Boutique was once a word reserved for a place where a proper lady or the merrier of young gentlemen may be able to purchase perfume or a fashionable new handbag. Now, in these modern times we live in, boutique has become a word to describe the ever-growing number of small producers of meat, cheese, beer and things of the sort, and in equal capacity, also small hotels and guesthouses. In the Northern Rivers of New South Wales we are lucky enough to have many “boutique” producers of everything from meat to cheese to fruit and vegetables to bread to, well, even handbags for the more mature amongst us who are not embracing the current trends and require something a little more old school from the word. To get hold of a nice piece of pig or cow one need not look any further then the local farmer’s market or farm shop. Sunforest Organic Pork, Hayters Hill Beef or Cromwell Farms are but the tip of the proverbial iceberg or, if I may be so bold, the tip of the iceberg lettuce… or the cows teat… or the hipsters top knot… Whatever. Cromwell Farms, producers of old breed pork and Dexter beef, was the boutique purveyor of meats where this tasty tasty beef shin was acquired. Greg and Alison at Cromwell Farms hold regular pop-up farm shops where you can go and sample some of the produce being cooked by a local chef (yeah. It’s been me once or twice ☺) and purchase whatever it is you need to fill your home fridge and/or freezer. If per chance you do ever end up at a Cromwell Farms pop-up pork sale (maybe you wandered a little too far off the track after leaving the night club at 5am) do not, I repeat do not, leave with out a bag of bacon in your possession. Old breed pork smoked properly by Pat at the Clunes Butcher, it is amazeballs… and I don’t use that word lightly as I feel it makes me sound a little prattish. Back to the beef shin. I have said before that the secondary cuts of meat are my favourites and the beef shin certainly falls into this category. I have most definitely mentioned these cuts are a little easier on your back pocket. I have told you that if you give them a bit of love and some long and low cooking they pay you back ten fold in the flavour department. I can not force you to do anything but if I could by crikey it would be to go out and get a less favoured cut of meat, give it the love it deserves and see if that doesn’t change the way you think… but… well, I can’t fix stupid can I? Anyway, that story was nothing more than a premise as to where this beef shin came from on this one day… and I guess a little homage to the people who work so damn hard to make this available for the consumer or more importantly; just me. Also, worthy of note is this was a little almost cooking lesson with fellow bloggergeist and friend, Sam of Loving Lismore. We spent the afternoon cooking, sharing stories of strange carnie folk and one eyed goat herders and taking rightful care of the odd glass of three year old grape juice. Magic. Yep. Well done.
SLOW COOKED BEEF SHIN with CANNELLINI BEANS, TOMATO, GARLIC and HERBS (serves 6) 1 whole beef shin, 1kg ish 10 baby onions or eshallots (or 2 larger onions), peeled and quartered length ways 5 cloves garlic, chopped 2 punnets cherry or grape tomatoes, or a 400g tin of diced tomatoes will do the trick 2 400g tins cannellini beans 2 cups red wine 1 boquette garni of 1 bay leaf, 1 sprig rosemary and a few sprigs thyme A splash of olive oil Seasoning Salsa verde, crusty bread and a side or two to serve • Season the bejezuz out of that lump of meat. Rub it down with the massage, er, olive oil while you’re at it • Brown meat in an oven proof dish (or in a pan and then transfer to an over proof dish for baking) on the stove top • Once meat has some decent colour on it add onions and garlic and an extra splash of oil if it needs some lubricant, sauté until soft and fragrant • Deglaze with wine and add tomatoes and herbs. Cover and transfer to 170-180C oven for 3 hours or until meat is falling from grace… er, the bone… Covering the dish helps it steam a little from the inside, which in turn helps with the cooking process • Roll the meat over 1 hour into cooking, and then back one hour later. After the second turn it’s time to add the cannellini beans • When the meat is ready you will be able to push it from the bone with a spoon. If it is not ready after 3 hours put it back in for another halfa. Be patient. Do not eat it yet as it’s toughness will dishearten you and you will quite possibly end up naked in the foetal position in the corner of your bathroom… again • Pull the beef from the bone with tongs (or your bare hands if today is the day you make the world your bitch) and serve with salsa verde and your favourite sides. We had sweet potato mash and sautéed fennel, leek, cabbage and sauerkraut with a heap of butter because that’s what Sammy wanted • This is definitely one of those meals that needs to be washed down with a heap of red… a heap of red