Another Damn Fine Piece of Slow Cooked Beef Shin

slow roasted beef shin, dexter beef, northern rivers food nsw 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.

That piece of meat seasoned up and ready to hit the pan
That piece of meat seasoned up and ready to hit the pan
Sammy chops the onions
Sammy chops the onions
About to head into the oven
About to head into the oven
The beans go in and it can have another hour in the heat
The beans go in and it can have another hour in the heat

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

You do not need a knife if you have cooked it properly
You do not need a knife if you have cooked it properly

Salsa verde… a green sauce for steak and chicken and just about anything

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Salsa verde.

Literally translated this means green sauce. No mention of rocket science here so it kinda implies that even you’re going to be able to pull this one off! Also, with it’s literal name, the initials GS could also stand for “good shit”, as this is well and truly what salsa verde is – the good shit! On a less than interesting side note, GS is also my initials. What does that mean? Most certainly eff all I would say…

This is another one of those things that I have spoken about previously. Many times in fact, but as it was in the days when the viewing audience for this blog was literally four people and one small goat it received minimal notice and even minimal-er props. One effing like was the only respect that post received, which was just not a good enough result to make me happy. I may have let it slide at the time but really I had no choice – I had an audience of four people and a fucking goat for goodness sakes. Now I have at least double that amount of subscribers so I have decided it’s time to try again. I have blatantly pulled this little recipe from a post I wrote many, many months ago with absolutely no concern for the people that will point at me in the street and label me a slack, uncreative blahdy blahdy wah wah. Those people can lick things that aren’t an actual lollipop.

Salsa verde has more applications than the milk crate in student housing. Try these on for size;
• Sauce for the roast chicken I cooked last week, steak, pork, fish, all the meats really
• Dressing for a mixed grain, corn and kale salad
• Toss through pasta and top with parmesan for #easytastygood
• Use it to finish braised dishes like shanks or ox tail
• Spread it on grilled sour dough for herby bruschetta-y goodness
• Just put it on whatever. It’s really good

Herby goodness from 5 meters out the back door
Herby goodness from 5 meters out the back door

Blitzy blitzy
Blitzy blitzy

Serve it with everything
Serve it with everything

SALSA VERDE (green sauce)

2 cups each picked parsley, mint, basil and rocket (all from the back garden like a baws)
2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon capers and the vinegar they live in
1-2 anchovies, or not if you are vegetarian
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup light olive oil or something less fruity

• Blitz all ingredients except oil in a food processor or blender, or bash them in a mortar and pestle until they are a smooth paste
• Slowly add oil while still mixing to emulsify
• Season*
• Mmmm

*Seasoning in cooking is a biggie. It’s not one of those things you can “just not worry about”. It is quite often what separates the home kitchen from the commercial. Seasoning. Salt and pepper. Essential to heighten taste and enhance flavour. Get into the habit of checking your seasoning. Do it now!

Paul’s Caul… Back in Britain

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Back in Britain

The time has finally arrived for Lauren and I to make the long journey home to my Motherland, my birthplace and a magical place that over the last 23 years I have build up in my mind as a place where all of my fondest memories live and skip around holding hands with chocolate bars and packets of walkers crisps. Yes I’m speaking of England, and yes in my dreams packaged treats have arms and legs, so what! Its my dreams so step off or I’ll let my army of small highland toffee attack you with axes and bagpipes… back to reality and that is what happened the second I landed back in England.

We arrived at Heathrow on a Tuesday morning at 11.45, now this bit of information actually holds no relevance at all so please forget it as quickly as you read it… we had an amazing flight on Emirates, shit loads of leg room, massive screen to watch an impressive array of movies and some pretty tasty food I must say. The food included pulled Texas beef with black bean, quinoa salad with chickpea and a very delicious breakfast with a chicken sausage and frittata, but as you would expect no pork in sight, but as I always say “when in Rome” or more accurately “when on a Muslim airline” but without a doubt it was the best service, flight and food we have experienced, so Allah be praised!

