Last week we had a family get together. Four generations, variously meat eating and vegetarian, to celebrate a birthday or two. The House of Happiness (for that is us) were tasked with bringing the meat-eaters’ dish.
Naturally I wanted to make something that was unambiguously meaty – no messing with foul or game – and nothing that could end up being tough or gristly. And absolutely no over-the-top spices or exotic additions that could surprise or horrify the more conservative palete.
So I plumbed for slow-cooker beef with dumplings served with a side of mashed potatoes – and lots and lots of it. In fact I had so many ingredients I had to go and get a great big massive pot to cook it in:
Slower Cooker Beef with Dumplings Ingredients
- Three beef cheeks (yes cheeks – they are tough as old boots but cook them for 3 to 4 hours and they fall to bits!)
- Two oxtail chunks
- Ten shallots
- Two large leeks
- Four or five carrots
- Half a swede
- Six or seven large flat mushrooms
- A big bunch of thyme
- A big bunch of flat leaf parsley
- 3/4 bottle of red wine
- 3/4 bottle of stout
- 1 pint beef stock
- 3 tbps of tomato puree
- Seasoned flour
- Olive oil
Cut the cheeks into large chunks:
Heat the oil and butter in the enormous ceramic pot, dredge the meat in the flour and then fry in batches including the oxtail:
Drain the meat and set aside:
Now add the carrot, whole shallots and chopped up swede and cook for 5 minutes. Add the leek and cook for a few minutes more:
Now add the meat back in:
Add the chopped mushrooms and then add the stock, stout and wine:
Now add the tomato paste and the herbage:
Cover and cook at 140 centigrade for 3 hours or more. Meanwhile get the mashed potato ready. Get a big bag of spuds with daft packaging:
Boil the lot in a lovely big shiny pan:
Once tender, drain and add a half pint of cream, a load of chopped up butter and lots of salt and pepper:
Now mash up and then kind of cream so the mash has no lumpy bits:
Back to the meaty stuff. How’s it looking?
Its getting there but we need to get to that family gathering. So everything is tied up with string, stuck in the boot of the car and off we go.
Upon arrival I made the dumplings with beef suet, self-raising flour and water and then popped them on top of the dish and back into the oven for another hour or so:
Meanwhile I had a look at what the vegetarians were having:
Tagine, with couscous and haloumi and I’ve got to say no one would have missed the beef! With competition for oven space coming to a head we had to move quickly. Serving began:
That haloumi cheese was really something though….
Now this being a birthday celebration other things were on offer. For example, sweets from the States:
and a delicious chocolate birthday cake….
The only problem was the huge amount of food on display meant I had quite a lot of beef left…
…but I’m sure I will think of something to do with it…