As I have mentioned several times on this blog, I am not really well versed in different cuts of meat, so I was really interested in a test cook report from the lovely Gaye Fisher who is a fellow Bread Angel.  Gaye is the proprietor of Sticky Mitts in Surrey

and won a couple of prizes at this year’s World Bread Awards, so as you will see, she really knows her stuff in the kitchen!  Here’s Gaye’s report on Patrick’s recipe.  Like one of my other test cooks, Neil Owen, Gaye admits that she didn’t stick to the recipe (she never does she says!), oh how I wish I had such confidence.

Over to Gaye…

I substituted Rump Skirt (not to be confused with Goose Skirt) instead of boneless rump pot roast. Skirt is my favourite cut for slow-cooked dishes. It is wonderfully lean and tender.

I then prepared the dish in the following way.

Didn’t flour the meat before frying because it leaves a residue in the pan which I don’t like
Sautéed the vegetables separately. Started with the onions and cooked these very slowly until completely soft (this releases the natural sugars), then I sautéed the garlic briefly (it burns easily and can impart a bitter taste to the dish).

Sauteed the leeks, carrots, and celery until they coloured a little and removed them.  Sautéed the bacon bits until they started to brown and removed them.  Sautéed the cubes of meat in batches until brown on all sides and removed them.  Poured in ½ bottle Beaujolais, deglazed the pan and reduced this by half.  Added 400ml Demi-Glace from Waitrose (a nice thick meaty stock).  Finally combined everything together with the herbs and a tiny piece of red chilli (deseeded). This wasn’t listed as an ingredient but I find it adds a lovely warmth to a stew.

I pretty much ignored the temperature and timings. I simmered the ragout very slowly until the meat was starting to become tender. Then I added the little onions. (A tip for peeling little onions would have been helpful i.e. covering with boiling water for a few minutes to soften the skin).

Finally, I sautéed the button mushrooms in butter and added these to the pot. The liquid had reduced a fair bit but I wanted it thicker so I added a small amount of beurre manié (softened butter mixed with flour).

Served with creamy mashed potato and sautéed cabbage. Delish!

I shared the meal with my husband and we both enjoyed it. There was some leftover gravy which we gave to our dog Brody but he turned his nose up at it. Clearly no gourmet!

THANKS GAYE!  The last bit did make me laugh! This is all really useful feedback and I love the tip about peeling the little onions.  Next time I make this I will definitely use Rump Skirt.  I like the idea of asking the butcher for that!

Here’s Patrick’s recipe, which is loooooooong but good.  Hearty winter fodder!

Patrick O’Neal’s Ragout de Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef Stew in Red Wine)

5 lbs / 2250g lean boneless rump pot roast cut into 1-inch cubes

Seasoned flour

2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or butter)

1 lb / 450g piece lean bacon, cut into strips, 1/4 inch thick by 1 inch [I use pancetta]

4 leeks, chopped (white part only)

4 onions peeled and coarsely chopped 

2 cloves garlic, crushed

3 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped

Large handful of parsley, washed and coarsely chopped

3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped

Bouquet garni, tied in a cheesecloth bag (large bay leaf, large pinch thyme, 7 bruised peppercorns)

1 bottle Beaujolais (or high quality dry red wine)

2 dozen pearl onions, peeled

1 lb / 450g fresh, button mushrooms, stemmed and cleaned

1.5 teaspoons sweet/unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F / 190 degrees C / gas mark 5.

Dredge meat cubes in seasoned flour; brown meat on all sides in vegetable oil (or butter); set aside.  Half fry bacon strips over medium heat in Dutch oven / ovenproof casserole dish; pour off excess fat.  Add chopped vegetables (leeks, onions, garlic, carrots, parsley, and celery); cook over medium heat until vegetables are transparent.  Add bouquet garni, 1.5 teaspoons salt, black pepper to taste and wine.  Bring to simmer; correct seasonings.  Cover, place in oven, cook for one hour.  

Add pearl onions, re-cover, cook about 1 & 1/2 hours longer (or until meat is fork tender).  Meanwhile, slowly brown mushrooms in sweet butter, and add these to stew during last few minutes of cooking.  Remove cover to allow moisture to evaporate and sauce to thicken during last half an hour of cooking.  Baste meat and vegetables several times.  To serve, remove bouquet garni, adjust seasonings, and reduce the sauce if necessary by cooking rapidly over high heat.  Serve the stew in its cooking dish (or arrange the meat and vegetables on a heated platter) with parsley-buttered new potatoes (or noodles) and pass the sauce.  

Serves 12 – 16


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