Pork pie love
Pork pie love

My cousin picked us up with his beautiful daughter Rebecca and proceeded to drive around in circles until he felt we had seen Heathrow airport in full, we had so he swiftly drove us 40 minutes away to a small village called Chipperfield where we were staying in a quintessential English pub. Now what is a quintessential English pub and when did I start using such big words? These are the burning questions on everyone’s mind… I shall answer this in a two-part answer firstly to answer the later question, get fucked! Now lets talk about what I think makes an English pub…

• Upon arrival in said pub if you don’t have to duck down to enter it either isn’t a real English pub or you aren’t over 6ft tall
• If every single room in the building other than your bedroom doesn’t have a fireplace, then your not in an English pub
• Glance at the menu and if you cant see at least one ale pie then leg it, as you ain’t in the real deal
• If more than two staff members are English then leave as you are in the wrong country
• Finally make sure that nothing and I mean nothing at all is new, and then I feel comfortable with the fact you are standing in an authentic English Pub.

‘The Two brewers’ was all the above and more, it had Marmite portions on the breakfast buffet which was a highlight of the week for me, they had Aspall cider on tap and they served baked wheels of Camembert (which appeased Laurens veracious appetite for fromage). It was located in a quaint village which offered a nice walk around a small wooded area and… actually that is all it offered, but regardless of it lack of anything, it was brilliant to be back on home soil (or clay like mud as it was).
My memories of childhood chocolate treats were a little shattered as this country much like the entire world had become Americanised, but I still managed to get some Irn Bru, a toffee crisp and some mini cheddars (branston pickle flavour) which definitely hit the spot and most likely will bring on diabetes in some form, but well worth it.

Street pig
Street pig

Now what about pork you say? Good point, what would travelling be without seeing what different countries do with the magical creature we call Pig. Well this is the place for you my non-Islamic brothers, they effing love the stuff here,. They sell bacon rolls in just about every shop; newsagents sell them, café’s sell them, small stands/vans on the road sell them, I’m pretty sure they deliver them like papers straight to your door in the morning. I kid you not, they eat them like apples over here. There are bacon roll bowls on the kitchen bench and they are served with coffee instead of those ridiculously small biscuits… And this is just bacon. What they also do with pork will blow you mind, that is unless you’ve already seen a pork pie, in which case it may not even excite you. If this is the case stop reading now and never revisit this site ever… Good. All we left are the true pork pie loving people of this world who love the soft yet crunchy pastry made with lard and the salty jelly surrounding the blend of pork shoulder, pork belly and bacon cooked with mace and seasoned with the history of a nation that was built on such products.

Don’t get me wrong, you can get pork pies in Australia, but unless my good friend Gavin the Jordie pastry chef extraordinaire makes it then it will be pretty average. If you are in Perth go to the ‘Moon and Sixpence’ pub in the city and order the ploughman’s, as Gav has the pork pie well sorted as well as many other English treats… but I digress, what I love about here is that every second shop sells pork pies and as a whole they are delicious with the pastry being the major difference between a decent pie and a “fuck off that pie was the balls” kind of pie.

Bacon chips and beer… life just keeps getting better
Bacon chips and beer… life just keeps getting better

Other than delicious pork products I was uber excited to be back home so I could see my family, we were staying in Chipperfield purely because my Uncle and Auntie live in the town that is 5 minutes down the road, also their kids (my cousin’s) and their families all live close. We were given the royal treatment and taken out many times in the one week, really getting to sample a cross section of British food from awarded British pub food which was beyond what I expected to get from a pub in the middle of nowhere, to a nice night in with my cousins eating England’s national meal (curry) then finishing the week with Chinese (English style, which is a lot of battered meat with sweet sauce) with my other cousin and her lovely family and finally the tradition that is the Sunday roast with the family.

We choose to have our Sunday roast at a French Brassiere (Raymond Blanc’s restaurant) because they do a cracking roast with big fuck off Yorkshire puddings and bread and butter pudding for dessert (or pudding as it is over here) and lets face it, Waterloo was a long time ago so lets give those cheese eating surrender monkeys another go… well it was a triumph, the company which included two beautiful little cousins and their parents as well as my uncle and Lauren made the day very special, and I think horseradish is the best condiment for company.

Lauren (the pretty half of the Paul and Lauren crew). Somewhere with some other people taking photos
Lauren (the pretty half of team Paul and Lauren). Somewhere with some other people taking photos

We are now in Birmingham visiting some good friends Dom and Alec plus their awesome boys Francis and Jack that have just moved back from Perth where they were for a few year’s, one of our favourite bits of this trip has been catching up with friends old and new. We love getting to be part of a family for a week, cooking, drinking and having a laugh with the kid’s, we are so lucky to such great friends all over the world. And contrary to public opinion we are having a lovely time in Birmingham, so be it we go for runs in the morning around the canal wrapped up like crazy homeless people, but that just adds to the charm. We are very excited to be getting a Balti Curry from number 3 on the UK’s top takeaway joints… Balti curry was actually invented here in Birmingham by the local Pakistani community (that I believe is larger than the one in Pakistan). So needless to say we cannot wait for culinary curry cuisine served by the peeps that created and perfected the Balti curry.

