Neil Perry’s Beef Braised with Guinness

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Such a great cook book. Everything is a success.

Serves: 4 – 6 with a good dollop of champ or parmesan polenta

My favourite cookbook is Neil Perry’s The Food I Love. I’ve had it for years and have cooked so much from it.

The first recipe from it – years and years back – to christen a new Le Creuset pot was this beautiful braise. Since then, it is one of the first recipes I cook when the colder part of the year starts; that afternoon where you notice the chill and put on a good jumper.

It really does put a smile on your face as you snuggle up with a glass of red, a good serving of champ and some beans. Put on a movie, dim the lights and look forward to the coming months filled with meals like this.

Ingredients

1 kg beef shin, cut into 2cm cubes
Sea salt
1/3 c extra virgin olive oil, plus extra
2 fresh bay leaves
1 medium brown onion, chopped into 2cm cubes
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 2cm lengths
1 medium leek, white part only, cut into 2cm lengths
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 thyme sprigs
1c (250ml) Guinness (yes there is some left over and yes you should drink it – it’s cold!)
Freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Method

  1. Remove the beef from the fridge an hour before cooking and season with sea salt.
  2. Put olive oil and bay leave sin a heavy-based saucepan with a tight-fitting lid over a high-heat. When hot, add half the beef and brown all over. Remove and repeat with the remaining beef.
  3. If need be, add a little more oil to the pan and add the onion to the pan and cook for 10 minutes over a gentle heat.
  4. Return the beef to the pan and add the carrot, leek, garlic, thyme Guinness and 1 cup of water. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for about 1 ½ hours. Remove the lid and cook for another 30 minutes or until the beef is tender and you’ve reached the right consistency.
  5. Remove the bay leaves and thyme and season with pepper. Serve sprinkled with the parsley.

Neil Perry’s Pan-fried Polenta

Serves 4

If you cook this and serve it with a roast or a braise, it will replace mash as your go-to side. Hands down, money on it.

It is a Neil Perry dish (tick) and it continues (as far as I know) to be served in Qantas First and Business Class (tick). It can be prepared beforehand (tick) and people’s eyes light up when they taste it (tick).

It’s creamy, it tastes great, it sops up all the juices on the plate and it can be reheated the next day.

Tick tick tick.

None of us cook enough polenta. This dish will resolve that for you.

Ingredients

2/3 cup (100g) polenta
1 1/2 cups (375ml) milk
1 cup (250ml) chicken stock
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup (50g) finely grated Parmesan
50g unsalted butter, chopped well
Freshly ground pepper
Extra virgin oil

Method

  1. Lightly grease a rectangular baking tin (or small baking dish as I did). Line the tin with baking paper.
  2. Bring the milk, stock and sea salt to scalding point (just below boiling point) in a large saucepan.
  3. Gradually shower the polenta into the milk mixture, stirring continuously with a whisk.
  4. Simmer, still stirring for about 40 minutes, or until the polenta is very thick and pulls cleanly away from the side of the pan.
  5. Remove from the heat, stir in the parmesean, butter, salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Spread the polenta immediately into the tin and allow to cool slightly. Cover and refrigerate for about 3 hours, or until firm.
  7. Run a sharp knife around the edges of the tin and gently turn out the polenta. Cut into eight slices thick.
  8. Quickly pan-fry the polenta slices in a little olive oil on both sides until lightly browned.

Neil Perry’s Warm Squid Salad

Serves: 4 as a share plate

It is after numbers like this one that you wonder why you don’t cook more squid! And if you don’t trust me, you have to trust that pretty much anything Neil Perry cooks is going to be wonderful.

It is an incredibly easy dish to do, it takes no time to prep and cook and it’s healthy sans the loaf of bread which unfortunately, is not optional!

The key to it all is to cook the different ingredients as fast as possible! And preferably, with the two of you cooking; it’s a fast-faced, hands-on, let’s both be rewarded sort of experience.

Enjoy.

