Eating is a necessity, but cooking truly is an art. With the busy lives we lead nowadays, trying to keep up with never-ending life goals means that a lot of us find it hard to dish out delicious meals after a hard day’s work in the rat race.
But the good news is that not every amazingly scrumptious dish takes an insanely long time to prepare. The thought of spending hours in the kitchen slaving over food after an honest day’s work, leaves most of us deflated, frazzled and drinking the wine we should actually be cooking with. Sometimes, all you need are good quality ingredients, and a trusted slow cooker followed by a hearty appetite with enchanting family or dinner guests.
Today’s alternative Friday night dinner recipe is just that. It’s perfect for you and your loved one(s), a big family gathering, and even the Friday night before a wedding celebration as the recipe actually allows you to spend plenty of time with your family, friends and guests. The slow cooker takes on the brunt of the work involved, making it the perfect end-of-the-week recipe.
This is the third in our monthly series of brilliant Friday night recipes. If you missed Mark’s earlier culinary delights, they’re right here.
Beef Stew with jasmine rice
“Have you got beef with me?!”
I truly hope so… After my last two Friday night recipes, I would expect no less! If you don’t currently have beef (in the fridge), your feet should be moving towards your nearest butcher right now, as if you enjoyed twizzling your fork into ribbons of steaming pasta with lashings of meaty sauce last month, you will indisputably be impressed by this melt-in-your-mouth beef in a luscious, ossobuco-style stew, cooked lovingly with your own fair hands (or more accurately – by your slow cooker).
- 1.5kg shin of beef
- 1 small jar of sun dried tomato sauce/paste/concentrate
- 1 tablespoon of muscovado sugar (any sugar will do if you don’t have muscovado)
- 1/2 bottle of any red wine
- 5 chopped carrots
- 5 – 10 bay leaves
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt
- 2 cups of jasmine rice
- Blanched almonds
- Jumbo raisins
- Olive oil
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 4 hours
For the beef: Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees celsius. Place your shin of beef in a large enough roasting tray, and cover with a little extra virgin olive oil. Rub some salt into the meat and scatter the bay leaves around the tray for those wonderful aromatic flavours. Place into the oven, remove after five minutes and discard the juices. Put all the ingredients into your slow cooker (or an ovenproof casserole or saucepan), and add the rest of your ingredients.
If you prefer a rich flavour to your meat, experiment by using a generous amount of wine. Add enough water to your slow cooker/dish, so that the liquid surrounding the meat covers at least half of it. Grind in some fresh peppercorns and cover to start the cooking process in your slow cooker on low heat (approx. 150 degrees celsius). If you are using an Aga or oven, ensure you cover your casserole dish to allow the meat to braise thoroughly.
This next part is simply the best part of the recipe for all you busy bees out there — simply forget about your cooking master creation for the next four hours. If you are really keen, I strongly recommend you take the dish out half way through the cooking time, and turn the shin of beef upside down, and cover with the meaty gravy in the making. It is not recommended to leave your home if you are using an oven or slow cooker, due to possible fire hazards (no insurance company would cover you if, G-d forbid, something caught alight whilst you are out of your house). If you are the fortunate owner of an Aga, you are fine to leave your house of course without developing a nervous twitch whilst out continuously wondering if your house has started smoking yet.
If after four hours, the meat does not fall off the bone yet, leave it to cook for an extra hour. Time will only improve this dish, and the required cooking time always depends on the size of beef shin, the quality of meat, as well as the heat of your oven, slow cooker or Aga. Never leave yourself short of time, just in case it needs that extra hour. Once you are happy with the tenderness of the meat, simply turn off your oven (or slow cooker), and leave it to rest. It will easily stay hot for a couple of hours and you can always reheat it on the Shabbos hot plate.
A hearty beef stew is best served with either potatoes, rice or for a healthy option, a colourful salad. My Shabbat beef stew recipe includes a delicious Israeli rice dish recipe, which my good friend Einav was kind enough to share with me. (Okay, she did not really have a choice, as I was incredibly persistent in wanting to know the ins and outs of every grain of rice):
For the rice: Place a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan. When warmed through, add the rice and mix thoroughly. Add two tablespoons of salt, four cups of water, cover and leave to simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Once all the water is absorbed, leave to rest for 15 minutes or so.
Pour olive oil in a separate frying pan, and once hot, add the almonds and fry. Once these start turning brown, you need to add your raisins. Keep your pan on the heat until the raisins expand. Then take your frying pan off the heat, scoop out the nuts and raisins from your pan into a bowl (without the oil from the bottom of your frying pan) and add a nice amount of honey.
Place strong cling film over the top of your bowl and shake to cover everything liberally with the honey you just added. Leave the nuts & raisins to cool down. When you are ready to serve, simply add the honey glazed nut and raisin mixture onto your cooked rice. Serve next to generous ladles of steaming, delicious, dreamy conversation-halting(-for-all-the-right-reasons) beef stew, so that your dinner guests may appreciate the sweetness the honey covered raisins and nuts give the rice.
Surely, all of this was very much worth the hurried trip to the butchers? And here’s a guiding thought to all you fiancà©s out there…
Girls love food.
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Recipe and images by Mark Frankel. Words by Maya Hartge. Header image: Michael Wachniak Photography
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