I off course have been exploring local supermarkets and cooking up regular feasts for all that are lovely enough to put up with us. The supermarkets here do seem to have a larger range of many things that I love, for instance you can get rabbit, duck, venison and black pudding from Sainsbury’s, this pleases me greatly. I cooked a banging braised beef with Stilton penne last night and here is the recipe.

Marmite love
Marmite love

BRAISED BEEF with STILTON and PENNE

500g gravy beef (shin meat), left whole and sealed in a pan
1 onion
2 sticks celery
1 leek
1 fennel bulb
1 carrot
• Cut all above veg into small dice and fry off in pan of meat juices after the meat has been sealed
• Add 1 tablespoon cumin seeds and fry
• Add 1 cup of red wine, 1 tablespoon smoked paprika, 2 bays leaves and a handful of fresh thyme (be generous)
• In a large oven dish with sides, place meat down first then pour veg and wine mixture over top. Add 1 tin of chopped tomatoes and 1 cup of beef stock
• Cover with lid or with tin foil and bake @ 120c for 5-6 hours until the meat just falls apart when pushed with a spoon

At this point you could serve straight onto some mash, but I spooned all the meat into a beef braise and added some cooked green beans cut into small lengths, whacked in a handful of stilton, some spinach, chives and a whole lot of cooked penne and chucked it into bowls with a fork sticking out… then stood back and marvelled at what I had created like a proud father.

Next off we travel down to Gloucester to spend some time with Kev and Sue. We have never actually meet these lovely people but as they are my sister and husbands friends I just know that the week will be filled with laughter, wine, food and most likely more wine followed by a little more laughter… god I love travelling and more accurately I love eating and drinking with amazing people.

Jennee’s Sunday Spread… Braised beef to warm our bellies

Dodgy photo #1
Dodgy photo #1

It has got cold here very quickly over the last few days. After an absolutely cracking Summer this year, it seems those warm days have finally left us, headed to the proverbial greener pastures. Somewhere like Hawaii or Tahiti no doubt. But it’s not like winter has sucker punched us in the face either. There’s no rain – not a drop. The nights are just plain cold but the days are still sunny just like a very sunny day. Those days are just trying to trick us though, as they are bleakly contrasted with a biting mofo of a cold wind that I can only deduce has made it’s way up from the icy tundra’s of Antarctica… possibly by way of a secret under ground tunnel so as not to attract attention. The sun is like the hot woman and the wind is like the icy cold shoulder she gives you when you get into bed… very, very ungratifying. Back to the chill; This chill is lazy. Nary will it take the time to go around you, but instead goes straight through you just like the lazy bitch of a chill it is. This is officially baby making weather… and now sports. Over to you Brian… Brian? Whoops, flashbacks from my days as news anchor on the local carnival community access TV station…

So to compensate for the lack of warmth in the air, Jennee braised some beef to put warmth in our bellies… I told her I was more than happy to put warmth in her belly by other means, but she said that was disgusting and not fit for print… baby making weather indeed.

Keep in mind this is not just a recipe for braised beef. It is a great base for any type of braised meat you could think of; pork shoulder, lamb neck, ox tail, beef or pork cheek, chicken marylands or even mushrooms or potatoes if your not into the meatier side of things. Just tell your brain to think secondary cuts. The cheap stuff that needs a long time to cook and inadvertently fills your house with the sweet, sweet smell of success. This is what winter is all about baby!

Thesmellofwintercookingisthebestshitever.

Dodgy photo #2
Dodgy photo #2
Dodgy photo #3
Dodgy photo #3

BRAISED SOMETHING TO WARM THE BELLY
800g beef chuck or blade, dusted with seasoned flour
2 brown onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup sherry or red wine
4 bay leaves (thyme or rosemary also finds a happy home in shit like this)
• In an oiled casserole pot fry off onion, carrot, celery and garlic
• Remove from pot, add a splash more oil, and then brown beef
• Remove beef and deglaze pot with sherry or other booze
• Add vegies and beef back into pan, add bay leaves and stock/water (a tin of tomatoes could also go in there now if you feel the calling) to cover. Stick it in 180C oven with lid on for 2 hours
• Serve with yum

And sorry about the shitty photos. Just sorry.