Mulled Wine

Serves: 4

A simple question to ask a prospective friend: “Mulled wine?”

Because if the answer is ‘yes’, you have a friend.

Because mulled wine is also your friend.

It’s the acceptance that wine is great though worthy of a reboot from time to time. That wine isn’t the end-point and really just part of the heavy-lifting.

It’s winter and we are all bored.

Get the music cranking, mix up a batch of this wine and toast the best part of winter.

Nat and I did.

Ingredients

10 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
¼ cup caster sugar
1 roughly grated nutmeg
2 cups water
Roughly grated rind of 1 orange
1 apple, roughly chopped, skin on
750ml (1 bottle) fruity red wine such as merlot

Method

  1. Don’t drink the wine yet.
  2. Heat cloves, cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, water, orange rind and apple in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add red wine and simmer for another 5 minutes. Strain and serve.
  4. Again and again and again.

Pot-roast beef with salsa verde

Serves: 6

This is a freight train of a dish and in a good way.

Bottle of red wine; a kilo of steak, salsa verde; plenty of cooking time.

The result is so inevitably luxurious and warm, though like a freight train, not particularly unapologetic. You get out what you put in and what you get out is a rich, silken, winter stew that would belt the shit out of anything that came close to it.

Next day at work, the concentration of flavour doubled and before I had it in the microwave, a friend commented; afterwards, it was almost awkward. People don’t eat rich stews and potatoes for lunch on a Monday and the fact they are is beyond words.

11/10.

And here is the best part.

I didn’t cook it.

Nat did. On a Monday. Before I got home from work.

As if salsa verde wasn’t enough sprinkled on top (cutting through the richness), I didn’t have to lift a finger until it was served.

Try this one cold night this winter and revel in it.

Excuse my language, though it is a finger to winter and a bloody effective one at that.

Brilliant! And thank you Nat.

Sunday on a Monday!

Ingredients

Stew

750ml bottle good quality red wine (Seriously!)
1 kg skirt steak, cut into 3cm pieces
2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf (or 2 dry)
750ml beef stock (starting to see my point?)

Salsa verde

2 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves
3 cups mint leaves
2 tbsp capers, rinsed
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
150ml extra virgin olive oil

Mashed, boiled (with butter and parsley), whatever potatoes to serve; just don’t go overboard or this could be the end
Steamed green beans

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160c.
  2. Place wine in a large saucepan/casserole (with a lid) over a medium heat and simmer until reduced by half. Set aside.
  3. Toss the steak in the seasoned flour. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the steak in batches until well browned. Set aside.
  4. Add onion to the pan and cook for 5 minutes until golden; add the garlic and the herbs.
  5. Return the meat to the pan with the reduced wine and stock. Stir and season. Cover and cook in the oven for 2 ½ hours. (You have my point now, right?)
  6. To make the salsa verde, place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Season.
  7. Remove meat from pan/casserole and set aside. Place the pan/casserole back on the stock and cook until the sauce is thickened.
  8. Return the meat and serve with the salsa verde and potato.
  9. Loosen tie, remove shoes, be thankful for winter.

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.