Ingredients

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 medium Spanish Onion roughly sliced
3 garlic, sliced
2 fresh Bay leaves finely sliced
Sweet Sherry
4 medium Squid Tubes sliced 2cm thick
4 Tomatoes blanched, quartered, peeled and de-seeded
½ bunch Parsley picked
Sea salt
Freshly Ground black Pepper to taste
2 Lemons juiced
Rustic loaf of bread to sop up sauce

Method

  1. Heat a little extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan to very hot. Add the onion, garlic and bay leaf and fry quickly.
  2. Add the sweet sherry, toss around and allow the alcohol to burn off as it quickly reduces.
  3. Add the sliced squid. Toss through for about 30 seconds
  4. Add the tomato quarters, parsley, salt and pepper.
  5. Finish with the lemon juice, a dash of extra virgin olive oil and a grind of pepper.

Neil Perry’s ‘Hamburger’

Serves 4

Whilst the 2013/2014/2015 Sydney hamburger craze will probably go the direction of the 2013/2014/2015 Sydney dumpling craze, for me at least, it has given me cause to reconsider the roots of a good – a great burger – and what it is all about.

Because if you have a burger at Chur Burger, or Neil Perry’s Burger Project or Sean Connolly’s Parlour Burger (with the one-day viral wonder, the Black Widow Burger), their core burger is about simplicity and quality of ingredient.

And that is perhaps where I have gone astray.

For years, my signature burger dish has been about two things:

  1. The paddy:
    1. 1kg Beef Mince
    1. 1 egg
    1. (Red) online, diced
    1. Handful of parsley, chopped
    1. A number of really good splashes of Worcestershire Sauce (and therefore the flavour)
    1. A heaped teaspoon of Horseradish
    1. Seasoning
  2. The balance:Grilled (BBQ) slices of white toast
    1. Torn cos lettuce
    1. Sliced tomato
    1. Sliced cheddar cheese to melt on the BBQed paddies
    1. Ketchup (not tomato sauce), good egg mayo and American Mustard

And whilst, if really flame grilled over a high heat and served medium-rare, this is a cracker burger, it isn’t the essence of burger. It is like customising mac and cheese when the purity of proper mac and cheese needs no improvement. It is like adding bacon to a Big Mac. There isn’t necessarily a need.

Worst still, I was using crappy mince from the supermarket. And the mince is where the flavour is!

Indeed, reflecting back on all the burgers I have cooked over the years – including the Tuscan Burger than won me a gong at a Wiliam food day – they have all been about stuffing ingredients into the patty. And using crudolla mince.

This burger recipe by Neil Perry is your classic mac and cheese. It will surprise nobody except that freshness of the meat makes the difference. Here, you MUST instruct your butcher to find his finest, most marbled piece of chuck steak. And then to grind it, fresh, on his coarsest setting.

At which point, you need to sprint home to cook it.

Get back to basics, invest in the meat, buy some really good buns (not that crap at Woolies), open a Corona with some lime and eat this bad boy in the sun. Seriously, this is good!

Oh, and if you can BBQ your buns and especially bacon on the BBQ as well, the taste simply gets even better by a factor of 10: Neil Perry says so himself!

I have slightly adjusted his recipe.

Ingredients

1kg of freshly ground chuck steak
½ – ¾ tsp sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil
4 hamburger buns, split and toasted (ideally grilled on the BBQ)
Ketchup, American Mustard and egg mayonnaise
4 slices gruyere (or sliced cheddar if gruyere not on tap)
8 rashes of good bacon
Lettuce and tomato slices
Sliced, picked cucumber (optional)
Freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. The bacon needs to be really, really crispy and this will take time. Depending on timings, start cooking the bacon in a pan or prepare it ready for the BBQ, ensuring that in either event, it is cooked to the point of snapping in two.
  2. Place the meat in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Mix gentle and divide into 4. Move each portion between your hands for a minute to make a firm, though not overworked patty. Shape into a ball. Gently flatten to form patties around 3cm thick. (If you are refrigerating, cover in cling wrap and ensure that they are bought back to room temperature prior to cooking).
  3. Heat your BBQ (or pan) to very hot. Grill the burger for 2 minutes on one side, flip and another 3 minutes, placing a slice of cheese on top of each paddy for the final minute of cooking. Let the patties rest for 5 minutes and whilst doing so, grill your buns, taking note of your bacon depending on however you are cooking it.
  4. Assemble your bad boy; bottom of bun, mayo and mustard, patty, lettuce and tomato, bacon, ketchup, grind of pepper, top of bun.
  5. Close your eyes and eat.