, heat the oil and but­ter un­til hot, then saute the mush­rooms for a few min­utes un­til golden brown and ten­der. Sea­son well.

3 Re­move the mush­rooms from the pan. Add the beef stock and the mus­tard to the pan. Whisk to­gether and bring to the boil for as long as needed to re­duce the sauce to the de­sired thick­ness.

4 Add the mush­rooms and beef to the sauce. Sim­mer gen­tly for a few min­utes to heat through. Sea­son if re­quired.

5 Com­bine the pars­ley with the lemon zest and gar­lic to make gre­mo­lata, and sprin­kle over the beef be­fore serv­ing.

Creamed parsnip

Serves 4-6

750g parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced 350ml milk 2 gar­lic cloves, crushed Juice of 1 lemon 30g ground al­monds 70ml olive oil Salt and black pep­per

1 Place in a pan with the milk and bring to the boil. Sim­mer for about 20 min­utes, or un­til the parsnips are soft.

2 Drain well and trans­fer to a food pro­ces­sor. Add the gar­lic, lemon and al­monds. Blitz and slowly add the olive oil un­til you have a puree. Sea­son well and serve.

Roast cau­li­flower and pur­ple sprout­ing broc­coli with wal­nut-tar­ragon dress­ing

Serves 4-6

1 small cau­li­flower 1 tbsp olive oil 300g pur­ple sprout­ing broc­coli

For the dress­ing

½ gar­lic clove, crushed to a paste 2 tsp chopped tar­ragon 1 tbsp cider vine­gar 1 tsp maple syrup 2 tbsp rape­seed oil 1 tbsp wal­nut oil 50g toasted wal­nuts, crushed Salt and black pep­per

1 Pre­heat the oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3. Break the cau­li­flower into small flo­rets. Toss in the olive oil and sea­son well. Place on a bak­ing tray in a medium oven for about 20 min­utes or un­til ten­der and slightly browned.

2 Make the dress­ing by blend­ing all the in­gre­di­ents to­gether with half the wal­nuts – use a stick blen­der or whisk.

3 Trim the broc­coli and blanch in boil­ing salted wa­ter for 3 min­utes un­til ten­der. Drain well. Toss with the cau­li­flower and the dress­ing. Sprin­kle with ex­tra wal­nuts.

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